Thursday, March 14, 2013

Let Your Voice Be Heard

by Judy


When I was a kid I was painfully shy. Today I can fake my way through that in many situations, but honestly, I am still a shy person, and unfortunately, I feel because of that, I haven't always truly used my voice in some areas of my life. 

When I was in college I shared an apartment with a friend. We had fun, we got along great, but deep down I always felt "off." Something wasn't right. We graduated, we were in each other's weddings. Even though we lived in different states, we visited each other. But still, something wasn't right.

After visiting her for a weekend away I had a lot of time to think on my 8 hour drive home. I realized that the friendship was very one-sided. The more I thought about it, the more upset I became. How could I have not seen this before now? I understood that I had just spent years of my life in a friendship that wasn't a true friendship.

She has a strong personality, and communicates her wants and beliefs strongly. A very chatty person, I knew everything about her, but I realized she didn't really know the real me. Over the years the conversations had been dominated by her and her interests. We usually did what she wanted to do. I realized that, to her, this was the perfect friendship.  I was someone who listened to whatever she wanted to say, mostly did whatever she wanted to do.  And she didn't have to "deal with" anything from me.  I knew on that long car ride home that I didn't want this anymore.  And I knew that after years of this one-sided friendship, that the only way to change it, was to get out of it.

Being someone who doesn't like conflict ( I mean, really, who likes conflict?), I just did nothing. I didn't respond to her correspondence.  I didn't return her calls. However, she kept trying. I'd get Christmas and Birthday gifts from her. The occasional letter, written as if she had no clue that something was wrong. I kept thinking, "gee, I'd get the hint. Why isn't she?"

And then one day, Easter Sunday to be exact, she called me out of the blue and asked if her and her family could stay with us while they visited New York City.  Even though I had not communicated with her in years, she thought that this would be OK to ask of me.  I meekly fibbed about other obligations and the conversation was over. 

That evening I finally sat down with paper and pen and wrote an old fashioned letter. An eight page old fashioned letter. I was not rude, but I was blunt. Truthful. I read it, and re-read it, and re-read it. When I put the stamp on the envelope and sent it on its way, I felt a feeling of relief - yes. But the most important thing I felt was a feeling of self-worth. That I had finally taken it upon myself to stand up for myself, to be myself, to finally make her know who I am - to let my voice be heard.

Although this happened many years ago, each year when Easter rolls around, I'm reminded of that phone call from her, and the day I finally ended the "friendship." And each year I am reminded of the importance of being who I really am. Of only allowing people in my life who truly love me and appreciate me for who I am. I am reminded that each and every one of us has a voice - and we need to make sure it is heard. 

"No relationship is ever a waste of time. If it didn't bring you what you want, it taught you what you don't want." - Inner Wisdom

15 comments:

Sarah Huizenga said...

Excellent post. It is so true that you need to remove those people from your life. The hard part is finding truly genuine people to replace them.

Dotti said...

What a powerful post! It is important to recognize our needs and to articulate them. I think women, in particular, have a hard time with this. Judy, we love you. Just keep on being "you". There is a place in the world for shy people and there is no need to feel apologetic. I'm kind of a mix, sometimes shy, other times not, depends on the situation, I guess. But the key thing is, we have a right to be who and what we are.

Linda said...

Such a good post! I find myself saying "yes" when I really want to say "no" just to avoid conflict! And in the end I'm miserable! It's hard to do but I do try to use my voice and let others know what I want!

radish38 said...

Thanks for reminding me that there are women I need to speak up to. Will do.

AFishGirl said...

Wow, Judy, this made me weep. I applaud you so loudly and cheer for you, for the courage it took to write that and to explore and see what was going on. Conflict. I have spent five decades trying to dodge it. Not now. No is hard to say. It takes practice. I also asked one very loud and ME ME ME person for space and quiet and the paraphrased response from her was something like you'll have it forever from me now. I can laugh about it now. My Christmas card list may be short but man oh man, I love the people on it and true reciprocity of compassion is what I want in my relationships. And being respected. Here's a cheer to being real and the freeing fallout that accompanies it. Bravo. Bravo.

terriporter said...

Oh, Judy, your post spoke to me on so many levels! I was very shy as a child and have, for the most part, I think, grown beyond that but I still can be taken advantage of and still avoid conflict at all costs. I had a similar friend many years ago and I have to say I wasn't as brave as you. The "friendship" just fizzled out when I stopped being available to her and she moved on to someone else. Proud of you that you let your voice be heard. You can be sure this post will be remembered. Thank you.

http://vivhalliwell.com said...

Good for you it takes an inordinate amount of courage to do what you did , toxic relationships are dangerous to our well being....

sherrygaley said...

Oh how wonderful that we can continue to grow and change at whatever age we are! We never have to be stuck in something that is not reciprocal. Yes, friendships ebb and flow and don't have to be exactly balanced at all times, but they must be over the long haul to be nourishing...Wonderful story of bravery.

Michele.NYC said...

Oh Judy- I feel like I could have written this post. I am going through something very similar right now and this has been a major talking point with a new friend, we have been discussing this for weeks on and off. I am purging those who don't bring anything to our shared relationship, a different kind of spring cleaning but so very necessary. Thanks so much for writing something so honest.

terriporter said...

I just had to pop back in here and say how much I love your photo! So calming an beautiful. Also love the drop shadow that makes it pop right off the page. Nicely done.

Deanna said...

I have never been accused of being shy, but being brave is another thing especially when it comes to confrontation. Not something any of us want to be a part of is an unworthy friendship. Kudos to you for your tenacity in ending this unpleasant relationship.

kelly said...

oh judy. this really speaks to me. although i wouldn't consider myself 'shy' i do have a very hard time standing up for myself. totally understand about disliking confrontation and for so many years i have just let things go that i shouldn't. for the sake of 'keeping the peace.' but something has happened...maybe it's age...i don't know...but i find that it's harder for me to tolerate injustice. unfairness. one-sidedness.

big hugs to you for finding the strength and courage to face your fears. thank you for sharing.

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

Wow, way to go! I too, usually just keep my mouth shut. Thanks so much for sharing. I LOVE your photo.

Peggy said...

You are not alone. In our life sometimes there are friendships we hang onto even though they add nothing to our lives.my test has always been ...do you feel better or worse after you have talked to them ? You should light up when you get a call from a good friend. Peggy from PA

Livingsta A said...

Wow, this is one amazing read. This is so beautiful, and I can relate to this. It is so difficult that we get along with these for years and years and only to sit one day and reflect, OMG, I can understand that feeling. You did the right thing. I am glad you did it, it is all worth it. Your voice needs to be heard. Great post and a beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing this with us. Have a great week ahead :-)

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