For many years I had no voice. I walked around on egg shells worried about the reaction my opinion or feelings would have from other people. I didn’t speak my needs or wants and I just took whatever was thrown at me. The day I decided enough was enough and stood up for myself after 20 years was the beginning of regaining the voice I had lost. It was one of the most terrifying things I had ever done. In fact even presenting the papers to him took me a week, because I was terrified of the reaction he would have. As I have worked very hard over the past (almost) 2 years rebuilding myself, this is one of the final pieces that needs to be tackled.
Two months ago I had to face this dead in the eye for the first time in over a year. I was having a conversation with someone that I thought they were not going to react well to. At first it sort of got shuffled under the rug, but it quickly came back out. I remember sitting there explaining the situation, which in hindsight he in no way should have been angry, concerned maybe but not angry, waiting for the volcano to explode. I learned two things from this interaction. First, I projected the reactions of people in my past on this person, who had never shown me a side of themselves even remotely close to what I was fearfully waiting to experience. Because I was so use to being screamed at, belittled and completely destroyed by words, I braced myself and waited for the explosion. I immediately went to a place of fear and defense. In the moments that followed I sat and watched his face, his body language and how he processed the information. The sight nearly brought me to tears. Not out of fear, but because for the first time in a very long time I felt safe. It was in that moment I realized I was starting to fall for him, my wall started to crumble within the space of that safe feeling. Second, I learned the importance of speaking what my needs or wants are. Rather then being brave enough to be honest, I was to afraid to admit to him that I was now smitten. Now if you have read my previous posts, you are already aware that I am in no hurry for anything, all I knew at that point and in the weeks that followed is that he was more important to me than I had originally ever anticipated. I wasn’t fully prepared for that feeling either, but I did want to explore it at that point. Just stick my toes in a bit and see where things went. But since I couldn’t imagine that he would want me to feel this way about him, I kept my mouth shut, and just accepted things as they were without voicing my wants or needs. I didn’t use my voice because I was afraid of the reaction and outcome. It will probably end up being one of my biggest regrets.
As life lessons always seem to pack a one – two punch, life wasn’t done with me yet. Not only did I have to deal with my choices to not use my voice in that situation, I was about to get slammed with another situation. This time with a friend, but I was going to handle it much better. Over the years I have accepted certain people’s behaviors toward me rather then rock the boat and deal with potential conflict. After realizing what I had just done in the previous situation, the only way for me to start overcoming this flaw in my way of thinking was to stand up for myself. After much contemplation and and a serious look at the situation I decided to voice my opinion about the way someone was treating me and reacting to things I was choosing to do. In this case, the reaction I expected did occur. It should be noted that I have known this person much longer and knew from past experiences what to expect, so this wasn’t the same as when I projected it onto the other person. What was amazing in how this unfolded was that I continued to have a voice. I felt stronger and more confident. I didn’t back down and I stood up for myself, granted with the loving support of my friends, but I still did it. It was freaking terrifying. In fact, the situation is still with the jury and I’m not sure how it will all turn out. BUT the beauty of this was that I didn’t die. I realized even if the outcome isn’t what I had hoped and things changed, it would be ok. I would be ok.
You see sometimes when we lose our voice, we sit quietly in our comfort zone making ourselves uncomfortable because we choose to remain quiet. When in fact, using our voice will bring us the absolute most comfort. Had I spoke up and expressed how I was feeling, maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe they would have turned out exactly as I was afraid they would, in either case I would have been fine. However, now I am left with something much worse, the regret of not speaking up, not using my voice, not being brave, never knowing how my voice would have actually, instead of assuming, made this situation turn out. So when faced with situations in the future I hope I am able to remember this lesson and just use my voice and not live in fear and regret.