When do you choose to put a stake in the ground? State your opinion? Wear the t-shirt with a provocative statement? When do you decide to be vulnerable and show your true colors?
I have always been a "good girl". I studied people hard to know when to be quiet and how to avoid any sense of conflict. When I was really little I shrunk from yelling and wanted desperately to stay out of trouble. As I got older, I figured out how to be and do right to stay safe, maintain my family, and keep my mom and little brother safe.
Then it was just a part of me. I've learned to call it a pleaser saboteur, a perfectionist survival mechanism, my Nellie voice. I hate her.
I don't want to be like this anymore. Keeping quiet means that I swallow my emotions and voice a lot. It's darn hard to be happy when you don't say what you want. 3 plus years of practice and it is hard. The first step was just to decide what I wanted or liked. Then to say it out loud or act. Half of the time I still give in to what is easy, old habits, and just go with the flow. "Sure, I can do that thing for you." "No problem." More often than not I hear it and note it now. That is a big step for me.
Now I am working on determining what I want and saying that. Ugh. It. Is. So. Hard. Recently I received a text, "Can you take care of our pet for a week?" My thoughts went like this - "Uhhh. I really don't want to do that. It takes time away from what I want to do, and that is not what I want to do anymore. Uhhh - what is my excuse? Shoot - I'm working on being myself and more honest so I can't lie. Hmmmm - there is no socially acceptable excuse. Ohhh, I'll tell them that I just don't want to do it! Darn, I can't do that. Okay, what can I say?" 24 hours of worrying later I texted back that I wouldn't be able to do it as I had too many other pulls at the moment. It was what I wanted to say and true. I put a
stake in the ground. Then I beat myself up for a while.
Any of this sound familiar to you?
The political environment has opened up plenty of opportunities for me to practice. My neighbor put signs up in her yard that I don't support. I had a very emotional reaction. I ranted with my love, Paul. I talked to friends and asked one to have a graceful conversation with me and help me understand why anyone would want those signs. My coach asked me "is this about your neighbor or is this about you?" I wanted this to be about my neighbor and a fight. Very unlike old Mary. I wanted to argue and state my case. I wanted to be defiant. I thought I did.
What I really wanted was to voice my opinion and be vulnerable. Put aside guessing what others would say. I was used to be being scared, so I made up a story that matched my expectations of saying what I wanted to say and then having consequences. That story disappeared when I realized that I just needed to put a stake in the ground and say what I believed. I didn't need validation or a fight. I just needed to speak up and stand.
So, I literally put a stake in the ground in my front yard. I am working hard to be that Mary that is no longer afraid to say what I mean and need to say. Shoot - there comes that fear again. Breathe and practice Mary.
I'm voting for Biden and Harris. I believe that women need to take more power and responsibility. I believe that Black Lives Matter and that we need to vote like they do. There - I practiced. Breathing...
Do you want to find your voice? I can help you. I can feel that fear with you and help you kick it to the curb or hush it. And then I'll stand with you - whatever stake you put in the ground.