Finding My Voice
Today, I’d like to share a guest post written by Joan, one of the strongest women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I hope you enjoy her post and can identify with what she’s overcome the past few years after she suddenly became single following a more than 40 year marriage.
Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Find out how you can be the next writer for Simply Solo here!
Simply Solo Spotlight: Finding My Voice
I remember, maybe, vaguely, faintly, having a voice at one time in my life. It may have been when I was born and learned to cry, which is one’s first means of vocal communication. Somewhere along life’s path, I lost my voice. I allowed it to be taken from me and I freely gave it up without realizing or thinking about it. I’m not sure exactly where and when that happened but, if I trace it back, I am sure it was in my early, formative years. Isn’t that the acceptable answer? Blame things on others and early childhood experiences, in other words, our parents, siblings, society, and upbringing.
Well my friends, let me tell you, I found and reclaimed my voice. Yes, after being separated for more than 60 years, I found it and treasure it more because something so precious that was lost for so long is now back with its rightful owner – ME. Trust me when I say if any attempt is ever made to remove or wrestle it from me, there will be so much wrath leveled upon the offender they will never regroup. My promise to myself as my own best friend and to my voice is I will never let life, circumstances, or anyone rob me of my voice again. I now have a voice to say what I want, need, and expect. Additionally, life experiences have given me the abilities to think independently, stand on my own two feet, and clearly articulate my wants, needs, desires, and dreams.
After all is said and done, I am sure the events of the past two and a half years played a major part in finding and reclaiming my voice. Curious minds may want to know what happened during this time. Well, you don’t need to read the Enquirer, as you won’t find it there. Also, you don’t need to listen to gossip, as we all know how gossip chains work. How much credibility do they have? Less than none in my book, which I could put in analytic terms such as R-Value, Confidence Interval, etc., but I won’t bore you with those. Gossip chains thrive on DRAMA, which is always more intriguing than just the plain Jane facts, ma’am.
What are the plain Jane facts, ma’am? Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF as we like to call it) is that after 43.5 years of marriage; 48-49 of relationship; surviving the trials and tribulations of military life in support of (ISO) my soldier husband’s military career; raising a tight-knit, loving family and the two most absolutely marvelous children a mother could ever wish for let alone have; losing our first Grandson under devastating circumstances; arrival of precious Grandchildren; medical issues ranging from the routine and minor to the not so minor such as a mini-stroke suffered by my loving husband; and finally setting a target date to step into retirement, I found myself no longer the cherished and loved wife and person I’d always believed I was. Yes, it rocked my world and a lot of others’ that are near and dear to me.
However, life goes on, we put one foot in front of the other; endure the mourning process for the loss of the old life and everything we built together, the plans, hopes and dreams of retirement, and begin a new chapter in life on a fresh page, creating new memories while cherishing fond memories of days gone by.
I learned a lot through life experiences and the breakup of a long-term relationship with the only man I ever truly loved other than my father. What happened? Who knows (do you see my shoulder shrug and eye roll here?). To begin my journey transitioning from what I thought, for the most part, was a happy marriage, I had to determine what was in my hands and sphere of influence to control. Knowing that I cannot make someone love me, how do I accept the rejection (as I saw it then) and step out on my own?
Please keep in mind my comment on “as I saw it then” because it is not how I see it now, two and a half years later, much wiser and stronger. I was brought up that in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, is how life and marriage is. Divorce was a big red-letter word and instant ostracization (black-balling) from the entire community and world. The big scarlet letter “D” was stamped on a woman’s forehead for the entire world to see.
Luckily for me, that is no longer the case and divorce is more the rule than how I was raised believing that you make the best of everything. In other words, if life isn’t to your liking, well then, live in a self-created dream world. Is that what I did? Again, who knows? I just know that a lifetime of love, happiness, relationships, hopes, and dreams were destroyed and thrown away like trash in a matter of seconds with no recognizable forewarning. Talk about sudden death….WHEW!!.
Well, getting back to the original topic of my voice, again, I am not sure of the exact time or circumstances under which I discovered it missing and reclaimed it, but I know it was somewhere in the last two years. Where was my voice all those years? It must have been hiding somewhere within my mind, body, soul, or maybe someone had it in safe-keeping for me when I eventually realized that I lost it, needed it and now was equipped to use it. Maybe it was my sister, my Mom, my Dad, or some other loved one who departed this life. However it returned, I thank my lucky stars, the planets, constellations, and any other entity(ies) that played a hand in its return. You know, maybe it was Aunt Jo, who I loved dearly and always looked out for me too. As a child, I remember wishing with all my heart that I could go live with her. I rest assured in the belief that we will all be reunited, just as I was with my voice.
Having my voice back allows me to stand on my own two feet and, in my newfound clear voice, state what I:
- Want: to be treated with respect, honesty, and dignity in all actions and communications; to be loved and respected for who I am, not who someone thinks I “should be.”
- Expect: to have my voice heard; what I say listened to and respected, even if you disagree; to afford the same courtesy and respect to those whose voice I hear.
- Need: to ensure my wants and expectations are met; be my own best friend.
I also found my voice can quite clearly articulate that if one cannot interact with me respectfully, honestly, and cherish our friendship; they are not worthy of my friendship or time. I hear my voice as it tells those who don’t treat me kindly, in a loving manner, to MOVE ON OUT of MY life. Yes, because it is—it is MY life!
Is Divorce and the choices people make good or bad? I’ll leave that to the sociologists and behavioral scientists to debate. In the meantime, I can say unequivocally that it was the right path for me as I emerge a new person, free to experience life, make my own choices, take care of myself, and not worry about taking care of, picking up after, cooking for, doing laundry for… anyone but me. Yes, it is a little bit selfish…but is that bad? Ask the professionals that one too…I’m too busy enjoying life and looking forward to my next adventure to worry about it. Some will say that is really being hedonistic…but again, I punt that to the pros and everyone else to worry about. See you all on the happy side….:-)
Oh dear! What? Did I hear someone say something about hogwash and sour grapes? Whoa! Rest assured the “hogs” are either out of my life or well on their way. Don’t waste your time or money, as I don’t need anything to wash them with. As for “Sour Grapes,” heck, I turned them into a mighty fine beverage of choice a long time ago that I now share with special people in my life – those who truly love me, like me for who I am, and respect my voice as well as the person I’ve become. Life is good and getting better for my voice and me, just like the finest wine.
Copyright 2013. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.