TODAY IS THE DAY WE STOP THE SILENCE. It’s time to be heard… to take a stand, to set your voice ablaze.
I’ve been quiet for too long, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say – at least in certain areas of your life – so have you. Guess what? IT. ENDS. TODAY.
You see, I was always told to shut up. I remember growing up being told constantly, “Debbie shut up!” “Keep your voice down, I can’t hear TV!” Because obviously, the latest episode of MASH or Married with Children was soooo super fricking important. So much more important than a child having fun, laughing – that’s usually what I was doing when I got really loud.
Oh yeah… that’s as far back as I can remember being silenced. Actually, no it’s not. So buckle the hell up, it’s gonna get real.
I was told to “not tell anyone” when a man asked for a “favor” in exchange for ice cream when I was a child. I was told not to tell anyone when the boy in third grade flashed me his penis. I was told to “not tell Mom” when I was punched in the nose over a piece of gum in elementary school. (And, yes, that landed me to whole pack, but I digress). I always felt I was doing something wrong, so I battled against myself to shut the hell up. I mostly never succeeded.
Then, of course, high school, and I was scared of the tensions that were glaringly present in my school. You either shut up and pretended to be everyone – or at least their friend, or you were a star athlete, or you were bullied into fighting. I chose to be quiet… the best that I could, and in places that I didn’t feel my voice was safe.
And then into my adulthood, I was rewarded with playing nicely in the corporate sandbox, and got severely penalized when I didn’t. In the same year while I was in the Navy, I got two letters of commendation, sailor of the quarter, and written up – and also did an international military radio broadcast on a plane crash. The highs and lows really messed me up, so I kept battling with my inner voice. It wanted to speak, I shut it up.
What’s crazy, though, is that I always stood up for others. To the detriment of my own “being liked.” I valued others’ rights above my own, and even – before kids, thank goodness – put myself in harm’s way to thwart a gang attack on friends.
Throughout a career in radio, television, public relations and online journalism, I saw things that made me cringe, my heart cry, my soul burn to a crisp, but I played nicely in the sandbox so I didn’t stir any pots. That’s what makes people like you, and the corporate ladder come down to meet you, after all.
Then I met the man I married, and stifled my truth even more because I thought if he really, REALLY saw the passionate me – you know, the one who had been told to shut up for 30 years – that if he really knew who I truly was and what I had been through, that he wouldn’t stay. And, when I did speak up throughout that relationship and my life, it always led to difficulty. So I chose to not really, not REALLY, REALLY in the way that mattered in my heart, speak my truth to the man I married.
Then one day, we were divorced. And there I was, divorced. DIVORCED. DIVORCED!!!! Because I chose to keep evading the truth, the voice that was really inside me that just wanted to love and be loved for the person I really was – that girl that laughed so loud the neighbors could hear, because she felt joy deep into her soul. I had managed to quiet her so much, that everything in my life crumbled, and when I looked around, I no longer recognized who I was.
I stood up for myself, decided to believe that I was a good person, and decided to believe that the marriage was the right one, but that I needed to be real. The real me. The loving, open me, without fear of pain, rejection, or whatever else would come. The one who didn’t push people away because she had so much pain in stifling her own voice.
OH, there was rejection… plenty of it… from family, some friends, and even the man himself who was so guarded and hurt by the previous 18 months that he would only look at me with sideways glances for the first few weeks. “I’m just waiting for the façade to end,” he told me many times. The truth is, the façade had already ended. You know, the one where Debbie plays small? Yeah, that one.
It was in the moment that I decided to not “shut the hell up” that I began to repair my life. I have rebuilt it, and my husband and I rebuilt our relationship from the ground up, based on absolute truth. BECAUSE?
I finally found the fire in my voice. I took a stand for what was burning inside me, and I decided I would never, EVER, again trade a false truth for love and acceptance. Because, it’s not only my voice now that needs to speak its truth… I have two little ones that are also burning to have a loving, lasting impact on this world.
Is there something in your life that you need to stand up for? Is there a fire burning inside you that needs to get out? Then, I ask you to please head over to my new Facebook page, Trailblazers, and let’s create a group that is willing to stand tall, stand up and let the blazing voice inside us OUT. Because sitting down, shutting up, and holding our real truth inside us no longer an option, and you don’t have to do it alone.