I had allowed others to dig their heels into it, and the resultant dents still gives me nightmares. Loss of dignity by revealing one's vulnerabilities and weaknesses to people who don't value it, and the inability to say 'no' to self can leave deep scars. There is a tendency to indulge in self-pity, blame others, and refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of one's own decisions. But good sense eventually drifts in with the passage of time as one gathers the scattered pieces of life. The only lesson that stuck with me from the past is that absolutely nothing or no one is worth compromising my own dignity and self-respect for. It comes from being unapologetic about who I am and the choices I make, with full responsibility for their consequences. It would be sheer idiocy to give the reins of my life to those who have the ability to hurt me, and lament about it when they eventually do. Only I know what I feel and what I want in life, and that shapes my character. Others can only speculate about it, and these speculations shape reputation. I prefer the former and tend to be fiercely protective of it, shielding it from unworthy influences.
Everything else that I treasure in life-family, love, work, books, travel- comes after it. My world revolves around my family and loved ones. But in my extended family, after years of revering age and being a mute observer, I stood up against few injustices; and even though it caused irreparable damage to certain ties, it brought to me a sense of relief and bolstered my sense of moral responsibility and dignity. I have even learnt to disguise my love and vulnerabilities. I would rather die than admit to the one I love that he has the ability to hurt me. I have done that in the past, and it is not a good feeling. It is tempting to tell out loud how I really feel, but then such confessions require a listener who understands it. Or else it ends up leaving a tornado of unrest that I have to rein in and quietly carry within myself for a long time. And that again is not a good feeling. As for career and work, it all comes down to doing what I love (or learning to love what I do) and carrying it out with utmost sincerity. It can be the most insignificant job in the world, but if it is done without any compromises of integrity, it brings in a happiness and satisfaction that is hard to explain.
No matter how many skies fall, if your dignity is intact, you get the courage to go through another day.