Blain Nelson's Abuse Pages
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...If Only I Could Get Out of This Chair
Corners

Thank God someone finally figured out that sending children to "stand in the corner" was a terrible idea! Unfortunately, it was my generation that spent it's formative years in corners. Corners are bad; therefore, it is the logical place to send a child who has been bad, to reflect upon their mistakes, we were taught. True, corners are bad, they are terrible, escapeless, limiting places- limiting being their greatest disadvantage.

Okay, in all fairness, they support ceilings and provide good homes for shadows, but essentially they limit us. My advice? Use common sense with corners. If someone threatening is coming at you, and your back is against the wall, are you going to slide along the wall with the door, or aim for the corner?

Sounds like common sense advice to me, yet on so many occasions, we seem to paint ourselves into corners, as it were, and fall into the same traps over and over continuing to wonder why we can't escape the corners. My "favorite" corners to hide in are over-apologizing and never quite being able to say no to people when I really need to. Practical examples of each, last Sunday, Debbie, Lenny and Sal and I went roller skating. My greatest fear was that Sal, who had never skated before would kill himself and be unable to return to law school, and his mother would find out we had been sneaking around to see each other for the past six months. As luck would have it however, he did fall about six times, but actually maintained his balance with Debbie and I on either side, he only drug us down with him twice. Debbie, however, who had skated only two years before, unlike the rest of us, (it was about sixteen years ago for me, geez, am I really that old ?!), came to follow Sal and I for a soda break, and wound up falling , not on the waxed, wooden rink, but on the carpet, and broke her elbow. Needless to say, the skating lessons for Sal came to an abrupt halt and we spent the rest of the afternoon in the emergency room.

Sal spent the rest of the afternoon trying to convince me that I was beating myself up for nothing, and her falling was not my fault. I still say that since I put the idea of going to skate in everyone's head, it was the same as if I had broken her arm myself. Everyone looks at me like I'm insane for this point of view, but, I still spent the day apologizing for her accident and I'm calling every day to make sure she doesn't need anything. Over-apologizing, according to my therapist, aggravates others because it makes them feel as though they have to come up with a response that they don't have. My opinion, I just don't have anything else to say that conveys how awful I feel, so until I find a better method of dealing with those feelings, I hope everyone will deal with me.

The trip to my other favorite corner, not being able to say no when I have to, let's see...

Saturday night before the skating incident, I went to see Shawn's mother play at a local neighborhood bar. Yes, Shawn the Basement Hermit's mother plays an electric guitar in an alternative rock band. Don't even bother to ask, but suffice it to say they kick!

Anyway, the first debut of Day Sleeper (the band), was scheduled for Saturday night, but Shawn couldn't seem to get together when to be where, and when I got home from walking that day, all sweaty and tired from having worked that morning as well, he called.

"Hello ?"
"Hey, it's me, what are you up to ?"
"Nothing, any news on when to be ready or where yet?"
"Well, funny thing, you should ask, can you be ready now?"
"I don't think so, I haven't even gotten a shower yet. I thought we weren't going until tonight, it's only three..."
"Well, if you get a shower now, can you be ready to go, like at any time after that, kind of like 'Patty on the spot'?"

Patty on the spot ?? I really hope that reference wasn't what it sounded like to me. Of course I got into the shower and was ready when he called a half hour later, and asked me to meet him in a town near his house. I complained a little at how disorganized it this whole event was, and he told me not to go and hung up on me. Being the hot blooded Italian that I am, I went and wound up meeting him at his house about forty-five minutes later, after chasing him all over the neighborhood. This is a prime example of when I should have just said no, and went happily about doing other things in my life. But one thing kept me in the trap that night, I really wanted to see her play, and it was a lot of fun. After hearing her every other night in the living room and for three years downstairs in the basement, it was worth it.

Keep in mind though, other than the occasional "big deal", like that night, it really is okay to say no. I recently found another source that agrees with me, and she learned from personal experience, much as we all do in this life.

Angela's Word

  When Angela was very young, age two or three or so,
Her mother and her father taught her never to say NO.
They taught her that she must agree with everyting they said,
And if she didn't, she was spanked and sent upstairs to bed

  So Angela grew up to be a most agreeable child;
She was never angry, and she was never wild;
She always shared, she always cared,
She never picked a fight, and no matter what her parents said,
She thought that they were right.

  Angela the Angel did very well in school,
And as you might imagine, she followed every rule;
Her teachers said she was so well-bred, 
So quiet, and so good, but how Angela felt inside
They never understood.

  Angela had lots of friends, who liked her for her smile,
They knew she was the kind of gal who'd go the extra mile,
And even when she had a cold and really needed rest,
When someone asked if she'd help she always answered Yes.

  When Angela was thirty-three, she was a lawyer's wife.
She had a home and family, and a nice suburban life.
She had a little girl of four and a little boy of nine,
And if someone asked her how she felt, she always answered, "Fine."

  But one cold night near Christmastime
When her family was in bed,
She lay awake as awful thoughts went spinning through her head,
She didn't know why, and she didn't know how,
But she wanted her life to end; so she begged Whoever put her here
To take her back again.

  And then she heard, from deep inside, 
A voice that was soft and low; it only said a single word
And the word it said was ...NO.


  From that moment on, Angela knew
Exactly what she had to do .
Her life depended on that word, so this is what her loved ones heard:

  NO, I just don't want to;
NO, I don't agree;
NO, that' s yours to handle;
NO, that's wrong for me;
NO, I wanted something else;
NO, that hurt a lot !
NO, I'm tired, and NO, I'm busy,
And NO I'd rather not!

  Well, her family found it shocking, her friends reacted with surprise,
But Angela was different, you could see it in her eyes;
For they held no meek submission since that night three years ago
When Angela the Angel got permission to say NO.

  Today Angela's a person first, then a mother and a wife.
She knows where she begins and ends, she has a separate life.
She has talents and ambitions, she has feelings, needs and goals.
She has money in the bank and an opinion at the polls.

  And to her boy and girl she says, "It's nice when we agree;
But if you can't say NO, you'll never grow, to be all you're meant to be.
Because I know I'm sometimes wrong and because I love you so,
You'll  always be my angels even when you tell me NO."

1. Babara K. Bassett
(Excerpted from Chicken Soup For the Woman's Soul. For more information please call 1-800-2-ESTEEM.)

Revolt against corners! Refuse to be beaten down into them! Use their storage space for all the already limited, negative things that aren't going anywhere anyway: despair, fear, desperation, loneliness, self doubt, procrastination, self destruction, and so on and so on. By sending all of these things to live in corners, we free ourselves to bask in the sunshine of: giving, growing, learning, and loving- ourselves and others more productively.