Harmless or just?

“Many of those who are humiliated are not humble. Some react to humiliation with anger, others with patience, and others with freedom. The first are culpable, the next harmless, the last just.”

~ Bernard of Clairvaux

For almost ten years, humiliations big and small, public and private, were a central part of my life. Occasionally, I reacted angrily, and so I was culpable. Mostly, though, I reacted with patience. I was harmless. And while there’s a sense in which I’m proud of the fact that I remained patient, and that, often, I didn’t compromise my integrity, there’s also a sense in which I was patient for far too long. I was harmless. And so I kept being humiliated.

I’m not harmless anymore. Because, living with the scars of abuse, with the sickly remnants of the fear and the ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, I have discovered freedom. I have discovered my own strength and I am discovering my own worth. And in claiming my freedom, in claiming my life, I am standing up as who I am.

Yes, there’s a sense in which I’m proud of the fact I reacted to humiliation with patience. But – and this is a pretty big deal for me to say – I’m even prouder of the fact that ten months into my new, safe life, I have learned to react to humiliation with freedom.


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