Between memes with supposed quotes on them and actual genuine quotes sometimes it’s difficult to make the distinction.

Between memes with supposed quotes on them and actual genuine quotes sometimes it’s difficult to make the distinction.

But, there is a meme with, let’s just say a cool group of wording on it, I like, “Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack.”

Ten, 12 years ago I was a sheep. I didn’t speak up when I knew something was wrong or someone was being mistreated.

I kept my head down attempting to stay as invisible as possible at all times, which is somewhat of a challenge when you work in a very public job.

From ages 17 to 35 I was with a brutal, regularly physically, verbally and mentally abusive piece of….well, you know.

I’ve changed. I’ve changed dramatically since then, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Much to the dismay of some, one can’t wake up one day and make themselves forget and get over their past. Each and every time I’m typing I see one of the parting gifts he left me; a scar on the front of my right hand near my thumb. It’s a long, thin, jagged scar, the kind that forms after having a car key dug into your skin, drawing blood while dragging said car key the length of the scar I have now.

But, I have changed dramatically, especially over the last two years.

I’m not a victim. I am a survivor.

When Hank and I signed up for the self defense class it wasn’t just to do a story or to have a good time. I honestly want to be able to protect myself in the event I need to.

Reporters are not cop-level paranoid, but we have our own paranoia. I always know where the exits are no matter where I am. I don’t sit with my back to any door. If something doesn’t feel right in my gut, I trust my gut. Hank and I were talking about that very topic prior to our class in regards to people. We get gut feelings about people all the time. More times than not they’ve done nothing but talk to us, but there’s just something off. I used to try to talk myself out of that feeling, but I go with it now.

What Detective Arnold taught us was amazing. Hank and I intend to practice regularly in the office (warning to our coworkers if we accidentally grab one of you—sorry).

The major piece of information she taught us I keep coming back to is how we present ourselves.

For example, do we walk around with our head down? Do we not make eye contact? Do we clearly show we have zero confidence just by our body language?

If the answer to those questions are yes, then you’re telling people you’re a victim.

I used to be that person.

When I would walk into a meeting I was covering, I never made eye contact with anyone. I made it okay for people to feel as though they could treat me less than. I made it clear I didn’t respect myself so I didn’t expect them to respect me.

I’ve changed.

I may not feel the most confident. I’m most likely not even near the most confident in the room, but I walk in a room for a meeting, event, interview, etc., as though I have confidence coming out of my pores. I hold my head high, shoulders back and I make eye contact. I speak first. If I shake hands, it is firm.

I’m not ever going to go down without one helluva fight. Don’t get in my space. Don’t threaten me. Don’t come after me.

When Larry was first let go, I admit I went through a period of extreme depression and mourning.

Then, I could hear my Gramps’ voice telling me to get off my backside and get it in gear.

So, I did.

Full gear.

I’m a boss. I’m a boss of my newsroom and that’s where the confidence and how I handle myself comes into play, too.

A person can be taken advantage of in different ways which is why the portion of the class when Detective Arnold discussed how we present ourselves really resonated with me.

When I was working on the article I told Shelby, Detective Arnold said we don’t have to beat an attacker to a bloody pulp, just do what we have to do to get away, which is the best advice.

But, I’m so full of rage at this stage of the game I told Shelby, “I would bite their jugular out with my bare teeth and not think twice about it.”

I’m pretty sure we are at a point in our friendship where nothing I say surprises him anymore.

He nodded and said, “I believe you.”

I was a sheep long enough.

I am a wolf.