I am lying in my hammock, at the crossover when sunset still leaves a slight aura across the horizon. The breeze, running its hands across the trees, carries a chill that indicates fall will soon be sweeping down upon me. It is a last-ditch effort on my part to cling to summer during its slow demise. Lounging outside also allows me to avoid the quiet that fills the rooms inside when I am home alone, when there is no chatter or the invisible presence of another breathing soul.
Silence has taken on new dimensions after experiencing the temporary loss of my children. Whereas once I relished the hollow echo I could feel throughout my home when I was solitary, I now dread the empty space and its reminder of how it felt to be torn from two of the people I love most in the world. It is the hush of injustice that seeps into every corner.
During that nightmare, the elements of which still leech into my life, I heard from a lot of well-meaning people who were fearful that my writing, and recording of my emotional state during that experience, would create even more damage. And while I respect and give thanks that people cared enough about me to make their opinions known, my writing, and my voice via my words, was the salvation that carried me through.
One person suggested to me that I should continue to write, but hold onto it until a later time, when it might be safe. It was a valid suggestion, but not one that suited me, or my well-being. Writing and shelving such expression, for me, is akin to holding everything inside just the same as before it graces paper. It has taken me years to have enough courage to allow myself to sit in vulnerability and share my work. To regress from that space would be a blow to everything I have worked toward as an artist and human, because for me, it could feel so easy to just lapse back into a comfort where I don’t take risks, or expose my creative work to others. It is way too easy to want to feel safe and secure when vulnerability feels so incalculable.
After I began hearing from other women who contacted me privately to tell me about their own experiences with abuse, or parallel experiences with their children, it was no longer a consideration to keep my voice hidden. They bared their souls and hearts, and in some cases, showed enormous courage reaching out to someone who may have been a social media contact but was still a total stranger in life. I cried over their experiences, and felt the acute pain of all they endured, many mirroring my own. Frequently, we are told relentlessly by society that we should bury those moments that crack the façade of perfection that society constantly shoves down our throats to achieve. Many of those who reached told me that these were experiences they had never shared. It broke my heart a thousand times over to imagine how long some of the secrets had remained buried inside these beautiful, kind women because we do not foster a society where we know how to support those who are wounded.
I am so weary of the constant messages that shame should be privately endured, that we should veil moments that can tear us limb to limb, and then pretend that we can still walk upright. It is a silent suffering that eats away at the very best of us, the parts that allow others to love us and enable us to feel whole. When such moments happen, when we endure the kind of heartache that sends violent shivers through our souls that can leave behind irreversible changes and invisible scars, the last thing we should be is alone.
Often, we can be our own worst enemies, because society would rather have us pitted against each other for its own benefit. Warring women aren’t the ones that will stir the status quo and fight the forces that enable oppression. It is to the victimizer’s advantage that we remain complicit through silence. I believe in the healing power of community to grant us strength to enact change. When we can surround even one of us with loving acceptance, peeling away the layers of hurt, grief, and unmistakable degradation that may have been weathered, then we stand for all of us as a universal whole. This can only happen when we muster the audacity to make ourselves heard.
I trust in the incredible power of words, the iron clad resilience of even one voice that refuses suppression. As I told one friend when describing the fear others kept bringing to my attention about the negative impact my writing could bring: “If what I am voicing seems dangerous now and could cost me those I love, just wait to see what I write next.”
Reflections of a woman spawned in a cement cocoon...