“Sometimes, I hear my voice. And it’s been here silent all these years.” ~ Tori Amos
For years, I betrayed my own silently screaming voice.
My voice lay buried in a Word document, a constant reminder that I was on the receiving end of being silenced. I’ve experienced the vastness of the human experience due to my empathic sensitivities that’ve felt more like a curse than a gift most of the time.
Being on the receiving end of being silenced is a position no one wants to assume. It’s painful, it’s self-betraying, dishonest, inauthentic, and puts a kink in our connections with others.
But I want to help you honor your true voice. I want to talk about un-silencing your authenticity, because your story matters. I want you to dare to be your own truth.
Even when our inner voice seems silent, she’s speaking. But we can’t share her voice—our true voice—with the world until we’re truly willing to listen to her.
“I was 23 the first time I wrote my life story. I locked myself in a bathroom, collected all the things that could possibly harm my two toddler children, and turned the shower on so I couldn’t hear them. For two days, I locked myself in a bathroom to pour my heart out onto paper. I needed to have a life outside of myself. I needed to displace outwardly how insane it all was. My life had for the first time gotten quiet enough for me to hear myself think, and it led me down a river of rocks that each shifted when I walked on them. I couldn’t see any way to solid ground. I was negligent for those two 24-hour days, but I had to write.
Writing was the first bitch in a long time that seduced my fancy, and I needed to spend time with her. I let her come because I had just read a book that defended the integrity of people who cut themselves to feel better, and I had decided my days of scratching myself bloody were over. But honestly, I needed to bleed.”
What you just read is from the beginning chapter of my book Imperfectly Sane, a self-help book disguised as a memoir, braided together by a multidimensional story about a story.
My silence eventually went from silently observing, with a stink eye, the reality of how I felt—”I see what’s really going on here, but I’ll keep pseudo-peace for you”—to an undeniable soul-scream saying, “I must free my truth, even if it kills me.”
Kill me it would, because to speak the truth in situations like these inevitably means we’re breaking the system that we feel broke us. When we break the system, we’re killing our victimhood role.
That’s where the catch-22 arises. When a bully silences us for a long time, we assume that all power is abuse, and when we assume that, we fear stepping out of our victimhood because it must mean we step into our own power, and to be in our own power must mean being a perpetrator of abuse.
We feel shame for speaking out, because we believe we’re perpetrating the same things that have been perpetrated against us.
We stay silent because we’re afraid, or because we’ve grown so apathetic that a voice would be useless. After years of oscillating between apathetic and afraid, my manuscript took a life of her own, like those books that fly off the shelf right into your hand. She insisted she be born.
I got to a dangerously pivotal point in my own soul evolution that I could either listen to myself, or I could continue to listen to them, and listening to them meant continuing to suffocate my life behind a hand-me-down pillow that wasn’t meant to be mine in the first place.
I decided I’d rather be sued than continue to be silenced, so I sent my manuscript off to my parents’ respective email addresses and told them I was doing it because I had to, and I’m sorry I’m not sorry, but I’ve gotta be free. I asked them for their blessing but didn’t require it. My father replied in agreement. I proceeded without a response from my mother, and started my own Kickstarter campaign for the book. This felt like a betrayal of all those who wanted me to stay silent, but with quivering voice and shaking hands, I spoke anyway.
And then something amazing happened. My mother, the same one who told me she’d disown me for years, showed up on my campaign contributors list.
Weep doesn’t even begin to describe what happened when I dropped to the floor at the sight of her name. I wrote Imperfectly Sane, truly, in dedication to the little girl hiding inside my mother who put herself to bed, at far too young an age, when the world got too tough to stomach—and forgot to wake herself back up. (I was a byproduct of that little girl’s sleep.)
For me, speaking my truth didn’t just set me free. It set my bullies free, and I believe it has the power to free every shackled soul who longs to know the light. My mother saw the real me after 33 years of looking at me all wrong, just so she didn’t have to look at herself—not because she wanted to see the truth, but because the truth wanted to set her free.
The book is the least important part of the story. The entire reason I wrote that book became self-evident to me in the space between standing and falling to my knees.
The truth—and the importance of sharing it.
I dared share it, and now fully believe it can set us, and all of our ancestors and predecessors, free.
If your silence is wilting you like a flower praying for rain, award yourself the permission to be heard. For our stories live on, even after death. We must remember our untold stories lie dormant in the marrow of our grandchildren by default. They’ll be the ones contending the unresolved baggage of our lives we were too scared to speak of. But the stories that are told will die in us and be reborn as something greater—because we, ourselves, author them a new ending.
We don’t have to share our stories with any other souls than our own, but if our lives resonate with the signature feeling of being silenced by a someone or a situation that feels larger than you can handle, we can choose to let that story out. Write down the absolute truth about your story as you saw it. When you’re done, read it to yourself and notice how you can see yourself in it from above, as a writer of it. If you want to, you can even write a new ending for it. If you let it, the ending you give the story can give voice to the life your soul is screaming to create.
And if we really listen, we will meet our own inner strength, which we will find is neither a perpetrator nor a victim. Our strength is the only truth this story needs.
Do not stay silent for fear, or for maintaining pseudo-peace among others. Stay silent only if that’s what your inner voice truly wants.
The truth will take care of the rest.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Image: Christopher Windus/Unsplash
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Travis May