"When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak." Audre Lorde
My older sister tells me things I've forgotten. She has told me I never talked as a kid. When someone asked me a question, I wouldn't answer - I would look to her. Relatives thought I was excessively shy. - Maybe some even thought something was wrong with me.
I didn't speak. I was too afraid. In school.....I never talked. When a teacher asked me a question - I didn't answer. I couldn't. One teacher told me I was the saddest child she had ever seen.
I don't remember being sad. I remember being angry. Very angry. Angry at me. Angry for being stupid - for not being able to talk - for not speaking - for not standing up for myself....Angry at me because I believed my parents were right....I was stupid, worthless, garbage. I failed in school. Everything. I lived in my own world - alone - lost - holding my breath - trying hard to be invisible....to not be seen.
I kept secrets. Lost of them. Secrets that hurt me and I would find out later, that also hurt others. I didn't believe I had the right to talk. If I tried to say something...I was told I didn't make any sense.
Being silent seemed easier...It wasn't. Silence crippled me - it made me feel different. It made me angry at me. - I held everything inside....then I took it all out on myself; shooting dope, throwing up, cutting myself.
Over time I learned I need my words. I need them to express what I feel....what I need....what I want. Having my voice...being heard.... gives me a sense of freedom. But....
....it's easier for me to stand up for others than for myself. And I still wonder if what I think makes any sense. In a group I'm still afraid to say anything. When I do, the words seem far away...like they're not a part of me.
I want to speak....to tell the truth....to tell my story, to maybe make a difference in the life of someone else.
This week there was an article in the paper about a nineteen year old girl held in prison for minor acting out behaviours. She had a problem with hurting herself. The guards....the professionals decided to ignore her.....even when they watched her... in her cell, make a noose with a piece of clothing, place it around her throat and pull it tight. The officials said, Don't help her. Leave her alone. She died. Only nineteen. Why? Because someone felt her self-harm needed to be controlled and she needed to be taught a lesson.
That girl needed compassion....She needed understanding. I don't know if she was raped, molested, beaten.....Something was wrong for her to have wanted to hurt herself. And she didn't belong in prison. She hadn't hurt anyone. Just herself. Now she's dead. Why?
I remember the professionals who tried to control me. They ended up hurting me, not helping me. I want to speak. I want my voice to be heard.I want to speak out. Speak up. Make a difference.
I'm working on finding my voice and speaking up. When I'm alone in the woods....when I hear Him whisper in my heart...encouraging me....I wonder if that's why He let me live...to tell.....