SILENCE IS TIRING

SILENCE IS TIRING

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul IV

Silence Is Tiring

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.

Winston Churchill

“Brittney and her sister, Cari, shall reside within the custody of their father,” announced the judge.

“You know what that means,” my eight-year-old older sister whispered to me as she adjusted her bony bottom on the court bench. “We have to move again.” Pretending to understand, I looked at her with wide eyes and a smile that masked my pain.

But I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand the questions the judge had asked me. I didn’t understand why my mother told me to say one thing and my father told me to say another. I didn’t understand why it hurt so much to be a five-year-old.

Eventually my pain subsided. I protected myself from the hurt by keeping my feelings bottled up inside. Why express myself? I figured. My voice always seemed to be drowned out by the demanding nature of my father, the desperate cries of my sister and the constant tears of my mother. There was no room left for me. I felt separate, silent, alone and disconnected from the chaotic world that was my family.

Silence is tiring; I carried my feelings around for many years. The only means of expression I knew was through my writing, but this was a voice I kept secret.

During my freshman year in high school, my sister and I were due for yet another court hearing to determine our future custody arrangements. I was frustrated by the exhausting rituals of these custody hearings, and I decided to finally speak my mind. I wrote a letter to the judge and expressed the rage I felt for my opinion being ignored throughout the years. He listened to what I had to say and responded by saying my sister and I did not have to appear in court. This was a huge turning point for me. Not only did I have a voice, but this voice could actually effect change.

By speaking up I got what I needed. Of course, I have since learned that’s not always the case. Sometimes we speak and we aren’t heard or we aren’t given what we need. Either way I am happy to hear my voice and to no longer have to carry all my feelings inside. I’m much lighter now and far less tired.

Brittney Shepherd

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