“Thought I’d come for tea. Would you like a visit?” Chris asked.
“Oh sure,” I replied, then remembering our outing planned for the gorge the next day I added, “Oh, I forgot, we are going to the Falls tomorrow.”
“Maybe we can come. Jerry might have to work, but I’ll ask him,” she said excitedly, while my mind was immediately yelling what my mouth would not— I didn’t ask you!
Caught off guard without defenses to ease myself out of the situation, the day to come already felt ruined. Enjoying the freedom to do what I want, when I want, was stolen.
Then the reproach begins, adding to the disappointment of having others go to my special place that weren’t asked to come: At your age, you can’t speak up? That thread bangs down heavily making the dissatisfaction of a friend’s overstepping her boundaries particularly jarringly, also making me aware of how easily others take advantage of me.
I’m a mouse. But another voice breaks in, you were put in a tough position without time to think of way to say no gracefully. How about, FUCK NO! Instead it was a meek, mild, fake enthusiastic OK.
“I’ll ask Jerry, and get back to you,” she says.
“OK,” I respond, my being somewhat fractured, perhaps dissociating. Part of me with her on the phone, another part elsewhere in the magical world where I had a voice.
The usual self-hate crept in for not speaking up, for allowing it, then feeling victimized. For her yet again taking something from me. We’ve had serious friction before. My dignity stolen with the constant swipes, like daggers to my belly being hurled whenever she needed a cleansing.
After years of not speaking up, I finally did. The crack in the friendship since then remained deep. She did not like me calling her out about the snotty remarks.
She phones after more than a year of not calling. We still meet monthly with our little group that travels to each other’s homes for cards, snacks, laughter, and fun. But we stopped doing too much together like we once used too. And we definitely stopped doing things as a foursome.
It was OK. We got through the day without major catastrophes, but I would have rather been on my own. There were specifications about what time they had to be back. A quick peek at another falls on the way home was scraped. On our own we would have.
Going along with something unwanted disturbed my peace. Waking at 4 AM, I was very awake. That has not occurred in over a month, and it’s probably not coincidental. Only this morning have words bubbled up that could have been said; no, we planned this outing just for the two of us. Simple, direct, and oh so easy.
When my inner life is disturbed it causes this upset in sleep. A voice stolen such as mine was, doesn’t come back, not really. A life where my own needs were ignored while attacks to my body occurred over and over, takes the voice and a life.
I live with punches, whirling around like a dervish just to please others. Giving up what little I have, then nothing’s left. That is not OK. It wasn’t OK to say OK. Rationally it is such a little thing, but looms large because it feels like a repeat of the past.
The solitude I crave and flourish within has much to do with this flaw in my character. I cannot speak up about my own preferences and needs. Resentment, even hate follows, for myself, and the offenders.
It is easier to navigate life on my own where freedom is sometimes found, luscious freedom oh so sweet. Even in solitude I am captive to my own negativity, but am finding my way out of the bondage.
It becomes much harder around others, especially those that are so needy and controlling.