“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola
“Mammy, stop talking, okay? Look at Lalaloopsy,” said Claire, my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. She held up one hand to interrupt me, while the other was on her hip right before she reached for her baby doll.
This was in response to me saying, “Well, Claire, I think it’s time for …”
She’d already had a bath, snack, and story time, so all that remained was bedtime. I guess she hoped to change up the conversation and get out of it.
I thought, I bet your granddaddy wishes he could pull off your cuteness when he changes the topic while I’m telling him he still isn’t listening well.
I thought about my grown son and daughter who’d probably appreciate a grin like I gave Claire instead of a glare when they try to shut me up with “Mom, …” said in two syllables and in a tone that, if you’re a mother, you know grinds off this page.
My friend probably wished I’d laughed along when, like Claire, she used hand signals to wave away my mention of depression as she rambled about how grateful she and I should be for never experiencing anything like it. She said, “Not you. You’re happy and funny.”
She’d sat in spiritual groups where I’d shared about bouts with depression, as well as sitting across the table like this evening and talking one-on-one. All I wanted was a to-go box and my check before I said something critical like, “Why do we bother to get together? Is it so you can change the subject? I mean, what’s the point?”
“The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society.” Michael Leunig
My husband listened that evening after I crammed the box into the refrigerator and talked about my sad lot in life. I said, “How could she not know I’ve been depressed? Or maybe she didn’t want to hear it?”
With him as my witness, I accused her of being thoughtless toward others. I talked about how she asked questions, but only if those questions bring the conversation back around to her. I mentioned how she had something to prove with every point she made and how she always, always, always had an agenda, usually political over personal. I blamed her a dozen times for a ruined evening before I talked about myself and how I felt.
I hurt when I’m not heard. Therefore, instead of running off with my to-go box, I need to speak up.
A friend cautioned me about this … about friends and my conversations when I’d whine no one listened to me, tell how everyone interrupted, and settled on shutting up as the solution. She bolstered me time and again, but kept asking the same question I was tempted to ask my other friend at dinner, “What’s the point?”
My point was to make them listen to me.
My friend’s point was for me to say what I have to say. To speak up. To live out loud.
Even though she’s been gone for years, I can almost sense my friend’s relief now that I’m finally listening to her.
Here’s the stuff that’s made it hard to say what I have to say:
- I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I dislike confrontation.
- I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I’m uncomfortable with being perceived as confrontational.
- I’m living out loud even when people don’t like what I have to say.
- I’m living out loud instead of screaming when I’m not heard the first time or the second or the third. With each repetition, what I want gets clearer even to me.
- I’m living out loud even though I shake, which happens when I’m afraid I won’t be heard yet again. I say what I have to say until I am heard. It helps I’m a former kindergarten teacher.
Here’s the stuff that’s made it worth it:
I’m “living out loud” because of the tremendous gift of being heard on my blog and videos.
I’m “living out loud” because of how significant speaking up and being heard has been toward restoration and happiness and toward getting my own life. A friend remarked, “Have you noticed how much happier you seem?”
Why, yes, I have.
I’m “living out loud” because of my daughter and my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law; because of my quiet friends who have bold statements to make, but they’re not sure they can; because of friends I care deeply about who aren’t speaking up to their husbands and grown children and parents even though they need to; because I wish someone had spoken up for me when, even though I looked capable, I didn’t feel it.
I’m “living out loud” so Claire remembers she told me to stop talking, but I didn’t. And so she won’t either.
What did you come into this life to do?
In This Together,