The Girl That Started Using Her Voice

See that girl there? 

Well, for starters, she's an enneagram nine. Biggest thing about us "nines"?

We rarely use our voice, because something or someone along the way made us feel like ours didn't matter. 

I'm already emotional starting this post because honestly, when I look back at my childhood/youth/young adult life, I don't even fully understand how I'm still standing... and smiling. 
But I am. 

I'm so proud of myself for fighting and clawing and rising again and again, until I finally had enough strength and nerve to start speaking up and contributing to this beautiful thing called life.

I can't get into everything all in one post, and I'm fully aware some have had it worse and turned out better... but this is my story... and the events that occurred in it, have caused that girl up there to morph and evolve and start over a couple times. 

For 34 years, I've held off telling my full story, because of who it might offend or affect negatively. I didn't want to be labeled a drama queen or attention seeker, either. I've also convinced myself that no one would care about anything at all I had to say. All those fears that make me a "nine."

Now, I've realized, I just need to say it for me. 
So, I'm going to write it like no one's ever going to read it... cause that's the only way to bare all and be raw.

That girl was only two years old when her parents divorced. An entire lifetime of  "every other everything" laid in wait for her. 

Her voice got a little quieter after this. She would cry for daddy, but that made mommy upset. She would miss mommy, but daddy only got four days a month with her; she didn't want to leave him either. So, she learned to hold those feelings inside so as not to upset anyone she loved.

When she was four, an additional family was added to her life. Could've been great, and some of it turned out to be after years of effort, but those crucial childhood years were rough. 

Not only did she feel awkward being left with total strangers, she was told she "wasn't blood" so she "didn't count." 

Her voice? Yep. Lowered a couple more notches. 

From ages four to seven, that girl faced sexual abuse by the new man that was supposed to protect her. When she finally realized something about this was wrong, she told the only person she knew could and would help her get out of that situation. 

But that didn't happen. 


Just a teeny, tiny sliver of vocality left in her after that blow.

But more of that chapter another day. 

Right before her seventh birthday, she and her "most-of-the-time family" started attending a very conservative church. One of which she was a member until she was twenty years old. Some of the memories are precious and ones she'll cherish forever. But any volume left within those vocal cords of hers were silenced almost entirely within a few short years. 

All sense of individuality was stolen. All desire for creativity was smothered. Anything "new" was usually deemed "unnecessary." Anything other than what she was told was permissible (which wasn't much) was thrown out the window of her room of possibilities. 

Don't wear that. 
Don't go there. 
Stay away from them.
Don't watch that. 
That's bad music.
Say no to that. 
Respond with a yes on this.
Be like her. 
Read books written by these authors.
Don't shop there.
Don't eat there. 

Everything she imagined her life to be was drained of its color and replaced with matte black and white. 

In order to survive and be heard, she had to learn what they wanted her to say.

And she did. 

So many dreams were put on hold until the stress of it all exploded. At 22 years old, she and her young husband decided it was finally too much. There were too many questions that remained unanswered. Too many things weren't adding up. 

God is this incredible artist, the most brilliant creator establishing every breathtaking color and shape and sound we get to experience, and yet they were stuck in a cookie cutter world with only the tiniest flicker of vibrancy.

Her comment to the amazing man she was so incredibly blessed to find? 
"I've lived my entire life trying to be exactly who they want me to be, and where has it gotten me?" 
A few seconds passed. Then a chuckle. "That's the problem! I shouldn't be living my life for them!"

There was her voice. It scared her a little. She hadn't heard it speak up in so long. 

"I can't do this anymore, babe. I'm miserable. These people are miserable. We're stifled. So limited." 

That young girl, with tears streaming down her face, looked into the eyes of the man she loved, as he said, "I hear you, babe... and I agree. We have to make a change."

What? He hears me? Maybe I can speak a little louder.

"We're missing out on so much goodness that was supposed to be available to us. Where's the abundant life?  The priceless freedom? The unspeakable joy?"

It felt good to freely speak. Even better to be fully heard. 
What happened over the course of the next few days were the best decisions of our lives. 
We resigned positions. We made tough phone calls. Endured a lot of harsh comments. Lost nearly all of our connections. Had to start figuring faith and life out on our own. 
But those choices led us to where we are today. 

Fourteen years later, after therapy, new friendships, deconstructing and reconstructing of faith, uncomfortable conversations, lots of highs, a bunch of lows, that girl's voice has gotten louder. There's still some volume control she's working through... but she's getting there. 

You know, as I typed out that last line, I realized that I've carried on this entire post in third person... Maybe it's easier to let things out that way? Doesn't hurt as much?
Well, time for additional growth.

Obviously, I'm that little two-, four-, seven-, and twenty-two-year-old girl that faced some unfair, crappy things that I didn't ask for. I'm the one that was left in a scary situation that causes me issues today. I'm the one that was told I didn't count. The one who was publicly criticized and not believed. 
I'm the one who kept fighting... clawing my way out of the hole I was buried in. 
I didn't stand a chance. 

But I made it anyway!

Almost 16 years with the most amazing man you'd ever meet. An asset manager of a reputable property-management company. Founder and Director of a women's conference. A blogger who is starting to tell all. Happy despite the crappy. 

And I've been told I'm still very nice!

Simple though it may be, I was brave enough to purchase those granny glasses (that aren't even prescription) and rock them all day. Part my hair in the middle because that's the current trend. Thicken those eyebrows because I wanted to. Wear that nose ring. Go to those concerts. Wear that outfit. Apply for that job. Go for that promotion. Write my story.

I'm the girl that started using her voice. 

I wonder what I'll say next?


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