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 “Go and fix your makeup girl, it’s just a breakup. Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady, ‘Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together. Even when you fall apart.” Song by Miranda Lambert

Us women are taught from an early age to be seen and not heard. To keep your napkin in your lap and to not voice an opinion. Our mothers sat before us as an example with plastered smiles telling us to ‘act like a lady.’ At what point in time did we lose our voice?

When were women revered as less and accepted to keep quiet?

This culture is evident everywhere I look. In television, movies, in the job market. Women are often put into the role of needing to be rescued, and the dudes wonderfully save us every damn time.

I feel a shift in the women’s movement; let’s matter. Thank you me-too.

My dad sees and hears my mom; that is for damn sure. She was all lady-like, but when she wanted to be heard, she sure as hell was. Oh, by the way, those two are seventy-three years married; they did something right. I can tell they still like and revere one another, dang. I forgot to copy that model.

Back to finding a voice and speaking up. I think I was fearful of arguments, loud voices, and anger. That kept me quiet; mean words terrorized me. I also got the message loud and clear to act like a lady; that image was neat, clean, and quiet. My first marriage seemed so perfect that I never wanted to fight. I know now that effective communication (speaking up) would have served. Way better than getting served divorce papers.

There was where my journey began of finding myself—a single mother of two beautiful babies, learning to find her voice. I had a powerful voice as a fierce mother, but in relationships with men, I seamlessly returned to timid.

The self I was then did not know that my silence was being led by wounds. There are society’s parameters. There can also be the wounded self. It takes courage to stand up for myself, and it took many hurtful relationships for me to learn.

One man for many years slowly tore me down. It was a drip in the faucet form of subjugation that made it even harder to identify. He was all machismo, and I accepted that, yet he wanted me more and more silenced until I found a way out. When you are torn down and meek, it is hard to find the guts to leave. It was a painful lesson that I allowed him to tear me down with words. At one point, we went to counseling; I could not articulate the subtleties of abuse to our consoler. I had no words; I had feared.

I won’t lie I repeated this behavior in one form or another long after we were through. I share this painful part of my history in my book “A Man for Every Purpose, My Naked Journey Searching for Love”. It took me a long while after I left to sort through myself and I did. I found a piece inside of myself that knew I was worth being treated with respect and tender kindness.

How did I find my voice?

Listening, listening hard, with all myself hearing what the other person was really saying. Knowing how it felt to be diminished, recognizing when it was happening, speaking up for myself, not caring what anyone thought.

Eventually, know what? I found myself, and that self had a voice.  A big enough voice to write about it!

I realized the joy of being alone. I went forward with my dreams, finishing the book. Connecting my worth and learning boundaries around bullshit. I developed how to draw lines and not put up with crap from anyone.

I am as soft as I have ever been but tough as nails when it comes to being mistreated in any way. I have read the books, been to therapy, hit the yoga mat, did 200 hours of training, worked with a healer. The shift took place within. The light that now shines will never be darkened again. All that being said, I am forever on a learning journey, much more to understand. When I feel hurt by words, I still shut down. For an hour or a day or two, but then I can be clear and say what I need to.

Enlightenment is right in front of me, deep in gratitude, one book, one blog, one hike on a trail. Embracing the present moments is the best anyone can do.

My Mantra: “When I can speak up, I am proud as I once silenced my voice.”

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