A woman seated on a stool with her leg outstretched

I found my peace in the deafening space between the woman I’d become and the woman I was meant to be. As I say it out loud, I realize “found” may not be the right word. I made it. 

For so long, I’d accepted someone else’s definition of peace. I was told that it was this euphoric concept, a gift granted to those who forsook conflict, remained calm—despite the fire raging within—and always, always did the right thing. Whatever that meant.

Then, if you were lucky enough, you’d get the privilege to keep it—for the sake of others, of course. The presentation was pristine, and I bought into it. I became a peacekeeper.  

I avoided conflict. I remained calm. I did what others perceived to be the right thing. I held my tongue. I let others speak over me.

I took accountability for actions that weren’t mine. I shouldered opinions that I wasn’t supposed to carry. I let things slide. I stopped standing up for myself.

I remained neutral in matters that demanded a stance. I lived in the comfort zone. I replaced my fiery voice with one that was pleasantly mild and likeable to all. I kept the peace. 

I replaced my fiery voice with one that was pleasantly mild and likeable to all. I kept the peace. 

I became a woman who did things the right way and made sure everyone around me was comfortable, heard and happy while I walked on eggshells, begged to be understood and made a home in a space of discontentment. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by the conflict that erupted within, but it shook me. It was ugly and beautiful, painful and freeing, and it forced me to sit still in a chaotic middle ground and assess if all of this was worth it.

I’ve lived in this uncomfortably enlightening space for a little more than a year now. It has taught me lessons and introduced me to versions of myself I’d never known. It showed me that the peace I had been keeping was never really mine.

In fact, the idea of peace that I’d adopted directly challenged the woman who I was at my core and hindered me from stepping into my authenticity. If I wanted to leave the space between the woman I’d become and the woman I was meant to be, I needed to release this notion of peace and redefine it for myself. 

I needed to release this notion of peace and redefine it for myself. 

It’s a work in progress, really, but the peace I’ve made bravely defies the peace I once kept. My peace is loud and complex, intuitive and imperfect. It gives me grace to make mistakes because it knows that right and wrong can be subjective.

My peace gets me in trouble—good trouble—and it always leaves me with a cocktail of fulfilling emotions that help me sleep sound at night because I love the comfort of knowing that I stand for something. My peace wholly accepts the parts of me others deem difficult. It loves the sound of my passionate, smart assy voice, even when it is the source of someone else’s discomfort.  

My peace gets me in trouble—good trouble.

I made my peace in the humbling space between seeing the woman I’d become and deciding that she wasn’t who I wanted to be. If “keeping peace” means abandoning any part of this union that I’ve formed with and for myself, then it’s not for me.

Creating that boundary isn’t selfish. I’ve learned that it’s self-love.  

Have you ever made an internal vow to “keep the peace” that stifled your voice? In what ways are conflict management and confrontation a part of making peace?

Image via Jason Barbagelott, Darling Issue No. 19 

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4 comments

  1. I couldn’t have written it better myself… thank you for distinguishing between them both! I’d love to hear more on the practical steps now, how to be an active peacemaker, what other changes did you have to make?
    – Abi

    1. Abi, thank you for that incredible feedback! I’m glad this piece resonated with you.
      I believe that the journey is, of course, different for everyone, but I’m happy to share with you here one of the biggest steps I needed to take.
      It started with building trust in myself. It was so easy for me to allow others to mold me into who they thought I should be (peacekeeper) because I didn’t trust the power of my voice nor listen to that inner knowing that we all have. Once I was able to cut through the noise of other people’s voices and turn the volume up on my own – and not only hear it, but trust what it was telling me – I was able to really show up and do the work.
      Hope this is a start, but I’d love to continue the conversation!

  2. After all these years, I am still the Peacekeeper. Congratulations on recognizing and analysing the difference between the two. Hard to do; almost impossible to admit. Love you for sharing.

    1. We so relate! And we are learning to be creators of peace and setting the environment.

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