Sometimes, The Best Advocate Is Yourself
Advocate ad as defined in the image, “one who pleads the cause of another.”
In my life, I have taken on many advocacy roles, and the list almost grows daily. From health, I advocate for patients with their care, and their rights in the work place and in the rest of the world. This started around the time that I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and the first hurdle that I had to jump in my care. I considered it unacceptable, and knew that if it was happening to me, it was happening to others. Buy my advocacy in health did not stop with the world of cancer, but has expanded to cardiac, long term survivors of cancer, geriatric care, and simply, the right to receive medical care when it is needed.
With having two daughters adopted from China, I became an advocate for families seeking and dealing with adoption issues, not just internationally, but domestically as well. Because of having children, I took an interest in public education and fighting to make sure my daughters got the best education possible and supporting those trusted to educate my daughters. Which of course led to my first and only political run, for local office, school board. And of course I began paying more attention to politics on the larger level. But to be honest, the lessons I learned at the local level leave me feeling hopeless at the higher levels.
Getting back to children, well, not just children, I have always been an advocate fighting bullying in any environment. Sadly, society still does not recognize by ignoring the bullying in schools, those bullies grow up to be adult bullies. There are plenty of programs to deal with this, but unless they are used or enforced, they are paper tigers.
And then there is Parental Alienation. This is the blatant act of causing mental and emotional harm to a child, by interfering with the relationship between a child and another parent, usually through divorce. Talking negatively in front of a child or even as “matter of fact”, causing the child to miss opportunities to spend time with a parent, manipulating the child to develop a negative concept of the other parent, are just some of the examples of Parental Alienation. And I will not beat around the bush with this, PA is child abuse. Children have the right to love their parents.
But there is more to being an advocate than just having a cause to fight for. There is more than just defending someone who just does not know where to start to find the answers to start their fight. Perhaps, they just do not have the strength to express their needs. Sometimes we have to be that voice. And in many cases, it is as easy as just showing someone “where” to begin, or even guide them along their course.
There are also times, when even the slightest effort, without realizing it, you can become an advocate. Just being there for someone, as an “ear”, makes you an advocate because you are showing someone, who may feel alone, that you care. And that act alone makes more of a difference than doing nothing at all.
No matter the cause I advocate for, it has made me who I am. And it helps me to deal with the many things that I face. I have no quit in me when I know that something, or someone is completely wrong. And I have paid a price over the years with employers, friends, and family because of my decision not to pick battles. Even the smallest issue to me, if you let enough of them go, it leads to a big issue. And I have learned, if you are dealing with the smaller issues alone, when you face the bigger ones, you will still be alone, and that fight is even more difficult, because the other side is not alone.
You will never be taken more serious, when you, yourself, advocate for yourself. After all, you know more about your particular situation than anyone else. Sure, the help of another advocate is great, but your own words will be the loudest and get your heard.