Cat Got Your Tongue?
When I was a young woman, I rarely spoke my mind. And when I did, my words were so far from how I really felt that one might accuse me of insincerity – even hypocrisy. I definitely let the cat have my tongue.
How did I handle pent-up feelings? I talked behind the backs of the folks about whom I had negative feelings. Then I felt bad about doing so; because I knew it was not the right way to handle difficult situations.
Who Was The Cat?
Well the cat had many names. My mother was one cat because I was simply too timid to share real feelings with her. No way was I going to risk what became known as “Edna Erle’s jaw!
There was an executive who had no leadership skills let alone skill in relationship-building. And his sidekick, an African American male who thought every white person in the company was out to get him. I didn’t dare confront either one of them. No one else did either. Fortunately that employment cat died a quick and not so pleasant death!
Then there were the several executives at our local hospital. I was recently widowed with 2 of 3 daughters still in school and a need to keep income flowing. And they knew that! So I was the new patsy-on-the-block. And a female at that!
Discovering My Voice. . .
God works in strange and mysterious ways is more than just a saying. It’s a fact. It certainly has been one in my life.
I recall that Scripture tells us God does not give us a spirit of fear. The cat that had held my tongue for too many years was fear. Fear of a person or persons; fear of loss; fear of recrimination; fear of anything that would leave me vulnerable to pain, disappointment or the death of relationship(s).
I remember it vividly. The hospital executive called me to his office. He was entertaining the highly paid rep for the hospital’s insurance company; strategizing how to avoid paying big bucks for a tragic incident.
The hospital had beautiful trees that lined the grass between curb and sidewalk. They had been there for years. For quite some time maintenance and tree specialists told leadership the trees were dead. During a wind and rain storm, one of the trees toppled onto the car of a young pregnant woman, paralyzing her from the chest down. It was the 3rd major incident in which the hospital and insurance carrier called me to the exec’s office to ask a big favor. Two times previously I acquiesced and talked a family out of legal action in exchange for a healthy settlement. This time, it would be different!
“No“, I said. “I won’t do it. This young woman and her husband and child should he or she survive, deserve every penny she gets. If you insist I talk to them, I will tell them to SUE the hospital big time!”
I firmly expected to be fired for insubordination; so I ended the cat’s life with the following. . .
“If you don’t like it, FIRE me!”
Well I didn’t get fired; the young woman won a huge settlement and gave birth to a healthy child several months later.
And I found a voice I never knew I had!
Why Does It Matter?
This post was prompted by a somewhat political article posted to my Facebook thread. The focus is on encouraging a certain population to begin speaking up because the next election will be a “street fight”. While I’m not advocating for a fight or any kind; I am strongly suggesting that it is time women raised our voices and let them be heard in as many quarters of society and culture as possible!
We have something to say; and for the most part it is important ‘stuff’ that others need to hear. We have wisdom about a broad array of topics; some of which are critical to the betterment of our homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Much of it may even be crucial at the state, national and international level. It is no longer a pipe dream that our voice be heard around the world. The advent of social media makes that a living reality.
If we are a believing woman in business, who has been in business for some time; we have experience and wisdom for younger Christian women who are just starting out in the world of commerce. It is a tough world for women, even with all the advances we’ve made. So sharing our voices with those who can most benefit is an imperative!
In this section, I asked why it matters. It matters because to die with our story inside is to rob the world of who we are and what we have that matters.
Our thoughts matter. Our words matter. Our wisdom and expertise and advice matters. There are people in our spheres of influence that need to hear our voices and hearken to what we say. Without our willingness to let the “cat that got our tongue die”; our corner of the world is a bit darker than it ought be!
The ‘Death’ of the Cat. . .
Finally, is there something in it for us? Absolutely!
Take a bit of heed from my personal experience of casting caution to the wind on behalf of maintaining personal integrity (risking loss of employment); and cast your own fear to the wind. Speak your truth in a voice loud enough to be heard by those in need of your words. And trust GOD will take care of the rest.
The ‘death’ of the cat that got our tongues, is a good thing!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Building a Community for Christian Business Women
The Neighborhood at Facebook
Affiliated Women International
AWIBoutiques at Facebook