I attended a luncheon last Fall 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.
At the end of the luncheon, the facilitator asked us to write on a sticky note what we wanted to do for other survivors after what we had learned that day. I wrote, I want to find the volume of my voice.
Last month I was invited to be on a television show where a panel of women would be asking me questions about living with PTSD. At the end of the segment, there would be call-in opportunities for people with questions. I have no aspirations to be on television, nor did I feel comfortable being interviewed by a group and take call-in questions. I’m confident in my message, but something about that opportunity had me feeling uncomfortable. I love speaking to groups, and love answering questions when my talk is finished, but this somehow felt different to me. I can’t really put it into words, but the tone of the program and how I would be using my “voice” seemed different. So I turned it down. I felt really bad, but I had to listen to my gut.
Next week, I’m invited to a guest on a radio show with another woman, whom I deeply respect. At first, the host asked us to talk about the topic of domestic abuse, which I have no experience with, so I turned it down. The host changed the topic. I’m going to talk about overcoming traumatic experiences, the other guest will talk about preventing sexual assault. At the end of the taping, a high school student will ask us three questions. This felt really good to me. This is how I want to use my voice, and the bonus of a high school student asking questions is icing on the cake. The only thing I was a bit worried about, is that they are also going to be taping it as a video and putting it on I-tunes as a podcast. My first panic was, I don’t wear makeup, I’ll look like a ghost! But the host reassured me that all will be fine, so I’m trying really, really hard to let go of that!
In February, I was invited to be a panel member of a self-care, self-love summit. Wow, I was surprised and flattered to be asked to be part of this because this is a huge issue for me. I’m not a professional coach or therapist whose job it is to teach clients how to have self-love. I’m the person who struggles with it. It will give the summit a different perspective, and although that makes me a bit nervous, it is a wonderful opportunity that feels really good to me.
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, 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, to sometimes being front and center.
I have learned a lot this past year. I’ve learned 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 don’t have aspirations to be a big voice in the world of mental health support/advocacy. I 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.
I believe I found the volume of my voice. I don’t know if it 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