Everyday I use my voice. Everyday you use your voice. It’s one of those things we take for granted. I tend to not want to use my voice in the fear of abusing it or saying the wrong thing. That’s my habit. My pattern of wanting to be perfect. What’s yours? If you look back in your history there’s always a pattern in the way we use our voices. Sometimes work and living environments tend to squash or enhance the need to speak up.
The other day I was at the park jogging and using one of those free outdoor park gyms in and around London. I love these gyms. They are perfect for those of us wanting to save a bit of cash while living in such an expensive city. As I climbed on to one of those contraptions (some of them I’m certain do very little for the body, but are extremely fun to play on), I noticed two young women doing the same. At first, I thought it was a young mom with her teenage daughter. They looked very similar with their long blonde hair, and round faces. The teenage girl was flopping over her contraption refusing to move. She had a scowl on her face and a stubborn, yet “I don’t care” way about her. The older woman was moving on her contraption, face turning red, and breaking a sweat. She then yelled, “C’mon then. Move.” The teen yelled back, “Noooo!” “Don’t wan to!” Their conversation was loud, aggressive, and without a hint of shame. They did not care that I was there to overhear. Of course, I kept me head forward, appearing to be engrossed in my music, but I did take out one of my earbuds to listen. (I am a polite Canadian after all, I won’t stare, but I will notice everything.) They kept bickering and yelling at each other. I now figured that they were sisters. The older ones attempt to motivate the younger, but all I heard was loud words. From my perspective, this is they way of London young people. They talk loudly. I notice this in a classroom. I spent an hour wth a class of year 6’s yesterday and the vast majority of them want and need to be heard. “Miss! Miss! MISS!!! I look around the classroom and for all the attention required to quieten those loud kids, there’s always a group of quiet ones who either look down in frustration, or give the others an angry face that screams, “WILL YOU SHUT UP!!!!!”
I don’t believe the quiet ones don’t have the need to be heard, I just believe they see that there’s no point in fighting for it. That’s my history or pattern. Growing up, I had a mom who yelled all the time. I know she knows she yelled to much, but that was her way of gaining control. She feels guilty for this even today, but I honestly think she didn’t know of any other way. My act of rebellion was to keep everything very close to the chest. I refused to yell back. I would sink into myself every time she lashed out. Then she would want to know what was going on with me, and this is where I would gain the upper hand, I would tell her nothing. It wasn’t always about control, there was an element of safety to it too. Why would you want to share with someone who felt emotionally unsafe? I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and get punished for it. I don’t write this to punish her now or to even gain sympathy. I’m just processing my experience. The good news is that she has become increasingly safe through the years. I have come to realize that she grew up in a home with a raging, paranoid father, and an abused mother. Her parents only spoke Ukrainian. Talking was not a big thing in the home. No one shared their lives with each other. Care and love was shown through provisions. “Here’s money to buy food, or pay your mortgage.” Words were wielded as weapons or armour but very seldom used to connect, encourage, or show love. I believe this is the baggage many kids are lugging with them to school; the baggage of neglect, abuse, and misunderstanding.
My default today, is to remain small and quiet with my words, and lean into the “nice” and polite thing to say. I hate the thought of hurting anyone or making them feel badly about themselves, yet I will do that to myself even if the pain caused to another person was by accident or the necessity of truth. Speaking up for what I want or need is even harder. I have heard it’s difficult for most women to say what they want or need. The irony is that the heroins I have loved the most are the mouthy ones; the Anne Shirleys or the Clair Frasers of the world. Do they exist in reality? Possibly, but they may not have many friends. R says that the qualities we are drawn to in another person, even the fictional ones, are the qualities we have in ourselves, even if they are a bit hidden. I gain hope from such a perspective. It rings true to me. Maybe there is a little Anne in me.