I was raised by a Yankee lawyer. My father’s family was well-to-do or as we say today, “privileged”. My father worried about what the neighbors would think. We went to church on Sunday and we voted Republican. I was a Republican because that’s what we were.
I was raised with the old adages “children are to be seen and not heard” and “good girls ________” (fill in the blank but I often heard “are quiet”, “don’t swear”, “don’t cry”, etc.) I was a good girl. I learned to sew and dance. I learned to be quiet and to silence my voice. I did what I was told. I followed the rules. I was afraid that if I did something that was NOT what good girls did that the police would show up and arrest me. How would I explain that to my father? I desperately wanted his approval.
I married a man who my parents liked and I thought I loved right out of college. That was, I was taught, when I would be happy and I would be complete. (I wasn’t given a middle name when I was born but was told that I’d have a complete name when I married.) I struggled to be happy for nearly 28 years before I divorced. I did everything I knew how to do but it was always “my fault” that the marriage was a failure or that he didn’t come home or ___________ (again, fill in the blank). If I’d only kept the house cleaner or the kids quieter. If I’d had a job to help pay the bills (because money I inherited that helped to support us didn’t count, it “wasn’t mine”.)
It has only been in the last ten years or so that I have been finding my voice. I have worked with a therapist, tentatively and then more assuredly voiced opinions about where I wanted to go for dinner and what color paint I wanted to paint the walls. I bought my own clothes. I spent money on real jewelry. I paid my rent, bought my first car entirely with my own money (and a little help from my wonderful son.) I learned to listen to my gut. And I learned that I was smart and sensitive and really good at many things. I learned that I could move to a strange city and find a job and make friends. I learned that I could be lonely and survive. I grieved the loss of my “old family” and gave birth to a new one (no, I didn’t have new babies but my relationship with my children changed) that included step-children and a new husband.
When the Senate told Senator Elizabeth Warren to shut up and sit down last night, it struck a chord with me. I found myself furious. A high school friend posted an article on my Facebook page this morning. I found myself insulted and angry. I will not be silenced. I will not shut up and sit down. I can be a bleeding heart liberal or a “snowflake” or anything else. I will listen to my heart and follow it – I will protest for women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose. I will protest for clean air and water. I will protest for the education of our children, our most precious resource. I will protest for the voiceless, the impoverished, the mentally ill, the refugees and immigrants who want to build a new life in a country full of possibility like my great-grandparents. I will not be silenced. I will call and email and write letters. I will put my money where my mouth is.
Because I always was complete. I have always been enough.