The power of being heard can be palpably felt; it’s life force and truth that rises up through the body. Even when being heard is scary because the story you have to tell has been buried under layer upon layer of shame for so long. Or, when you have a gift to share that might bring more light into the world, using your voice in that way, too, can be scary as hell.
The first time I decided to sing publicly (outside of when I was a little one in school), it was for my husband at our wedding party that some dear friends threw for us. I was terrified even though I wanted so much to sing this song for him; to show my love in this way. I had practiced and practiced the song, something special I picked out for him, for us, for our marriage. I knew it had deep meaning for both of us. I had an amazing musician friend play the guitar for me and truly, he boosted my confidence during moments I wondered what in the heck I was doing.
That special evening came, all our friends were there, and it was time to sing this song for my beloved. I’m not sure my body has ever been more terrified. Even walking up to perform, I really thought I might die. I don’t think my legs ever stopped trembling during the entire song. A tremendous trembling….I feel confident that everyone saw my legs shaking. But somehow, I think my voice did fine.
There have been other times, not good times, I’ve had to use my voice. Those times were the times I knew there was no other choice because the truth had to be heard. For healing. Like the time my ex-mother-in-law forced me (because otherwise I may have continued to bear the secret) to tell my family that the therapist we all had gone to for a sibling’s drug and alcohol treatment program sexually abused me. As I write those words now, knowing that they will be read, and hence “heard” in a very public way, my chest tightens a bit to protect my heart. I question the sanity of speaking this truth, in this way. And I choose it; I choose myself, my truth, my well-being, still. And because this isn’t just my truth. There were others. And their lives were changed forever, too.
Something happened that changed the course of my life forever. Someone who was supposed to be safe, who held a position of power and was seen as a savior by many, including my family, completely took advantage of my trust, vulnerability, sovereignty, and power. I was young and believed I had done something wrong. I felt immense shame. What if no one believed me? What if they rejected me? What if the things I believed were true, that it was my fault, that I had done something wrong, actually was the truth?
I remember feeling dizzy, not in my body, except for the horrific pit in my stomach, and I was absolutely, 100 percent terrified. I spent years working through this wound of shame. I didn’t receive the support I needed from those I thought would provide it. This led to more wounding. Much more wounding. But that’s a story for another time. Suffice it to say, I am okay. I am fiercely strong. And it is my calling to protect the sacred in every possible way I can. I know the depth of strength that emerges from truth and vulnerability.
A few years ago, after returning from a training with my teacher, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and my soul family there, I had a dream. I was standing on a rooftop under the stars. Many people from the training were there enjoying food, laughter, and celebration under a canopy of light. Suddenly, I began to sing. Words just floated from my voice. It was a song I had never sung before. But it was a song I knew. I was hitting chords and notes that I normally could never reach. The song was so beautiful that everyone was weeping and nodding. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place because everyone there knew, in their bones knew, exactly what the words meant and it pierced their hearts, because it was their song, too. I don’t know exactly what the song was about. I do know it was about love and pain, both. In that dream, I trusted my voice. I let what wanted to come out, come out. It wasn’t about me. It was about all of us.
Today, as I hear about brave women testifying their truth in rooms where many might turn their heads, disbelieve, or refuse to believe, I feel immense sadness. I also feel fire in my veins. Their story isn’t just about them, either. It’s about all of us. We are meant to see each other’s pain and support them, hold them with compassion and understanding. That kind of “being with” brings swift grace to one who is wounded and suffering.
Whenever you can, use your voice. To speak truth. To liberate yourself and to help liberate others. To comfort. To help others rise. To help heal. Softening into the discomfort brings great power. I promise, you really are so much more than you know. I honor my truth. And I honor yours, too. May we all know healing, ease, warmth, and relief.
May you trust in your immense goodness. May you feel the mantle of blessings that rests over the truth in your heart. May it be so.