I was invited to and attended a luncheon this past Saturday for trauma survivors. There were ten amazing women aged 20-69 who sat together and shared (as much as we were comfortable) our experiences, talked about our healing and learned about trauma-informed leadership. Most of us didn’t know each other, and the facilitator made it a safe, respectful and comfortable environment. We each had up to three minutes at the beginning to stand up, introduce ourselves, share what we wanted about our story and talk about what we would like to bring to the survivor community in any form of advocacy.
Some of the brave women shared in some detail their traumatic story. My elevator speech is, “I’m was a victim of unimaginable abuse for the first 20 years of my life, followed by 17 years of threats to stay silent. I live with complex PTSD, and my goal is to be a voice that begins the conversation about PTSD and help end the stigma of living with an invisible illness.” I don’t ever go into detail about the abuse that happened to me. It triggers me and it may trigger others or worse they may compare their trauma to mine.
This Wednesday I’m going to talk to a book club about my book Untangled. I’m very excited to be invited and meet and talk with the women in this book club. It’s going to be an interactive evening and I’m thrilled to answer their questions. I’m also aware that I may have to gently explain that I’m not comfortable answering a question if it gets to personal. I have no problem doing that, but sometimes, I have to make sure I check myself so I’m not declining to answer a question from a place of defensiveness.
The third event I have this month is, I’m co-teaching a class on using creativity as a tool for personal growth and healing. Again, I’m thrilled to teach this class. It’s in my wheelhouse of things I love to present and I love to see participants create and explore.
As I find myself getting involved in more opportunities where I’m in a position of speaking my truth, writing honestly and openly on this blog, preparing to write another book, and trying to live a more authentic life I’m struck by the notion that I need to control the volume that I want for my voice. I literally went from hiding in the shadows 12 months ago, to sometimes being front and center.
I have learned a lot the past year. I know what I will and won’t do as far as speaking engagements, book signings, writing opportunities and advocacy work. I let myself use this past year as a learning experience and rarely turned anything or anyone down. I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities that come my way, and I’m grateful for the enormous support I’ve received.
I’m comfortable with the volume of my voice right now. I don’t have aspirations to be the biggest voice in the world of mental health support/advocacy. I do, however, feel that my low, steady volume is what suits me the best. I’m a believer that a ripple is what affects the change. I want to continue to be the ripple. I want to continue to be accessible to those who contact me through email, my blog, my facebook page, and through reading Untangled.
The facilitator at the luncheon last Saturday, asked us to write on a sticky note what we wanted to do for other survivors after what we had learned today. My answer was, the title of this post, I want to find the volume of my voice. I don’t know if the volume will change, maybe it will increase slightly, maybe not. But I know for sure, my voice will never be silenced again.
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph