Resilience: Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. (Wikipedia: Resilience)
Hang in there with me through this. Can you hold some space for it? Because this needs to be heard. (All of the following took place at my “other job”… which has nothing to do with Oula. But my present and ongoing recovery… has everything to do with Oula.)
“Heather, why do you always sound like a twelve year old?”
This was said to me in September by a consultant who is old enough to be my father and who also has over the past months commented on my hair, my glasses, my necklace, my clothing, and my laugh. On separate occasions. In a board room. Of men. And me. My personhood was allowed to be the subject of some discussion and my permission wasn’t asked.
The comment about my voice was said over the phone. I was alone. And it shook me. My response? I laughed and lowered my voice in gest and replied, “How does this sound?” He quipped immediately, “Now you sound thirteen.” I had no reply. I changed the subject back to work. I was unsettled.
Different setting and more recent, but equally outnumbered and always aware of feeling somehow, alone in the room, a participant called out, “I feel underdressed! You all are wearing ties!” This was stated to “all” of us while on an online VIP call. I was wearing a pretty top. I rarely wear ties as I am expected to play the part of “woman” on the team. My title? Director of Care Coordination. I have the word “Care” in my title. Everyone can wrap their brains around that. A woman who cares. Yes. That checks out (I am being facetious – the limitations of peoples’ expectations of me often piss me off but I treat it with humor, sarcasm and other acceptably “masked” responses). They aren’t wrong. I DO CARE. A LOT. Too much? Often! But is it clear that my title hides the fact that I contribute with other “hard skills” that equal or surpass my male counterparts but those skills aren’t assumed for me while they are ‘always’ assumed for them.
My response to the observation that we were “all” wearing ties – All six men and me - nothing. I said nothing. I may have grimaced. Did my team notice? Maybe. Did they say anything? No. I was… alone. Micro-aggressions can be unintentional. The constant need for me to “overlook” what has been said with perhaps innocence, is frequent. It’s just… another day.
However, I did say something to the consultant who remarked on my voice. It was too egregious to leave alone. I called him out, alone in the board room. I reminded him of all the various remarks that he has made about my personhood and how I hadn’t previously said anything simply because it seemed ignorance-at-play. But my voice? That’s something I am proud of. I LIKE ME. I have never identified as my hair, my clothing, or any aspect of what I put on. But my voice? Yeah. That’s me. So I let him know and ended with, “I expect that we will not have any future conversations about my person, ever. I do expect that we will focus on work and what we need to accomplish.”
Gaslighted? Yeah. He replied that he thought it was a compliment. I then responded, “I cannot conceive of a world in which a grown woman being referred to as a twelve year old is a compliment.” He continued to back-pedal and said he was sorry. He was effusive and he now continues to maintain a line that does not get crossed in any interactions with me. Good. It occurs to me that in this instance, I have some power. I am a Director. He is a consultant. If I had “no power”, would he continue to belittle and attempt to demean me and expect me to take it as some “compliment”? I don’t know but I have my suspicions.
And here we are…
Resilience. It’s a wonderful thing as long as we’re also correcting the systems that harm. I have a confession. It’s getting harder to stay silent: As I continue using my voice in my Oula classes and am seeing the prevalence of All-Of-Us using our voices… emoting and recovering from “death by a thousand cuts” and “having an ACE score of 8” and “my friend who died from substance abuse”. It’s getting harder to put up with… consultants.
If you know. You know. There is so much more to this community than some movement put to music. I’m aware that I am surrounded by wisdom and space in which I can actually fully exist which is… shocking and wonderful and for which my heart is so incredibly grateful. Truly. I will continue to show-up in love with our instructors for what they contribute to helping each of us discover and maintain our resilience. Everyone here is walking their own unique path. Every single one of us has micro and macro stressors that have wounded. Crises have happened. And every one of us is holding space as we navigate our own capacity to heal ourselves… to return ourselves to… ourselves. Not the same person as before. But not diminished or less from the harm caused.
Please. Please feel safe in recognizing your own resilience. And if you too would like to share with our community an instance of your own recovery and where you are in your journey. Hearing your voices, has certainly helped me to share my own.
I invite you to explore your own resilience. Personal Resilience. Community Resilience. Resilience in the Natural World. Deep breaths and persisting through a difficult day may be your story. If you feel inclined, please share your own understanding of resilience. We are holding space for you…XO-Heather
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