As an adult I have come to the realization that my childhood perceived lack of control over events in my life was one of the things that adversely affected my life. I would not find my voice until perhaps in my late forties. But the first time I used my voice was in my early thirties. Up until this time, I had been under the impression basically that whatever a man wanted, he was entitled to, although there were definite limits on this. From my earliest memories I had been told by my mother that I had to do whatever my dad said and that included whatever my grandparents and great grandparents said as well as all of my aunts and uncles. Period. No argument from a small child was expected or allowed.

After moving to Houston, my husband and I took our cars in to be serviced at a local self-owned service shop. One of the men who worked there used to slide up next to me. He had on overalls and was usually in a state of more or less griminess because of all of the oil and grease they worked with all day. Surprised by his boldness the first time, disgusted by his actions on the occasions afterwards, I knew what was coming next and felt powerless to stop it from happening. He slide his arm around my back and pulled me close to him. This was usually accompanied next by a kiss on my check. My muscles  crawled underneath my skin to repel his touch, his scent, his very presence.  It made me very uncomfortable, but until I saw another young girl reject his behavior, I did not realize I had the right to say no. An incredible revelation to me that I immediately used when he approached me that day of liberation. I sidestepped his advance and avoided the unwanted hugging. I did not have to suffer the humiliation of being touched by a man I did not want touching me.

Many years later, I finally gave myself full permission to say no. I had gone to a new hair salon. When my appointment time came, the man assigned was nowhere to be seen and I waited for him longer than I would have waited for a full professor in college. Just as I was about to leave, he appeared with the excuse he did not know he had a client. After sitting me in his chair, he quizzed me what I wanted and then proceeded to tell me what he wanted to do. My words had fallen on deaf ears. He had no intension of incorporating my wishes into his transformation. When he asked if I was ready for a new change, I told him no, thanked him for his advice (although I was not taking it), got out of the chair, and walked out, but only after I had cancelled my appointment to have my hair and nails done in a couple of weeks for New Years. I was now my own person, many years in the making but finally, my own person.