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Monday, 25 February 2013

speaking up

i sat restrained by the seatbelt not knowing how to respond to the words i had just heard. silently walking towards the shopping centre destination of choice i was actively trying not to utter words that were racing around the track inside my mind. this was the start of a girlie day involving shopping and dinner, the hours stretched out ahead of me. 

glass doors swung open as we approached the department store, bright lights blinded, loud music filled our ears. still silent we walked through shoes, we walked through clothes, as we arrived at the beauty department i heard her say "i've upset you, haven't i?" nervous laughter overtook me as i responded "no, but you obviously don't think i'm very good at this." 

then i listened again as she spoke specifically about what she thought was wrong with my writing. 

in my minds eye i was back at school being given instruction on how you communicate correctly. the race car in my mind hit the sidings. out spilled the words i had tried to contain; this space is a joy to me, it's not homework it's something i actively want to do, it is a shared space with a good friend, it's our observations of our life journey, i don't want my creativity stifled by red pen imagery. she apologised, said she was only trying to help. i told her i knew that and accepted her apology. 

the next day i pondered what had been said. quietly i sat in my living room and wondered if really i needed to overhaul how i write. she was specific about just one thing, all i needed to look at was that, wasn't it? the more i thought about it the more i saw a pattern. this was the third friend that had spoken to me about what i was doing or how i was living my life. i wondered what was it about me that friends felt able not just to criticise but to vocalise that criticism to me?

the following day i thought about the pattern. i had listened to what those former friends had said to me but i had never responded. i let the words they spoke become valid by never challenging them. 

i realised i had to speak up.  not just for the sake of not loosing an old, long and trusted friendship but because i knew i had to be truthful. i had to be open about how i felt. i couldn't just say that i hadn't been offended to make her feel better whilst making myself feel worse. i was the one who had to acknowledge the truth in what was said but be truthful about how important what she criticised is to me. if i didn't do it, who would?

the following week i spoke up. although i knew her intentions were good, i needed her to know how she made me feel. i wanted her to know this because her friendship is important to me and because i knew if i didn't say anything, however much i tried, i knew our friendship would be affected and i didn't want that. 

through tears i spoke of hurt caused by incorrect assumptions, of the difference between asking for help from friends and of unsolicited advice offered, of personality types and communicating with all. and this beautiful friend of mine she not only graciously accepted my words but she thanked me. thanked me for taking the trouble to explain how her words had affected me, thanked me for helping her understand that hurt and thanked me for caring about our friendship enough to speak up. 

i have learnt that others learn to love and respect you by how you love and respect yourself. don't sell yourself short. you are valuable. don't be afraid to let the world see that. dare to speak up. dare to love yourself.


responding to emily's dare.


  1. i am standing and applauding. can you hear me? well done, girl. well done!

  2. Wow, I can relate so much to what you are saying here. I think sometimes girlfriends think they have to solve whatever situation we discuss, when all we really want is a listening ear. And unsolicited advice can be hurtful at times... even judgmental. I can tend to be silent too, and I applaud how you handled this too :) Good post! I love the conversational way you write, by the way :)