Say it.

You can be amazing, you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug. You can be the outcast, or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love. Or you can start speaking up.

Sarah Bareilles 

When my marriage started to fall apart, I told no one.  And by no one, I mean NO ONE. Not my best friends, not my sisters.  I white knuckled it by myself in the hopes that we would work things out.  I was afraid that if we did, I would not be able to look in the faces of those closest to me without seeing judgment for my decision to stay, or worse yet, pity.  I was afraid the people who loved me would hate him, and I didn’t want them to hate him. There are some bells you cannot unring, and so I stayed silent.

That kind of aloneness, that secrecy, comes at a steep price.  That COSTS.

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do, when they settle ‘neath your skin.  Kept on the inside and no sunlight, sometimes a shadow wins.  But I wonder what would happen if you…

During the worst of it, I stumbled upon a blog.  I read an essay that had gone viral on HuffPo, went back to the blog and read every post from the beginning.  Then I found the Facebook page associated with the blog.  It was a game changer.

I began “meeting” people there.  Noticing whose comments resonated with me- who said the thing I had just been about to say.  Who seemed to fighting similar battles.  I started to feel SEEN.  The more I felt like a wraith moving through my actual life, the more connected I felt to these women who I’d never met.  I would think, Oh- that Kate is wise.  Or, my goodness, when Hillary says she is praying for me, I believe her.

It was as though my soul started recognizing other souls, which is made possible when all of the STUFF that gets between us- all of those superficial metrics we use to decide who ‘our people’ are- is removed.

I started forming deep connections- all through the screen of my laptop.

Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out.

Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.

It was a community of women who were supportive, but not entrenched in my daily life.  A virtual village.  I could be honest with them about what was happening, but then not have to see them at the grocery store, or, God forbid, a PTA meeting.

It was also a time when I was not sleeping.  I was able to connect with people in the middle of the night, when the stillness and the quiet were unbearable. When all the blessed busyness of the day fell away and I was left with the sickening reality of what my life had become.  I knew I could log on, and see who was up.  I could connect.  I could speak my awful truths.  I could take the edge off the soul crushing loneliness I was feeling.

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I’ve been thinking about that time in my life a lot this past week.  About our deep desire for connection, and how more and more frequently we are seeking it with people who are not part of our everyday lives.  And that at some points, for some of us, that is a big part of the appeal.

I can’t tell you how many strangers have contacted me in the past two weeks to tell me their stories- many of whom have told few, if any, people in their “real” lives.  I think there’s a reason for that.  I think anonymous truth telling feels safer.  I think sometimes it is a way to try speaking your truth on for size.  To see how it feels, to see what reaction you get.  And writing allows you to say it exactly the way you want.  You can step away halfway through- ugly cry, barf, whatever- then come back and finish telling your story on your terms.

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy. Fallen for the fear, and done some disappearing, bowed down to the mighty… Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue… 

You know that saying, you are only as sick as your secrets? The difference between privacy and secrecy is shame, plain and simple. One of the most insidious things about sexual abuse is that many victims become convinced it is unspeakable.  The idea of telling anyone becomes unimaginable.  The cloak of shame associated with it is suffocating.

Friends, if your stories are going untold because they are drenched in shame, they will act as a cancer in your life.  And like cancer cells, they will not stay compartmentalized indefinitely.  Shames metastasizes. Shame, left unchecked, will destroy you from the inside out.

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Brene Brown says, Shame cannot survive being spoken out loud.  Shame cannot survive empathy.  You guys.  It’s TRUE.

I had a friend open up to me the other day about her abuse in childhood and adolescence.  She is just beginning to deal with it, and worries if she talks openly about it, she will lose family members.  I understand that. I do. I’ve likely lost family members as a result of all of this.  I am mourning that loss.  It’s real.

My response to her was this:

it is your job to speak your truth. what other people do with it is none of your business. and if you lose people by speaking your truth, they were never really your people.

I then asked her if there was anything her children could do or say that would cause her to stop loving them.  No, she said.

I said, well, there you go. That’s what real, unconditional love looks like.  Let THAT be the bar for what you accept for yourself.

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live.  Maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me how big your brave is….

Find a way.  Find a way to tell your story.

It is not your job to ensure that no one in your life is ever uncomfortable.  It’s just not. And certainly not at the expense of your well being. And if the people you are concerned about feel uncomfortable because they hurt you or failed to protect you, then uncomfortable is probably appropriate. Uncomfortable seems just about right to me.

And since your history of silence won’t do you any good,  did you think it would? Let your words be anything but empty.

Why don’t you tell them the truth?

You may not be ready to speak your truth to those near and dear to you. Yet. That’s okay. Only you can know when the right time is.

Please tell someone.  Talk to your pastor, get a therapist.  There are on-line support groups like RAINN that can provide you with an anonymous forum. You can go over to Momastery, the aforementioned lifesaving community. Write a letter.  Mail it.  You can email me.  Find a way, sweet friends. Be heard. Your story is important.  It matters.

So do you.

Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave.

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42 Comments on “Say it.

  1. This is so true….my story is different but when I lost our son, there was no one I felt I could talk to. No family members went through this…and they wouldn;t look me in the eye anyway and we were the first of our friends to have kids. I found a support group online and 11 years later still have a network of my people I can be REAL and BRAVE with and without judgment. Keep being Brave….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh. My. God. The song. I am …. I don’t. .. even. . Only one word is true for this post today, Laura. Gorgeous. I am. …. I can’t. … thank you.

    Like

  3. When I first said it, I pretended I was already over it. I said it, but wasn’t about to FEEL it. Three sessions and I was out of there. Eight years later, the panic attacks set it…and the drinking…and the isolating. I found another counselor. He asked me to “feel it” this time around. I wrote an entire book to process it all. And I felt it…the loss…the crazy…the “This is who I am but not who I wish I was.” And after all the work of saying and feeling and re-saying and feeling some more…I have come out the other side.

    You called them something like “horrible gifts” in your last post. They make us what we are…the good AND bad parts. But eventually the good outweighs the bad and we stop wishing things would’ve been different. And that day is such a good day.

    Thanks for writing about all of this. It is powerful work.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I think it’s the good and the HARD parts. I am so very glad you came out the other side, Matt. So very, very glad. And I’ve been thinking a lot about “over it,” because I am hearing that a lot from people who are emailing and messaging me. I don’t think “over it” exists. Was it Robert Frost who said, “The best way out is through?” I think the ONLY way out is through. We don’t get over it, we get through it. I believe that.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes…there is no “over it.” But when we feel the ghost pains we must not assume this means there hasn’t been a healing. How could it possibly never hurt again? When my girls are at same stage of life that I was…it hurts. When I see a movie like “Precious” it’s hurts, absolutely…but the pain NO LONGER DEFINES me…and that’s the difference. Pain is a part of life…and hardship a pathway to peace…always will be.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Laura, as always, you are an amazing writer and an amazing woman. Thank you so much for putting words to all of this. So many people need this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Truth telling feels so risky! My head agrees; my heart hesitates.
    You see, others are impacted by my story of pain,loss and isolation. Innocent and vulnerable people. It’s taken some time to dare to share–and before I did, I cautiously searched out those–only a few–who are “safe”. Knowing whom to trust is key.
    Thank you for urging me forward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • y’know what’s riskier? NOT telling your truth. And I hear what you are saying- our stories are often hopelessly intertwined with other people’s stories, which can be complicated. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell yours, though. xo

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I couldn’t tell my story for few years. Throughout that time, I had emotional and medical problems. Many things were left unsaid. I’m still unable to say it fully. I think I’m still angry at the fact that I had to pay for someone else’s mistake and lack of sound judgement. I had to suffer. I’m still trying to overcome my mistrust in others and I always end up building walls where I know shouldn’t be. I’m still paying the price, but at least I finally started to take back control of my life.
    Thanks for sharing your story! & sorry for rambling on 🙂

    Like

  7. Love you, my Momastery-virtual-turned-real-life-friend whose heard all my baggage (in the space of 24 hours, how exhausting) and still loves me anyway (right?) ❤
    This is a good one. (Well, they all are…but I thought I would SAY IT.)
    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Kiki Jones and commented:
    Love this. I remember when I was younger. (Teens and early 20s) how I’d say everything I felt. I had no tact or filter but at least I was being honest.

    But as I got older and wiser I saw that being too…open. In that I was saying things that made people not like me and began arguments.

    As a result I started keeping my thoughts to myself and it hasn’t been working out too well for me. I should have just added tact to my truthfulness and kept up the good work. 🙂

    Any who I’m working on that now. It’s hard but I gotta do it.

    Like

  9. Wow, I can really relate to this. Beautifully written! I too have learned the hard way how damaging it is to keep secrets and hold to hold shame inside yourself. I experienced sexual abuse as a child and later developed breast cancer. My healing process showed me that the two were intricately connected and I was led deep into my own heart, into the buried shame that I held there. Telling the truth is healing. It’s hard but it’s healing. It takes courage. A lot of it. I recently wrote a blog about this, also inspired by Sara Bareilles’ song, Brave:
    https://theheartofhealingblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/say-what-you-wanna-say/
    Thank you for being brave!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. It is scary to tell the truth, your post is encouraging and motivating.
    I was in an abusive marriage for 20 years before I found my way out emotionally, financially, physically, and legally. When I tell any parts of my story (it’s so crazy, but true)…people look at me like I’m the crazy one…they think I must be making that stuff up, No One would ever understand how crazy that life was…it was a war zone!

    Like

  11. There are so many beautiful things i want to say about this post. So authentic and truthful. Shame metastasizes- perfect. Thank you for this, for all of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. such great discussion here, laura. i agree with robert frost that the best way is THROUGH it and also what he said about love: earth is the right place for it. my personal struggle has not been about staying quiet but how to write about it while in the throes. as if i need distance to truly get it right. know what? in the throes is a very wise place. peace to you right where you are, gorgeous mama.

    Like

    • I think you can SPEAK about it when you are in the middle of it (it being anything, really) but writing- unless your intention is to just give a straight narrative? I think that’s a LOT harder. I do better with a little distance and perspective. I could not have written about my divorce when I was in the thick of it- I was too busy trying to keep my head above water. xo

      Like

  13. I love your blog, in general, and particularly this post. I completely understand the need for that connection. I was eighteen when my mother passed away. All my family babied me. They were afraid to talk about it, because they didn’t know how I’d react. I was afraid to talk to them for the same reason. So we didn’t talk about it. Instead, I started messaging random people. It was easier to talk to them than it was to talk to friends or family. I was a night owl then, and as God would have it, I met my husband through one of those random messages. It’s nice that you could touch on a subject that not a lot people voice. Thank you for doing that. Can’t wait to read more from you. Truly love your blog! If you get the chance, please check mine out as well.

    https://likebabybearsoup.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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