Okay, so I promised some mind-numbing blather that would probably do nothing for anyone but me. Here goes.
I was a really obnoxious teenager. I excelled at arguing whenever I thought I was being treated unfairly. At thirteen, I protested what I thought was an unfair wage for lawn mowing. My protest was complete with marching and signs. Really. There’s photographic proof.
Shut up. It was the early 80s. You can't see the sign on the right but it says, "Unfair Wages."
You’re probably wondering why I’ve posted a really embarrassing photo from my awkward teenage years, right? I thought a visual would help explain how far I’d go to protect my rights.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped arguing for myself and started just accepting things. A portion of that is due to an appreciation of Eastern religions and being Zen, Al-Anon and all of that. I’ve learned to accept the things I cannot change. That is a good thing. Another rather large part of it is due to a flying queen-sized bed, ripped out phones, and spackle. Lots and lots of spackle. Spackle and fear. (I’m having a huge struggle here between sharing this and protecting the privacy of others.)
While I’ve always hated discord, I was taught through some extremely unpleasant experiences that I should only stand up for what I believed was right if it wasn’t about what was right for me. In that, I tried to keep and make peace. I have a friend who once told me, “I don’t need you to be a fucking peacemaker.” Fair. She didn’t need for me to be a peacemaker. I needed to be a peacemaker. There was an awkward time in our friendship because of that. I think/hope we’ve moved beyond it.
As I said in Thought Garden, “I’ve compromised myself, not because it was demanded or requested or expected, and I’m trying to figure out why and how I can change it.” In the relationships that followed after the one with the flying queen-sized bed, I accepted a lot of things I shouldn’t have accepted. I excused things that hurt me (not physically, never again physically) in the name of peace.
I shouldn’t have done that.
On the rare occasion that I spoke up and said (admittedly, rather timidly) something, the fact that I said ANYTHING was a big, freaking deal. In my last relationship, I even got to the point where I could say “If I say anything at all, it’s a big, freaking deal.” That wasn’t strong enough. Another lesson learned.
I’ll never be the woman throwing a glass of wine into her companion’s face at a restaurant. I’ll likely never cause a scene. It’s not my style.
I will speak up. I will say, “No. That’s not okay with me.”