I used to be a wallflower.
No seriously, ask anybody.
I didn’t speak to my mother-in-law for six years, unless she looked directly at me. I didn’t know what to call her. I wasn’t sure how to get her attention. It took having my daughter Abby for me to say “Barbara” and even then I stuttered over it!
In high school, I would go a whole day without talking to anyone other than my closest friends. In Junior High, Mr. Leavitt got so angry at my mumbling that he screamed at me in my face. I fell under the desk. It was the 80’s – teachers were allowed to scream at students and not get fired.
I was timid. I was shy. I had no self-confidence and rarely started a conversation. I had friends, don’t get me wrong. It was a small group, but a group of girls I am still proud to have in my life. It wasn’t like I was a hermit and never left my room. I was just quiet and waited for my turn to speak.
Then I had Bridget.
As I became her advocate, I found my voice. Not just in relation to her health, but in my family. In my career. In my personal and professional lives. I did not do it alone. Bridget’s teachers and her therapists gave me the words and the confidence to speak up when I need to.
To listen when I need to.
To cause holy h*ll when I need to.
When it comes to my words, I know I would not have them if I didn’t have Bridget.
I would not have been a panel member of Care to The People, joined the school committee or for that matter the PTA.
I know without Bridget I would not have had the confidence to audition for Listen to Your Mother, gone to BlogHer or had a conversation with a person I had only met online. I would not continue using my blog to spread my truth, my ideas and my thoughts.
I sometimes feel bad for my husband David. I am not the girl he met 20 years ago. I am sure at times, he wishes I was the timid, docile girl he first took to a Jimmy Buffet concert.
I know he is proud of my accomplishments. What I have learned in finding my voice is that it doesn’t matter if my husband, my family or my friends are proud of me.
It matters what I think of me.