The year that was – That’s how I will look back and reflect on my year of being 32. This was the year I discovered that I could use my voice to actually affect change – I was at an age where I was considered an “Adult” in our Italian culture, even though I had been married for 9 years, had two children and brought a house!
Growing up I was told never to voice any injustice (which naturally was difficult for me) – I remember at the tender age of 7 yelling at my Uncle for accosting the family dog – and being told off for being disrespectful (go figure?).
Women and Girls often shy away from conflict because we are taught that “it’s not our place” or “opinions are too emotional” – Well 2019 was the year of me knocking down barriers and sharing my emotions – because as the family “Golden Girl” I couldn’t and wouldn’t take it anymore, quite simply, I was done.
The issue with this was – my family wasn’t ready for me to change – and – they certainly weren’t ready for the onslaught of conflict that made them address the way women were being treated in our family.
The first conflict arose when we were holidaying in Italy with our family – I entered a family home greeted everyone and then was approached by the head of the house and slapped across the face. Yep. Slapped. Right across the face – in front of my two little girls – who have never seen their mother assaulted – because their father is a gentleman. All of this was due to the fact that I had not “greeted” him first. (Protocol is the way of the old world).
It was when I saw the looks on my 7 and 5 year olds face that it hit me (quite literally) that I had to say something. This behaviour was not ok, and it didn’t matter that he was older than me, a family member or that we were in his house. This was absolutely- unequivocally – unacceptable behaviour. So I popped the girls behind and in a firm voice, held up my hand and said NO! The room stopped… And you could actually hear a pin drop to the floor. There was a lot of fussing, followed by “He was joking” but it had dawned on me that I had, in that moment, become an adult and I would be damned if I let anyone walk all over me in front of my girls. (Strong Women breed strong women).
There was a fall out and the relationship has never recovered however, in that instance a fire was lit within me and I changed.
Following that was when I was approached on the same holiday and told by another male family member that everything that was wrong with me was my children.
Again – that wasn’t ok – and even though I didn’t have an audience at that time, and he didn’t physically assault me – I made sure he knew his behaviour and dominance was not OK.
What I have found though, on reflection with all these encounters, that it’s mainly the male point of view and behaviour that I really struggled with and which in turn, always turned to conflict.
I was brought up by a nurturing mother and loving father, so when I am presented with male dominance or gruff – it naturally triggers me and it was interesting to me the way that other women in our family- who weren’t as “Woke” to my new awakening, had instead of embracing my assertive behaviour – actually condemned it or pushed it “under the rug”.
This last year shook my core beliefs and made me realise what I would stand for as a person. It brought tears and yes in this instance – this big girl did cry – she cried her heart out, but most of all I gave myself permission to engage in necessary conflict. And conflict that needed to be resolved. So thank you “age 32” you were baptism by fire, emotional growth in ways I never thought were capable and you taught me about conflict.