I am currently sitting on my bed, MacBook on my lap, sadly deleting the original paragraph I wrote for this story. Because as life would have it, on the day I am suppose to submit an article about speaking up in my relationships, I am staring down at my cell phone, yet again, wondering what the hell I should say to a man. Should I ask for what I want and get him to meet me out for drinks tonight? Or should I bite my tongue, be patient, and see how this all plays out on its own, risking yet another disappointment if he cancels.
And I do this all the time. When it comes to relationships, I am constantly wondering when I should speak up or when I should just stand down. And being an intuitive, somewhat patient and kind of smart woman — logic puzzles and sudoku are my thing — doesn’t really help my case when it comes to deciding what I should do in relationships. Instead of belting out my emotions and concerns the minute they arise, I often pause to ask myself things like, "Will this get me what I want? Should I bring it up this way instead? Or what strategic thing can I say to help me win the war over the battle?’’
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While I’m pretty sure most self-help books and Montel Williams Show reruns would support this way of thinking: that one should ponder the implications of words as best they can before one says them outloud. However, taking the Ned Stark approach to life hasn’t always gotten me what I wanted. I’m not winning any wars or battles in my relationships being the nice girl to everyone. And while being strategic helps me sustain my relationships a bit longer, it still doesn’t help me feel any less pissed off. Or more understood. And it’s honestly, it’s starting to get old!
Where It All Came From
To be fair, I’ve always struggled with speaking up to those whose opinions mattered to me most. One summer while reading Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, I remembered that when I was young, I had a terrible amount of resentment towards my mother. That hussy had a really strong will, and if she didn’t like something I was doing, she would say it — with the couth and tact of a bulldozer.
I specifically remember the day my father caught me crying on the couch. My mother had just accused me of "sounding like a white girl" for only the 100th time. When my dad made me confront her about it, I was so scared to speak and so angry about being judged, that I didn’t know how express myself in a way that wouldn’t cause me more pain. And so I just stood there and cried my eyes out, instead. To make matters worse, she kept yelling at me to “Speak up! Damn it, child. Speak up!” But whenever I tried, she’d bulldoze over my words, denying their impact and ultimately leaving me unsatisfied.
For my artistic, sensitive soul, this was not the best introduction to having healthy communication. But luckily with Hay’s book, I was able to really pinpoint where this taking it on the chin behavior originally came from, and really see how I had been replicating it in all my most important relationships. I also realized that my mother has mostly retired her bulldozing ways, and perhaps maybe it was time for me to make some changes, too. Especially, if I wanted my life to look like a logic puzzle solved with pride, then I would have give my voice a real try in my next relationships.
When It’s Time To Speak Up
Luckily, the guy I’ve been texting isn’t a significant other — he’s just handing in his application for the approval process of becoming one. And truth be told, as the administrator and chief officer of this heart and vagina, despite how promising the sex may be, I’m not really compelled to let this application proceed any further.
Because how I feel is pretty pissed off that I still haven’t met this guy yet. How I feel is not that good about being cancelled on so many times. And how I really feel, is that if someone is super into being with me, they will make the time to put me at ease and meet up for goddamn cocktail.
And how I mostly feel is that it’s time to put this pot on the back burner, and clear the stove for other available, gorgeous, and hot penises! Err . . . I mean pots — thirsty, Freudian slip.
But cue the angry voice of my mother here: "Speak up, damn it. Speak up!" And I finally cave in to the gravity of this opportunity to finally practice what I really need. To set boundaries with people and learn both how to share my needs and demand that the be met. No more internal tears allowed.
And so, as I write this very paragraph, I just texted the man in question at the very same time: "Yo. Pussy. Are we doing this tonight? Or do you need more time still?"
What’s The Point
Speaking up in your relationships, I think has to be a combination of two things. First, you should absolutely communicate with a goal in mind. When you put conscious effort into how you speak to someone, you are setting your relationship for long term success. And studies show that the most successful, long-term relationships, whether they were romantic or platonic, where all supported by positive communication.
Second, just be honest. While my delivery wasn’t eloquent, it got out everything I needed to say: By calling him a pussy, I flat out admitted to both judging his cowardice and being annoyed with his inconsistency. Asking if we had plans allowed me to just get the question out there I really want an answer to. And throwing on the last sentence about timing was my way of saying, I understand your needs.
And whether he replies, cancels or ghosts on me completely, I kinda don’t give a damn. The truth of the matter is, it feels far better to ask for what we need, than to suffer silently and never saying anything all. I’m too old, I’m too nice and frankly, I’m too damn awesome to focus on a single pot that isn’t boiling over in excitement to finally be in my kitchen. Next!