Finding My Voice

It has been pointed out that I have not been myself lately.

Side note:  this is never a compliment; no one ever says “You’re not yourself,” and means it in a good way.  Which, now that I think about it, is probably a good thing.

So I’ve spent some time reflecting on what could possibly be wrong.  There is nothing that stands out for me, a few smaller items, but what human being doesn’t have a few anxiety-producing, frustrating or negative-in-some-other-way issues in their lives?

So I look back to the past few days and examine my behavior, and the corresponding thoughts rolling around my head.

And here’s what I’ve come up with:  I am finding it more difficult than usual to express my opinions and my feelings.

“More difficult than usual” is a key phrase, as I have always found it difficult to express opinions that are important to me personally, or that I fear will be controversial.  I.  Am.  Non-confrontational.  This cannot be overstated, when it comes to me.  So if I mentally project that what I am going to say may upset you, or rile you up, or you simply won’t agree with it, then, more likely than not, I’m not going to say it.

Certainly not the healthiest mindset, a fact of which I am growing more and more painfully aware.

So, back to the past several days… I have had a few incidents, minor in nature, but incidents nonetheless where I had an opinion, but felt unable to express that opinion.  The variety of reasons that I felt unable to express myself would take entirely too wrong to explain, but the bottom line is:  I feel frustrated that my opinion is not being heard.

And it’s my 12-step program that’s tripping me up!

Two different well-known phrases have been line-dancing through my head of late, and I finally realize that I am having an issue with them:

1.  Restraint of pen and tongue

2.  Clean up your side of the street

In case they are not self-explanatory, the first talks about the idea of prudence in communication, rather than giving into impulse, flying off the handle, and saying things that I will later regret.  The second is the idea that the only actions that I can control are my own, and it is not my place to judge the actions of someone else.

Both very sensible ideas with which I find no fault.  On the other hand…

As someone who organically over thinks before I speak, the restraint of pen and tongue may very well be doing me a disservice.  One incident in particular stands out, where I, at long last, voiced an opinion, and that opinion got shot down quickly and strongly.  Oh no, confrontation!  The problem (as I saw it) was that the person in question misunderstood my position.  But all I’m thinking is, “this is what you get for speaking up,” and I basically let it go.

This has happened more than once this week, and I realize that I am the common denominator, so I need to figure this out.

Finding the balance between expressing yourself in a healthy way, setting boundaries with the people expressing their opinions to you, and not going off-the-rails crazy, is a challenge… and that is an understatement.

But, what the hell, if I could stay sober for 643 days, then surely I can figure out the solution to this problem!

Today’s Miracle:

Halloween, adorable kids in costumes, and loads of candy… need I say more?

Posted on October 31, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. YES! I have this problem too. My problem though, is I stuff and stuff then explode. Or when people shoot my ideas down, I cry…lol, also not effective. What helps me when thinking about it and worrying about hurting the other person’s feelings by speaking up is I think, did they care about hurting my feelings or where they concerned about being truthful? 9/10 times they are just being truthful and they deserve the same from me. GOOD LUCK, its hard. But don’t let it live in your head…


  2. One tool i’ve picked up recently is allowing myself to procrastinate worry / anger. i’m a great procrastinator and used to berate myself for not getting more done more often, but now i’ve realized it can be useful when it comes to negative emotions. Today my son snapped at me (god love him but he’s a crabby kid) and i felt my button getting pushed so i just said i wasn’t going to get into it with him and extricated myself from the situation by the conflict. i felt all the words i wanted to tell him rise up as i was walking away but i knew they were coming from anger and not my ‘balanced place’. So i told myself i could get angry about it later. i told myself this because i know that as time passes the anger always subsides!

    Thanks for the food for thought, my friend!


    • Oh, Al, I could have used that advice yesterday, and with my crabby son! I am seriously going to try that the next time he pushes my buttons (which will probably be in about 5 minutes), and I promise I am going to report the results to you.

      Thank you so much for this advice, I can’t wait to try it out!


  3. Ah Josie – you’re speaking my language here.

    So see, I was very much the same. Didn’t want to rock the boat. Didn’t want to seem rude or unable to get along. Didn’t want to see unsightly or ungainly of mind. Didn’t want to be *that* guy who set off the fireworks. So I kept to myself. Let the resentments grow like orchids in a greenhouse. But I thought, better that than be a jerk about things. Ugh.

    Now, what I have found, and this is counter intuitive almost, is that those feelings were wrapped up in ego. I was making what I was thinking much more important (and making myself much more important) than it should have been. That is, I felt myself so important that even my thoughts would disturb others, like they would be wrapped around what I had to say. You know what I mean? I thought I was feeling the opposite – trying to be agreeable, etc. but I was judging others when I didn’t speak and didn’t give them the *opportunity* to react, as I had already judged them. Now, when I would speak and get shot down, I am now playing less than. I am giving them power over me that they neither asked for or deserve.

    And when I got into that “I’m not worthy” or “I am not important” I am wrapped up in self again. I am thinking of self ….ie. self centered. Again, this is counter intuitive because I think that I am the victim and that it was *they* who caused me the harm. But I let them. I gave them that power.

    In regards to the quotes there, I agree with what you say about them. Restraint prevents us from jumping down someone’s throat. But, it doesn’t mean that we can’t state an opinion. It doesn’t mean we can’t speak out against something that goes against our values or judgement. It doesn’t mean we turtle into ourselves and not be heard. That is my opinion of course 🙂 And it’s taken me time to see that I DO have things to say that might help someone or a situation, I do have opinions and suggestions borne of experience. I DO have a God-given intellect and conscious that I am free to share and develop and showcase. I don’t have to attack someone, but I can attack their arguement. That’s a big difference for me. Making my voice heard is something difficult for me, but when I do it, in a healthy way (or even not so healthy..ha ha), I am respecting myself.

    not sure if this makes any sense to you, but this is something I have struggled with greatly and have been able to get some clarity around it lately, for me.

    I hope that it comes to you as well…resentments are killer 😦

    Wonderful post, as usual, Josie – thank you for sharing it 🙂

    Love and light,


  4. It made perfect sense, and it does strike a chord. I can’t say that I’ve made tons of progress on this issue since I wrote it, but the idea that my ego is standing in the way definitely rings a bell. I had a “funny” AA moment that I know you would appreciate. Things have devolved a bit since I wrote this post, more pointless bickering, to the point where this morning I reached a detente with at least one of the people I mentioned in this post. I am so beside myself I almost miss my Friday morning meeting (home group), because, alcoholic that I am, I reason that I am too upset to go. But, common sense prevails, I head down to the meeting, and guess what the topic is…


    I almost groaned out loud. Anyone that says that God doesn’t speak directly to us is probably just not listening hard enough!

    Sorry for the long comment back, but I knew you would appreciate the synchronicity of it all!


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