I used to be a wallflower.
No seriously, ask anybody.
I didn’t speak to my mother-in-law for six years, unless she looked directly at me. I didn’t know what to call her. I wasn’t sure how to get her attention. It took having my daughter Abby for me to say “Barbara” and even then I stuttered over it!
In high school, I would go a whole day without talking to anyone other than my closest friends. In Junior High, Mr. Leavitt got so angry at my mumbling that he screamed at me in my face. I fell under the desk. It was the 80’s – teachers were allowed to scream at students and not get fired.
I was timid. I was shy. I had no self-confidence and rarely started a conversation. I had friends, don’t get me wrong. It was a small group, but a group of girls I am still proud to have in my life. It wasn’t like I was a hermit and never left my room. I was just quiet and waited for my turn to speak.
Then I had Bridget.
As I became her advocate, I found my voice. Not just in relation to her health, but in my family. In my career. In my personal and professional lives. I did not do it alone. Bridget’s teachers and her therapists gave me the words and the confidence to speak up when I need to.
To listen when I need to.
To cause holy h*ll when I need to.
When it comes to my words, I know I would not have them if I didn’t have Bridget.
I would not have been a panel member of Care to The People, joined the school committee or for that matter the PTA.
I know without Bridget I would not have had the confidence to audition for Listen to Your Mother, gone to BlogHer or had a conversation with a person I had only met online. I would not continue using my blog to spread my truth, my ideas and my thoughts.
I sometimes feel bad for my husband David. I am not the girl he met 20 years ago. I am sure at times, he wishes I was the timid, docile girl he first took to a Jimmy Buffet concert.
I know he is proud of my accomplishments. What I have learned in finding my voice is that it doesn’t matter if my husband, my family or my friends are proud of me.
It matters what I think of me.
When I began I thought it would center on Bridget, on living with a child who kept us, and the medical establishment, guessing. Like all things, the blog grew to include our family. Most of us are more than one thing. Today, my blog contains sisterly love, life, laughs and tears, and challenges from others sharing struggles. Undiagnosed but okay…started as a blog about raising a child with special needs. Like life, it evolved.
The most important thing my blog has taught me is having a village is what you need to get through life.
I hope you find your village here, I know I did.