I have always considered myself a girl with a loud and strong voice. Growing up I had an opinion about everything. Everything from what we were eating for dinner to not understanding why I wasn’t allowed to play tackle sports, like the boys were; I voiced what I thought no matter what. As I grew up my voice about women’s issues, politics, gay rights, environmentalism all got stronger. The voice about what I want for dinner and which movie to watch began to get smaller. That was okay–I typically felt and feel indifferent about those things. Or if not indifferent I felt that I could deal with whatever choice was made because I didn’t and don’t want to make the wrong choice and upset someone else.
Recently I’ve been put in the position where I have to ask for what I need. It seems like it should be easy. You have a need from a source that is supposed to be giving you that need and you ask for it. You ask for what you need. Simple. Period. Simple. So why am I struggling with this?
My friend Nikki Nigl is a huge proponent of the term “My voice is valid”. She makes a living by reminding women this fact. So why do so many of us battle with this? Why am I sitting at a coffee shop binge drinking my favorite dark roast anxiously awaiting a response to an email I just wrote. An email where I stated facts that I believed to be true about what I was told I was to receive and what I actually need?
Where did my self supporting voice go? Where did that little 9 year old girl with red cheeks, tears spilling over and a voice so sure of herself end up? Memories of tears, and plea’s, and absolute absolutes that I needed to have this or that toy or adventure, where did that go? Did I use all of it up? Is there a finite amount of confidence we’re allotted and I just used mine up before I became a teenager?
I still have a voice. I know that this voice can be loud and proud and angry. I get tears of frustration and anger that well up in my eyes when I hear on the news that my lesbian or gay friends could be fired for being who they are, I give a small amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign monthly to have a voice and support it. I call bullshit when Planned Parenthood’s funds are threatened and will fight tooth and bone with anyone for women’s right to chose. I also find myself defending co-workers and friends to people starting rumors and talking crap.
But ask me to stand up for what I need and I crumble. I sit in therapy for an hour and half and talk about how XXX isn’t working for me. I’m not getting what I was told I would get and I cower, hide and cry. I cry because I’m scared to say what I need. I cry because I’m afraid of how I’ll make the other person feel. I cry because I don’t want to be attacked and made to feel wrong. I don’t cry out of passion and stand up and shout what I need. I cry and curl up and whisper I don’t want to rock the boat and cause issues.
Nine year old me is unimpressed. 29 year old me is frustrated and working on it.