My former pastor used this line the day I married the man I'd divorce ten years later.
"Speak now...," he told our family and friends sitting in the wooden pew of our church. But to whom was he really saying those words, do you think? Was he really saying them to the audience, or was he giving the couple before him one last chance to be honest before making what is expected to be a lifelong commitment. Wasn't he really making the point hit home that wedding vows are more than just words and signatures on a piece of linen paper? Wedding vows involve trust and faith and honesty--to yourself and others. Wasn't he really talking to me and my former spouse?
On that day, I married a man I had an inkling I shouldn't. I'd even postponed the wedding once. But I eventually married him, anyway. I was committed. How was I supposed to know he really wasn't? I had an "inkling," that's why. I recently had a conversation with a girlfriend who'd once done the same thing. And I even have a male friend who'd done this also. Not surprisingly, not one of us are still married to those spouses.
We did a few things wrong when we said our "I do's." For one thing, we didn't listen to our gut. Each of us had more than just the pre-wedding jitters. We were each having conversations in our heads about the mates we were about to marry. Maybe those inner thoughts came early on in the relationship--most do--or maybe they came later. Maybe they even occured at the time of engagement, when I said "yes" but meant to say, "No, it's too soon. I'm not sure." No matter. Whenever that internal dialogue arrived, we chose not to listen to it. The words were the warnings that could have kept us from making a mistake, but we chose to ignore them, to push them away, to believe they involved false fear. We chose not to listen to them. I say chose with good reason. Hopefully, all three of us can look back on the decision made on our wedding days and realize the choice really was ours to make, mistake or not. We did it. We have to own it.
The second thing we did wrong was refuse to "speak now." Not only did we not listen to our gut (our natural and internal security system), but we refused to talk about it out loud. Once again, we chose not to speak out, speak up, or "speak now." We forever held our peace, as the phrase goes.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Ignoring gut instinct, not speaking out loud to someone about our fears or concerns, it's not something that only happens at weddings. It happens daily. It happens to many of us. It gets us in trouble. So, why do we do it?
We do it for several reasons, one of which involves the family of origin. We learn early in our lifetimes whether or not to pay attention to those warning signals. If you grew up in an openly peaceful atmosphere, where you were listened to and loved unconditionally, where you could express yourself without fear of being reprimanded, you probably learned to pay attention to your gut. You learned to trust what your body was telling you. You learned how to be honest with yourself and others. If, on the other hand, you grew up in a household of uncertainty and insecurity, where there was addiction, where the authority figures in your life were unhappy. If you worried about making too much noise as a child, or, worse, if you took on the job as people pleaser because you just wanted everyone to be happy, you probably learned to ignore what you really felt. You probably learned to turn off the gut instinct. You learned that you couldn't trust your feelings. They might reveal too much, and then you'd have to deal.
As a child, you don't know any of this. You don't understand it. It's not until you begin making mistakes as an adult, and the mistakes start adding up, that you have to finally begin paying attention. If you don't, you're doomed to continue failing or not living up to your potential.
As I've said many times here, it was the wake-up call that tuned me in to my gut instinct.
If I hadn't had that, if my then-husband hadn't come home to tell me about his sexual addiction, I might not ever have known I even had a tune-in problem. I would have gone on ignoring my feelings. After all, I didn't have anything to go on other than "feelings," and what are they?! So what if he wasn't a very emotional guy, if he kept his feelings to himself, if he couldn't seem to relate to me on an emotional level? So what if I felt alone when I was with him? He was still here, wasn't he? Wasn't he? I didn't understand the full significance of what I was even thinking back then, let alone the feelings. But his revelation woke something up in me that forced me to pay closer attention. It was his truth. He finally chose to be honest with me, and I could finally admit there was a problem. He stopped hiding behind his, and I could stop hiding behind mine.
To this day, I don't know why he did that. But I'm grateful. It forced me to see the error of my ways, that I'd known something was wrong all along, that I'd been right to question myself.
If you are experiencing internal dialogue that you've chosen thus far to ignore--because, maybe, you don't like the message it's suggesting--my challenge to you today is to chose to listen to it. I've said this before, but I'll say it again (because some messages are worth repeating), your gut instinct is sometimes the only way you have to know if you're on the right track...or not. If you've been questioning a decision you need to make, if you've been stalling, if you're unsure, then I urge you to pay attention to that uncertainty, especially if this uncertainty comes with headaches or muscle spasms or a skin rash. Journal about it. It could be that your mind-body connection is trying to tell you something.
Then, when you can muster up the courage, decide to be vulnerable enough to have the conversation with the person your uncertainty involves. I call this your Expressive voice--it's the E in BIKE--and the voice needs to be expressed.
Speak now. There's no better time.
All my best,