Finding my voice! Between 2008-2009, I created three embarrassing scenes. One where I was upset for Oliver and confronted a person or persons, one about the 2008 financial meltdown, and one I can’t remember, but had something to do with politics and it was piggybacked on from the earlier scene about Oliver. When I look back now, I don’t have many regrets confronting the person about Oliver, but I don’t blame them anymore either. It came from a place of protection for my son, and now I know why. He was struggling in so many ways, and I felt helpless, not knowing how to help him. The other two came from a place of needing to feel like the smart person in the room while adding drinks to the mix bolstered my unsupported confidence. I spoke too loudly and forcefully about something that I had a little bit of knowledge about, revealing that I didn’t fully understand, thereby showing my arrogance. The next morning from these two scenes, I was more than ashamed and embarrassed; I was humiliated and embarrassed. My very favorite character in all the Disney movies is Mulan’s father in the movie Mulan. My favorite scene and line is when she comes to him in pain, and he so lovingly and compassionately responds, “Sometimes the last bloom is the most beautiful.” I so admired his quiet strength. And it was a concrete image of something that I aspired to be. So, in those three concentrated outbursts in my life, I let myself down, and therefore, I felt like I let my family down and I let those moments usher in great shame and embarrassment. And that shame has ruled my life for the past 10 years. I think I could have withstood one of those episodes, but they all happened in a concentrated time period and hit me very hard. So, after the third event I decided NOT to talk about something that I don’t know very much about anymore. I went on a quest to learn and listen more. And I did that. I got very quiet and hid and decided for myself “who am I to give my opinion about every single little thing to make myself feel important?” and I became a victim of myself and every strong personality out there. I isolated and lost contact with many people during that time. That is when the “sin” kicked in and when I lost my voice and power and thereby putting out the light that God instilled in me at birth. I started giving away all my power more than ever.
And then I lost Oliver. Why? What was my role in Oliver’s suffering? Everyone had always told me what a great mother I was. Within five years, I lost both my identities…someone who was kind, level headed, a leader in some sense and a great mom. Today, in many ways I feel like Oliver sacrificed his life so that I could find mine. When I lost Oliver, I promised him that I would search for my role in his suffering. So, I have been actively doing that for five years now. Through his suffering and death, I have learned the power of humility, empathy, listening, what we have power over, and what we do not. I have learned the power of asking questions for clarity of something when I don’t understand, and I have lost the need to be heard and admired just for the sake of being heard and admired, and I don’t just chime in so that I can sound important. I have learned what living really looks like. It isn’t holding back and playing safe. It is putting your very best forward every day and commit to life and those you love and being thankful for every day! It is risking “butting in” and “making waves” to tell the truth in love and to check in on people because you care. It is showing up for people and pouring time, interest, and love into their lives. It is doing something each day to make this world a little better. I want to say that my ego has been crushed and it has in many ways, but when you feel very small and ashamed and embarrassed, I believe that the ego is still there and roaring. I believe that when you can speak your truth in love and kindness without a thought of the repercussions, then the ego has been squelched and the concern of man no longer rules over your spirit. So, this is where I am now. I want to contribute a loving and life-filled voice now. Ironically, I was never known to be the quiet one growing up. I was known as the talker in my family and in my elementary classrooms, so losing my voice is a new phenomenon to me, but I didn’t lose it. God transformed it from the ashes. I lost my voice to shame and isolation. God changed and renewed it through losing Oliver and my mom into a voice that speaks in love and truth. Now, with God’s help, I am at the crossroads of learning and practicing of when to be quiet and when to speak up. I feel my mom’s and Oliver’s presence and suffering more than ever as I think that their two biggest sources of pain were that they were not able to speak their truths. They did not know how. Given how strong my voice was growing up, I can’t believe I am writing this, but I understand that now. And I have got to get to the place where I can speak in truth and love and not give a thought to what man thinks. I have got to find my voice again and I have got to share that voice, if not for me, then for Oliver and my mom.