[Warning – this post includes ‘colorful’ language.]
I hear it more often than I’d like:
“You’re the most outspoken friend I have.”
I’m not stupid. I know what it means. Not always, but more often than not it’s polite code for “You’re a judgmental, opinionated bitch and I can’t believe you keep saying ___________.” … Am I? Sometimes I wonder. Opinionated? Hell yes – absolutely. Judgmental? Well, if you mean do I judge someone who’s being an ass or completely ignorant – then yeah, I suppose I am. Bitch? Well, I guess that depends on if you feel you’re on the wrong side of my blistering commentary.
Any of my friends or readers should make their own call about whether they can handle all that, because I have no intention of stopping. And it’s more than me just wanting to put my opinions out there. I have a voice. And I intend to use it.
You know why? Because this shit was HARD. WON. I did not grow up in an environment where I was encouraged to speak up for myself… or even THINK for myself. I was trained from day one to be respectful, silent, malleable, and to honor those in authority over me. Only problem is, when you’re raised as a girl in the church in the south – nearly everyone is in authority over you.
Don’t talk back. Don’t be disrespectful. Don’t be mean. Don’t start a fight. Don’t contradict me. Don’t… Don’t… DON’T!
Fuck that. I left that life, that ideology, that repressive mentality.
It took me years – decades even – to figure out who I was. To find that I did have thoughts and opinions that came not from the church, my parents, ‘some guy’, or any other supposed authority in my life who felt that it was their prerogative to dictate who and what I could be, think, feel & do.
I started fighting back very early, though I was so buried under the oppression that I didn’t even realize what I was doing. One of the ‘acceptable’ types of music in my house was songs from the 1950s and 60s. I almost know more of that music than I do my own generation’s. But one of the songs that I loved, and played all the time was this:
So yeah… I was already on my way when I was just a little thing in elementary and middle school. There was already a little Maddie inside, screaming & pounding against the walls of the fundamentalist prison, while on the outside I was the good student, attentive daughter, regular church-goer (and participator)… everything that was expected of me.
The older I got, the more hypocrisy I saw around me, the more I questioned WHY all these people got to make claims on who & what I was… and I started pushing against the bars. But still I was quiet. I was a ‘good girl’… I just had questions. But there were never any answers – never a single thing that made sense to me or stopped the screaming that was inside trying to be heard.
I’m 40 now… I won’t bore you with the entire journey, but it’s taken me a LONG time to get where I am. Every step was a struggle. Every breakthrough was a battle. I’ve had to fight family, religion, convention, geography, relationships and even myself. Even as recently as last year I had to stand up to a toxic person who felt they had the right to dictate my life and assert that no… in fact they did NOT have that right, and I would NOT be controlled.
But I’m here now. And yes, I am opinionated. I am a living, thinking, engaged human being who insists on being a viable & involved part of my world. So I have an opinion on just about everything. The question I have to ask is… WHY DON’T YOU??
I will continue to speak. I will continue to share my opinions & put my voice out into the world. I will be heard. But does that mean I am inflexible in those opinions? Of course not. If someone has a differing opinion and wants to engage me in a discussion on the topic, I am thrilled. I want to hear it – I want to be pushed to justify and support WHY it is that I hold the beliefs I do. One thing I am not, and will not be, is a hypocrite. I ‘bring it’ on a daily basis, and welcome those who want to do the same. But I also do not believe that every subject has two sides. If someone were to engage with me on the topic of if the world is flat – that’s just idiocy and I don’t have time for it. So there are those moments where I disengage & disregard the stupid.
But for every handful of responses I get of “you’re so outspoken”… I occasionally get the one person who says to me “Thank you for everything you say. I don’t have your courage, but it makes me a little stronger every time I see you standing up for what you believe.”
So that’s who I am and who I will be.
And I don’t give a good god-damn if you don’t like it.