Editor's Letter: Speak Up Now
Like many kids growing up, my childhood bedroom was a shifting reflection of my interests at the time—18 years worth of different phases. But, there was always a constant: a gothic painting of a little girl sleeping in a dark room, with a pitbull standing watch over her; behind the dog, a stained glass window and an urn. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, it hung in a huge ornate wood frame, which really didn’t diminish the macabre vibes of the piece.
If I’ve even remotely described it well, it should come as no surprise that I found the painting, a family heirloom that had hung in my grandmother’s room when she was a child, terrifying. Who wants to go to sleep with that hanging right above their bed?! Up until the day I left for college and moved out, that painting hung in my room and I silently hated it, every day.
Recently, I came across that painting while helping my parents do some purging and I laughed about how much I always disliked its obvious creepiness. I’m sure their response won’t surprise you, because it’s likely what you’re thinking, too: “Why didn’t you say anything?”
I hesitate to even admit it, but to be frank, it never occurred to me to say anything. At some point, that painting just… became part of my room. It seemed to be an inherent part of the room, just as much as the walls or the door were.
Of course, that’s not true and it got me thinking: What else do we accept in our lives as fixed when it doesn’t have to be? There’s so much that we get used to, or incorrectly think we deserve or have to live with. An unhappy relationship, an insubordinate employee, a crappy job, the snowblower that won’t start unless you give it a kick.
The truth is, we don’t have to live with any of that. Just as much as it was my room, it’s our lives—we get to dictate how it goes. The best part? All we have to do is say something—OK, it’s not quite that easy, but that is the first step. To want better for ourselves, we have to stop accepting the stories we tell ourselves as fact. Once we see the story for what it is—fiction—taking action tends to be so obvious, it’s no longer the tough part.
As we get into a new year, I have to ask: What has been taking up room in your life that no longer serves you? Take it from someone who needlessly tortured herself every morning with the sight of a pitbull staring at her for no good reason, you don’t need to silently suffer.