I keep them handy as a reminder.
Through most of my Life, no one in my world heard me. If you think I’m exaggerating, let me reiterate: NOT ONE HUMAN BEING. Hence my fondness for animals, but that’s another story…
Mostly, what they heard wasn’t what I was saying or doing. They were too busy trying to fix me to hear me (translate that as trying to make me into copies of them) and I hadn’t yet realized that most of what was “wrong” with me was the “wrongness” of trying to please them, which often resulted in caring more about the welfare of others than I did about my own.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound SO awful, does it? I mean, it’s good to be concerned about others, right? Throngs of children are taught this, either directly or indirectly.
Here’s the rest of that dynamic, though. In worrying about everybody else’s needs and in trying to keep them happy (translate that as trying to keep them from getting mad, especially at me, when things went wonky), I had no energy left to learn how to take responsibility for my own welfare. But I was super good at tending to theirs. All that made me look to them as if I knew stuff I didn’t know, so they’d lean heavily on me for support, and then I’d feel put upon and unappreciated. I heard them but I didn’t get heard. So I’d keep trying to get what I needed by being there for others.
It’s exhausting to write it down and it’s exhausting to read it.
Living it was NOT living.
I felt like a little girl masquerading as a grownup, sure that behind the facade of work and family life, my ruse would be found out when I tripped wearing pink high heels that were too big for me.
And of course, none of what I was trying to do was even possible, but it was what I’d been conditioned to do within my family, and I kept doing it until the cycle almost did me in.
Then I got help.
It’s satisfying now when another person hears me and doesn’t offer unsolicited suggestions for how I could be better. It co-creates a space for creativity when another person allows me to simply have my feelings and not act as if there’s inherent danger to feeling.
Yet, there are still those lonely moments when NO ONE hears me, when they can’t shut up, when they feel a need to encourage me. I still hate it when they try to fix me.
It’s lonely when all I need is a witness to where I am.
These moments call for deep courage, the kind of courage that’s a rich pink and vibrant and pointed—like those high heels I keep on the shelf as a reminder of where I’ve come from. Courage hears my own voice and trusts it, even when it whispers, “I don’t know.” Courage speaks the hidden into the light, even when no one else can see it.
They don’t know it, but deep inside myself, I’m beating their voices into silence with those pink heels. I keep them handy.