We do nobody any favours when we choose stay silent; least of all ourselves.
I’m all too familiar with keeping quiet; swallowing my truth, and having it silently suffocate me from the inside, out.
I don’t know when I learned to do so; when I learned to fear my voice, and fear my truth. But somewhere along the way, I did.
Without realising, it became a toxic habit. I’d want to shout and scream and defend and rescue, but I wouldn’t. I would talk myself up and tell myself this was going to be the time when I spoke up; but this time quickly turned into the next one, and the next.
I let myself be groped at school. I let guys leer and whistle at me in the street. And I’ve watched as they’ve leered at other women, too. But I’m aware that my story so far is tame compared to the stories of so many other women.
I saw other kids being harassed or picked on. I witnessed colleagues being unfairly shouted at by managers at work. And I heard my mum being verbally abused over and over again at home, by my dad.
Regardless of what happened to me, or to somebody else, I would usually say nothing. Even when I was so furious that I could feel my heart thumping and I could swear my blood had reached boiling point.
The only exception was when I was intoxicated. You wouldn’t want to fuck with me then. My tongue would become unstuck; and the hose to my words would un-kink itself, and the truth would gush out. But I needed my alcohol armour. I needed a drug to help me feel brave and strong and meet my truth.
I’d like to say that at thirty years old, having done copious amounts of inner growth and transformation, I’m a changed woman. A woman who always stands rooted in her power, and speaks her truth, calmly yet firmly. When it comes to my writing, yes, I do, and it comes naturally to me. But face to face, there are still many times, when I don’t. When my truth gets stuck in my throat, and I feel so small and scared and helpless.
Because I hate confrontation, and would rather completely ignore someone than have to call them out on their bullshit. Because I think to myself, what is the damn point anyway? If they don’t already realise they’re doing something wrong, my words are not going to miraculously give them blinding clarity. Because there’s always this irritating voice in the back of my head telling me to be the bigger person, and rise above it.
And because I’ve gotten so comfortable with staying silent, that it has become my default. It’s what I always do. I promise myself that next time will be different, and then it’s always just shades of the same.
Perhaps this isn’t something that bothers other people. Maybe other people don’t even notice such things going on around them; or maybe they’re more able to let things roll off their back and fade away. They don’t feel called to speak up, so they don’t feel the shame and frustration that I do when they don’t. But I am not those people. I never have been.
And I am beginning to realise the damage I am doing by keeping quiet; to myself, and to everyone around me.
Every time I keep quiet, I affirm to myself that my thoughts, my opinions, and my beliefs do not matter. That I am not worthy of being heard.
Every time I choose not to say anything, I’m keeping myself trapped in my old, limiting story. A story where I am a passive, reserved woman who hides in her shell where it’s cosy and safe.
Every time I stay silent, I’m sending a message to every one else that it’s okay to stay silent. That it’s okay to stand by and watch things that aren’t okay happen. That it’s okay to brush things off and let things slide, because boys will be boys, or because this is just the way things are.
But it’s not okay. It’s not.
We don’t help anyone when we choose to stay silent in moments when our heart wants to roar. Not ourselves, not the people we love, and not the people we’ve never even met.
I am committed to doing better. I am committed to moving forward on my journey; and overcoming whatever it is that continues to hold me back. I am committed to pushing through my fears of being heard, and presencing whatever needs to come through me.
I don’t know how long it will take, or how many more times I will swallow my truth until I don’t.
But what I do know, is that my voice matters; so much more than I can even begin to fathom.
And so does yours. So I encourage you to walk with me; to find it, to love it, and to use it.