I was nowhere to be found
Locked up so tight never making a sound
The answer stuck in my head
A thousand words always thought never said
Gonna make it clear, this is me here, gonna let it go
—Marie Wilson, Making It Up As I Go Along, 1999.
I just scheduled my next haircut and noticed we’re less than eight weeks from Rosh Hashanah. *sigh* I have really neglected my blog, my Facebook author page, my writing. And at the same time, I’ve been working full-time this past year, publishing other authors’ books.
And that’s where I was comfortable. Safe. Behind the scenes, working my magic, away from the spotlight. Sure, I had my opinions—strong ones at that—but I feared expressing them. I feared the Beat Down.
You know what I’ve learned? Decisions based on fear are rarely wise.
I went to a women’s gathering once, a few years ago, despite my very introverted tendencies. I was trying to stretch my comfort zone, which, I’m told, is a good thing. I was very self-conscious, and for anyone who knows me personally, being self-conscious means that I rarely—and barely—speak.
At the gathering, we all were to have a large group discussion about our relationship to Conservative Judaism. Some women spoke extensively; others passed. I spoke briefly about generally identifying as Conservative, but sometimes finding myself drawn to both Reform and feminist Orthodoxy.
The woman who spoke after me looked directly at me and prefaced her discussion comments with, “Without taking thirty sentences to answer…”
Okay, first? Rude. No one called her on it. I was insulted. Second, I used maybe five sentences, and I certainly wasn’t the most talkative in that discussion. And third, and saddest, I never went to another get-together with that group. There was no question her comment was directed at me. It was the Beat Down. And she won, for a while.
I refrained from blogging, or posting anything potentially controversial on Facebook, because I was expecting another Beat Down. And it’s taken me nearly forty-four years to realize that this fear is a universal one. And life’s too short to let the beaters like that woman win any more. It’s time to speak up.