A few months ago I posted a blog that pulled some deep pain and wounded-ness from my past into the present. It brought forward things that have not been spoken of and that many did not know. It was a hand-shaking, nerve-wracking, anxiety-founded risk of vulnerability as I pushed the publish button and spoke of depression, sadness, loneliness and reaching the end of thinking that I could hold my life together. It was an act of both freedom and defiance. Freedom from an unspoken dark past and the cloud that forms there. Defiance against the paradigm that there is more value in a happy face then in the truth and the lie that real pain should be hidden so people don’t feel uncomfortable.
Among the responses to my post was a text message that has been haunting me ever since I received it and a follow-up phone call that seems to have taken control of my confidence. The words sent were just letters travelled through invisible cellular networks, but their sharp edges lodged deep and entangled, they wrapped around and stopped me quick in my tracks making me feel guilty for sharing and guilty for a past I cannot change. Simple words armed with the power of life and death that I have let strangle my voice for the last few months.
Last Friday I sat across a tiny coffee table from a woman I look up to, am inspired by, love knowing and getting to know. We caught up a bit concerning life and transitions, relationships and changes and began talking about our shared path of penning the painful processes of life. I mentioned the incident that has seemed to gag me and she shared her own story of having to choose between believing the words of someone who asked her to be less honest and understanding how that honesty plays an important role in the stories and life she is sharing. She encouraged me and spoke beautiful words of validation that struck deep. A still, tiny voice cleared its throat.
Two days later I listened as a man I have the privilege of knowing encouraged a room full of people to “chase their bliss” and lay hold of that which is life and meaning and love to them in this world. His passion and honesty is hard to describe but immediate in experiencing when you are near him. It was a surprising and eye opening moment when I realized how badly I needed to hear what he was saying. The man he shared the stage with talked about facing and overcoming fear, making space for what is before you and adapting. The couple of hours I got to spend listening to them speak and the level of care I felt were the perfect recipe for a softened heart and much needed kick in the pants.
This morning over breakfast I told my roommate about how I had selfishly and self-consciously backed out of an opportunity to write and share over this weekend and how I had felt that the decision to let my fear get in the way was a dangerous jail-sentence waiting to happen. The chatter in my head was telling me that I didn’t have anything to say and that no one wanted to hear me and that if they knew who I really was they would feel betrayed that I had stood before them. In my head me and my words weren’t only worthless, but wounding.
Months after that text message and heart-closing phone call, I now sit here realizing that I haven’t gone back in to that vulnerable space that I was exploring and enjoying. I haven’t typed out the process, the heart, the difficulties. I haven’t shared, I haven’t given. I have shut-up and shut-down. I don’t want to be silenced any more. I don’t want to feel like my words are worthless, or worse, injuring to others. I don’t want to feel that my acceptance is conditional and that condition is pretending that everything is okay.
I shake again, now, realizing that I am at the edge and asking myself to jump back over in to the unknown. I want to go there. I have to go there. I have not been left. I have not been given up on. I have not run the well of what I can offer dry and reached the end. I have to continue to dig deep and give much or else I risk not reaching all the potential, all the bliss, all the actualization that lay before me.
Typing these words feels like a scratch of a beginning again. I know I will probably come around this mountain many more times before I really understand or overcome. I will have people tell me that they don’t agree with me, don’t remember things the same, that what I say isn’t what they wish I would say. I will have to deal with criticism and poor feedback. But, damn it, I am bound and determined to hear my own voice.