If you come from an Nfamily and you find it hard to stand up for yourself, know that this is because your defence mechanism has been disabled since birth. It is not because you have no backbone or you are not strong. If that was the case you would not have made it this far. A fellow blogger, Elena K , put it beautifully in one of her comments:
"surviving despite those feelings of weakness and brokenness is worth something, isn't it? Just being here today means we were strong enough to make it, despite everything."
Yes, we are strong. We've just been conditioned to think that we are not. Our parents wanted robots, not independent thinkers, so they raised us accordingly: to never say NO, to never rock the boat, to make no demands. Then they send us into the world without any shield or weapon to protect ourselves. Like sending a sheep among wolves. The poor sheep stands no chance.
Also against us is the old "it takes a thief to catch a thief", so if I'm not a thief how can I possibly recognise that somebody else is? For a long time I believed the idea that anyone who was being horrible to me in some way, must be hurting inside, until one day the logic didn't stand anymore, because I was also hurting but I was not behaving that way, and someone who was hurting, out of all people would know what it feels like and would go out of his/her way to not do that to others. I could not excuse these people any longer.
I felt like I had been conned my whole life. It was only when I was able to "see" the reality of the situation that I was able to attempt to start standing up for myself.
The way I look at it now is this: If someone is standing on my toes, whether they're doing it on purpose or they're not aware of it at all, is irrelevant, I still need to tell them to step off my toes. If they're honest people they'll be sorry and apologise, however if they're an N, they'll start arguing with you about their "right" to stand on your toes (this was my experience with the Ns in my life-both friends and family). This is no mean feat, since most of us don't particularly enjoy confrontation and deep down we sense that the Ns will not give up their "conquered" territory without a fight. I can't say that there is an easy way about it, and I'm not sure that even if I had had the tools I have now I would not have ended in the same place. It's impossible to know. I think that's the other side of the coin: that when you do stand up for yourself you know there is a fair risk that is going to be the end of the relationship as you know it. There is something frightening about finding out someone's true colours, specially if they're a family member or a close friend. Your gut is telling you something is wrong but you just can't bring yourself to believe that that person would be as bad as your gut is telling you they are. You keep telling yourself: nah, surely that can't be it! There is a lot of emotional investment in those relationships and having to acknowledge that it's time to "cash in your chips" and go, really hurts. And once you know, there is no undoing it, you can't go back to not know it.
I think this is why, for some many of us, this is such a long process.