When do we lose the courage to speak out about what we need? What's right and wrong? At what point do we become complicit? When do we stop asking for help for fear of perceived weakness? When do we lose the ability to speak our truth without fear of repercussion? When do we stop honoring and acting upon that voice inside ourselves? And when do we start to get it back?
I am sandwiched in between these two spaces right now. Watching my kids begin to navigate this and my emerging I-don't-give-a fuck-I'm-forty-something self come into full bloom. This place of being able to call out and name my pain, asking for help, and then begin the healing/ripping wounds wide open and being able to sit with them.
My kids are four and don't really have a filter - like in public bathrooms these days when they loudly pronounce P-UUUUU WHAT STINKS IN HERE as someone else is finishing their business. My point is, they say what they think and they don't filter out what is polite quite as often as I'd like. And that right there is the sword - AS I WOULD LIKE. I want my kids to be polite. I want them to be respectful. But I'll be damned if they lose their ability to speak out when something is wrong or feel as though they need to be subservient when it doesn't feel right to them. Because sometimes it feels ok. Sometimes it doesn't . Navigating this tricky business is what we parents and caregivers are here for.
So I'm watching my kids go through this inner battle of "is this polite" and "this doesn't feel right and I'm going to shout about it" while I'm 44 years old and coming out on the other side of FUCK ALL THAT I WILL SAY AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND FEELS RIGHT and nobody is going to shame me for it. I mean, they can try, but I won't allow it.
My parents did an amazing job raising my brother and I. I've written about it a lot. But one thing I bought into way too much is how polite I needed to be. How respectful to other people, particularly people that were perceived to be in authority. I never wanted to get into trouble or cause attention being paid to something I did.
When I look back on my childhood and life up until this point, many of my defining moments - you know the ones that still make you feel a little shame even though you really don't want to - they were because I didn't have the courage to speak up. To say THIS IS NOT OK or simply NO.
I didn't have the courage to listen to that still small voice telling me that what I was feeling in my gut was to be honored. I didn't know I had the ability to really act on that. I've learned as an adult and through recovery that I can actually trust that feeling in my gut that tells me THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Whether it be for me or my kids or anybody I'm watching something happening to.
The other day this little girl at the playground was trying to orchestrate something like LETS PLAY THIS YOU DO THIS AND I DO THAT and my kids looked at her and said HOW ABOUT WE JUST DO WHATEVER WE WANT.
So proud. So damn proud. I mean, I had tears in my eyes because I was so damn proud. I wanted to go back to my little girl self and give her permission to say things like this instead of being scared all the time or too self conscious to speak my own mind. To stop being so damn polite all the time.
It's a fine line and a delicate balance. Politeness and respect deserve the attention that we give them in raising our kids, but so does honoring that voice in their gut that tells them they need to do something or say something and it may not be the appropriate thing. Do it anyway.
DO IT ANYWAY.
It would've saved me some real trauma and heartache in my life had I listened to that small voice. My hope for my kids is they continue to listen to that small voice (which right now is quite big) and that I never try to quell that voice inside of them. My hope is that they always feel they can share that small voice with at least us and we can figure out the path together.
I'm so thankful I get to be here. Present. Not missing any of this. I'm fearful of missing a critical moment where that voice becomes stifled. I'm fearful that the moment it happens, I'll miss it and I won't be able to say, DO IT ANYWAY. But I'm doing my best to be here. To listen.
DO IT ANYWAY. Do what is right. Don't accept what you know to feel wrong in your gut. Stand up and say, THIS IS NOT RIGHT. In any form that takes, just do it. Now more than ever, we need children and adults to be strong and un-accepting of what doesn't feel right. For ourselves and for those around us.
Even if you feel like no one is listening or your voice is not important? I promise you it is. Our kids are watching. Our communities are depending on us, though they may not even know it yet. Every voice, every call for THIS IS NOT RIGHT matters. Like grains of sand that build up and up gradually over time - like snowflakes even (WINK) - alone we are minuscule, but together we can cause a big ol' mountain of mess.
I'm listening. I'm trying my damnedest to honor my small voice that these days is YELLING. I'm trying my hardest to honor these kids and their voices, because they know. They get what's right and good and what feels yucky. A lot feels yucky these days. In big and small ways, kindness matters. In big and small ways, when we feel uncomfortable about what's happening around us - on the playground or in our communities - speaking out feels hard. DO IT ANYWAY.
So many others have to claw and scratch their way to be heard and our voices added to theirs is the very least we can do.
I was crippled in my own life for years for not having the courage to listen to the voice inside me and then turn it into action. I'm doing my best to pass along many things to my children, but that is not one. I want them to ROAR when they need to roar and I want them to use their voice on behalf of others without fear of repercussion. I don't give a flying fig anymore and will shout out hate when I see it and though that may cost me friends and readers, did I need those folks in the first place? I think not.
Be brave. DO IT ANYWAY. There are so many of us out here who have found our loud voices and our courage because we are being forced to in order to protect what and who we love. Now is not the time to sit idly by. You hear people spouting hate in any of it's many forms? You see people accepting of a culture that fosters superiority over another? CALL THEM OUT. DO IT ANYWAY. I'm walking this line with you and we are raising brave kids to keep doing the same.
Have the hard conversations. Sit with the yucky feelings. Be willing to lose friends or even family if it comes to that. If we don't do this, how can we possibly expect our next generation to? It's that important. If my children can have these difficult conversations, I sure as hell can too.
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