As a woman who addresses conflict, I've earned a reputation among certain people in my place of business.
It isn't the reputation I want.
I can't change it.
This is a point of contention between me and my boss. He insists that I have some kind of control over my reputation. If I'd use different words or not display emotion, then others would talk well of me.
I told him that's bullshit. We sat across from each other at his desk. I held up my left hand in a pre-count gesture. "As a woman who addresses conflict, let me tell you how this goes." I started counting adjectives with my thumb, "I'm a slut, whore, bitch, control freak, cunt." With my left hand now fully open to the side of my head, I looked him straight in the eye.
"This is how it's been my entire fucking life. This is how it is. People make up rumors because that's easier than actually making time to listen to and truly consider what I have to say."
As if to scare me, he said, "Some people fear you. I've actually heard that word: fear."
"That's on them," I said.
I decided to tell my sister the truth. She indicated that now isn't the right time for her to meet with me in-person, so I wrote and sent her a letter. I struggled a bit with whether to write it, then with whether to send it.
A couple of my first drafts went into some stuff that I later decided tangential to my main goal.
Which is this: I want her to know the following things.
Yes, of course I feel angry about some key incidents that my brain wants to color in villain-and-hero terms. This is natural. This is called life. I'll think this type of black and white thought almost immediately because that's what I got used to doing in my earlier years. Now it's up to me to catch my thoughts. [A lady named Lynne Namka writes great articles about "catching" emotions.] It's up to me to catch them and then release them in favor of healthier life skills.
One of my fears sometimes is that I ask too many questions. I think this fear stems from some of my earlier experiences. It's up to me now to trust myself, and part of that is allowing myself to ask as many questions as I feel necessary.
Once upon a time, important people in my life weren't available to me emotionally. I'd ask questions, make a mistake, or otherwise require attention, and mostly they'd ignore me, respond with frustration or impatience, or provide as little attention as necessary to mend the situation. They were unhappy in their existences. As I observed their personalities, I decided that staying mostly invisible would be safest.
Invisible to visible filled me with anxiety when I first tried it. It was difficult to speak my mind and do it in the moment and without self-judgment. When I first tried it, I spoke my mind and then judged myself a lot -- I should have said it that way, this way, or another way... I should've known better... what if I did it wrong?
Confidence is a gradual process. Confidence requires questions.
Well hello there.