9/14 A Time My Voice Was Silenced
“When was a time you felt welcomed in a group and then they suddenly turned their back on you? When was a time that your voice was silenced? How did that make you feel?”
A memory of me feeling extra small came back when reading this prompt that I hesitated to want to make public. I could have chosen carrying shame from school about being excluded from certain social groups, or thinking back to when I isolated myself from my family because I felt different, yet I am still coming back to an experience I had a few years ago.
After running a large estate for a few years, I stayed on staff to help the owners sell it, even though it wasn’t a property manager’s job. They made it very clear that all of the hard work I put in to build this place into a destination wedding venue and family vacation retreat did not matter in terms of me getting a cut of the sale, and my ego was truly burned. We had been a team, and a family. They pulled in a ton of capitol due to my long hours and creative advertising, and I had high hopes that if I helped in the actual sale, I would still be considered worthy of a slice of the pie. I’m not particularly motivated by money in the first place, so I really didn’t know how to handle this kind of action plan. The real estate agents, who had so desperately called on me for help, obviously did nothing in that regard, so I moved on. I quit, and the owners and I are still close friends. I learned to look past financial matters to appreciate relationships, and come to serious conclusions about what kind of boss I really wanted to work for in the future. Spoiler alert—ITS ME. I’M MY OWN BOSS, SUCKAAASSSSSSS! Jk on the sucker part.
The real stab in my heart came a year later. I had been volunteering my time to help the local chapter of the Women’s March, and my feminist pride was fierce. After getting a bunch of high quality stickers donated by a local artist and company, I walked through my town to sell them; the profits would go to businesses which assisted low income teens with birth control options. Handing them out and collecting funds to benefit a cause I believe is a human right felt damn good. That is, until, I knocked on the door of the real estate company, and the guy inside was one I had worked with to make a multimillion dollar sale. I smiled confidently and started explaining why I was there, when he quickly became uncomfortable. He had been in a meeting, presumably with a buyer or seller, who started laughing and asked, “Is that the rally with all the pink pussy hats?” He continued to make fun of the idea that a march like that mattered, and made comments I can’t remember word for word because I was so livid. The agent smiled awkwardly. Suddenly, I wasn’t standing across from a man I knew and trusted, one who had profited quite largely from my assistance. I saw a total monster. I shook my head with silent rage. These white, male, middle/upper class, older douchebags were laughing at me and my cause. I don’t know if my inner child was roaring, but I felt like silly little girl asking her daddy for some allowance. It was gross. I stuttered and choked on a response while he grabbed a few stickers and pushed me out the door. He didn’t even pay for the fucking stickers! I was so angry at being belittled that I couldn’t speak up at all. Thank god it was freezing and snowy, because the steam coming out of my ears was real. I screamed about it to my friends afterwards, and no one could talk me off the ledge. Thanks, Leo Moon and Rising.
Whenever I drive past a sign with his name on it, my blood pumps with ghosts of that past anger. Isn’t it funny, by the way, that we can say “my blood boiled,” or “my blood ran cold” and it can so directly relate to an emotion? In this instance, I experienced many temperatures in my cardiovascular system. I can only imagine what a woman of color would have felt like in that situation, and I pray that by supporting minorities of all different groups that I may begin to lessen these kind of social interaction in the future.