There have been times in my life when I wish I had spoken up, but didn’t. Are you like that? Or, do you just say what’s on your mind? I tend to be a rule follower and obedient, but these traits can sometimes lead me to not speak up when it’s needed. And, then, I suffer. I’m not happy. I’ve spared the other person’s feelings but not my own. I’ll give you some examples.
Once, shortly after being married, we moved from Buffalo, New York to Newark, Delaware. My husband took a job doing research at a rehabilitation hospital and I was just finishing my master’s degree in nursing. My course work was done, but I had elected to do a thesis, and although my data had been compiled, I was still in the process of writing up my findings. After I accomplished that, I set about getting my first job as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. I applied to the same hospital system for which my husband was working. I mean, why not?! It was a large children’s hospital and my specialty was children. However, during my first visit there, the physician with whom I interviewed (a woman) asked me if I was planning to have children! I answered. But, what I should have done is excuse myself to go directly to the human resources office to report this illegal line of questioning. She also bluntly accused me of doing nothing (the exact word she used) but following my husband around the country to secure a job! Well – yeah – we’re married – we wanted to live together. And, that was the crux of the problem! She and her husband, another physician, did not live in the same state! Let’s just say, I kept my mouth shut, and I did not get the job.
I also kept my mouth shut when the butterfly garden at the school which I tended as part of an afterschool garden club for 13 years was sprayed with a pesticide. They claimed ignorance, and yet, it had never been sprayed before! I left the volunteer position that summer – less than two months after it was sprayed.
I did not say anything when I was hired for my last job but my boss went on vacation for the first three weeks of my employment. Big mistake. Yes – one I agreed to – the boss wanted me to start and I wanted the job, so I agreed to start in her absence. It should have given me some “clue” that there were “other” bosses I was going to have to deal with – and there were.
And, I did not speak up when I took my youngest son on a college tour to my alma mater (it was my husband’s alma mater as well), and the director of the department was annoyed at me for answering a question that he thought my son should have answered. You can be sure I kept my mouth shut during the rest of the interview. When parents have to pay tuition upwards of 40K we have the right to ask or answer questions, don’t you think?
There are other examples as well. But, my point is that I have never been good at speaking up. Instead, I fester like a pimple on a face getting fuller and fuller, ready to explode with pus. Pus-filled angry words spill out when I cannot contain them any longer. But, unfortunately, the person who has angered me has no idea. It’s my husband who bears the teary explanation about my dark mood.
This happened last night after a family phone call. I won’t go into the details but let me just say that I did something nice, and it was not acknowledged at all. I had to ask about whether it was received. And, then I found the handmade item (although raved about when I asked) was not even being used. Again, I did not speak up. The upshot of it all was that I was hurt. Very hurt. And, I only have myself to blame.
I keep doing this to myself. I put myself on a limb to help or be nice or volunteer or be informative or be curious and I get nothing in return. I have to stop. I just don’t know-how. I don’t know how to not do things to show those I love that I care about them. But, after last night, I need to learn how. I need to speak up when something is not right or not appreciated or mistaken for nothing when it actually is something.
There are times in my past when I have been able to speak up. Usually, it involves writing to prove my point or organize my thoughts. I should tell my readers about those times in another post. But, for now, just know that I have been able to say what’s on my mind, too. I just need to do it more. I’m not a door-mat. I’m a person. And, I do have a voice. I just need to use it.