My Voice Is Valid, Damnit.

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?

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to Remember

Waking up early is in my blood. Struggling to put my already damp sports bra on to my already sweaty body I remind myself where I am: Cat Ba Island. Skipping down the 6 flights of stairs I curse the broken elevator. Walk to the street and pick up the pace.

 

The streets are busy with locals. Motorbikes zoom to drop off kids at school, men at work and women selling coffee, I run. Ignoring the calls for a taxi or motorbike ride I run. To the beach, to the ridge where I am alone with my islands. My islands rest and wait and absorb the shock of the waves that lap them from the great sea. I’m alone as I stretch my tired muscles, as I climb the stairs I had just descended and as I round the corner and sit with a small Vietnamese woman who tells me hot coffee is just 10,000 dong. I sip my twenty-five cent brew and remind myself again and again.

Wanted: Unicorns and Puppy Dogs

I, like so many twenty-somethings (heck, probably most people,) often wonder what am I doing? I’m currently asking myself this question from a little town in Central Thailand. I do many of the same things here as I did in my little valley town of Ashland only the back drop here is just slightly different. I sit in coffee shops and sip on americanos while writing in my journal, I Facebook, I read, I people watch, I wander the streets in hopes of finding someone I know or in hopes of meeting a new friend (however unlikely that is here).

I enjoy the small things here in SE Asia as well as in America, and I stress about them all the same—Thailand is no different, for some reason I thought I wouldn’t bring my normal stress here. I thought I’d be able to leave it behind, figure it out and breeze through this whole experience with Unicorns, rainbows and puppy dogs frolicking around me the entire time. Not the case.

 

I cried the other day. I stupidly cried. And I admitted to myself [and my director] that this is hard. Really hard. I found myself saying that this is a challenge. Which is fine [more than fine]. I heard myself tell her that because this is a challenge I can succeed. I will succeed. [I hadn’t realized that before the words popped out of my mouth.] This is what I signed up for. This challenge.

 

Looking back through my history I remember what successes I’ve had. Moments that were struggles, reasons that I cried, and steps I had to take to over come my fears. I’ve trained and run long races, I’ve had hard jobs, I’ve taken classes with tough professors. I can do this.

 

 

My mother has always said I’m stubborn (see number 3). Damn straight I’m stubborn.

 

Puppies are on the way

Puppies are on the way