Finding My Voice

The last few weeks I’ve been on edge, sitting on a cliff and holding my breath. Hyper conscious of every inhale and and shake, every nerve in my body. I’ve felt more happy than I thought possible and more sadness than I have before. It’s trying, feeling two polar opposite emotions at the same time.

I’ve started going to therapy. Which is great and awful simultaneously. Great because I’ve been able to untangle a lot of fine pieces of yarn in my thinking, but awful because I’m a whirlwind of emotions as I piece together my life and remember more and more things I’d like to forget.

Psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the way humans process grief in five stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Now I did study Psychology in High School and College, but never truly caught on to the whole five stages. Mostly because, as I am now realizing, I opted to go straight for depression, not purposely. But I was trapped within events, and social pressures, and personal pressure, and people pleasing. I didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I didn’t want to be a burden, which left me alone to carry all of my burdens.

Therapy has encouraged and pushed me to find my way back to those very first stages of grief, and I’ve realized in my efforts to protect other people from what I was feeling, it only encouraged mindsets of isolation, fear and anxiety. My life had becoming a breeding ground for every negative, unresolved emotion and I didn’t even realize it.

I’ve tried in these last few weeks to begin taking steps to properly heal. And in the process I’ve encountered more disdain from loved ones. I’m not one for speaking up for myself, but for the first time in my life I tried, and I was immediately shut down. I’ve shame spiraling through loneliness, anger and confusion. It was as if as soon as I made a step to free myself from grief, I was met by a massive do not enter sign. This has taken a toll on me emotionally, and if you ask my boyfriend he’d tell you that I’m a glass bottle, ready to burst and shatter at annnyyyy moment. He says it’s a good thing, I’m not so sure.

Despite what has happened, I’ve decided to go ahead with being brave anyway. For years I have compromised my joy for the sake of protecting those that I love, in an effort to keep the peace and not “rock the boat”. And that’s great and all but it actually isn’t. For people who have experienced abuse and trauma, the most important thing to hold on to in that process is their voice. And I’ve allowed my voice to be the voice of reason for everyone but my self. I made concessions to others’ fears and experiences as if I had none of my own. That’s has suffocated me, and additionally suffocated my relationships with people.

The hardest thing to do, when you’re facing great loss or grief, is to find your voice. And I’ve seen the quotes about not letting anyone steal my voice and yadda yadda And I thought I had done that. But instead I was screaming behind a wall that formed as a 2,000 foot enclosure. Inside the wall are spiders and bugs and hungry lions and bears, eager to eat me alive. While outside there’s banners and streamers and balloons everywhere. Funnel cakes and cotton candy and all the things that welcome people to stop and stare and take and be merry. Unbeknownst to the visitors, there’s a side door for anyone and everyone to enter in, if only they’d look past the candy and music and decorations. The music and laughter is so loud that no one would have a clue that’s there’s a screaming girl just behind that giant wall, limbs being mauled by everything that wishes to destroy her.

Therapy is giving me a voice. It is taking the wall down, brick by brick. And with each brick that is removed, the guttural screams are finally reaching the outside of that wall, and like an earthquake, the cries are shaking down the streamers, causing the ground to rumble and shake, and brick by brick the wall does fall.

We all have a voice. Some a whisper, some a roar.

If you can roar, roar for others.

If you can only whisper, keep trying.

Every roar started small.

M.L. Shanahan

Finding My Voice

Pretty Injuries

Here’s a whole fluster cuck of feelings but it’s honest.

I don’t have pretty injuries.

This might sound coarse and unkind but I genuinely don’t mean for it to be. But I don’t. I don’t have injuries that come in pretty packages and bows, like “my boyfriend of two weeks broke up with me” sort of injury. Or the “I broke my leg and gunna need a cast for 12 weeks” sort of injury. I don’t have any pretty injuries. The ones you can talk about without feeling too vulnerable and exposed. But I wish that I did.

Yesterday I had a flashback. And this specific one hasn’t happened for years. You can guess how surprised I was when I went from being happy and calm to one of my most epic meltdowns in a year. I’ll spare you the details of what I saw but not of what I felt. I felt it coming and I had about 5 seconds to recognize what was happening before everything went down hill. Thankfully my guy is kind and patient and understands but honestly it was like my brain reverted to 18 year old me and I didn’t even recognize myself. I wanted to throw up and I wanted to run.

I think the hardest part about trauma is the endless silence that comes with it. It’s not something you bring up over coffee, and it’s heart wrenching to want to just tell someone how you’re feeling when it’s a morbid topic of conversation. It also feels pretty awful when you finally thought you were ok, only to realize that you actually aren’t. Yesterday, for the first time in three years it happened again. And I don’t feel like myself, and I don’t recognize myself. I feel a little on edge and more than a little depressed.

These are the parts of me I’d love to be able to explain away. I’d love to not have anything to do with them and to be honest I’d be stoked if having my memory wiped was an option. But it’s not. It’s not a pretty injury. It’s not table conversation. It doesn’t have the advocacy the sexual harassment. It makes most people uncomfortable and it’s a lonely, invisible injury. And I don’t understand it and today I hate it and I have wished for more than one moment that I was anyone but me, anywhere but here, feeling anything but this.

Pretty Injuries

Psalm 34:18

Christmas time is the time of year where everyone goes about, so busy with their shopping and their things and their events. So busy with being busy. Everyone has a dab of happiness that has motivated that ‘pep in their step’. Everyone is looking forward to spending time with their families and then ringing in the new year. But really, not everyone feels that way. And everyone would include me.

This year has been the most challenging for me. Moving out, switching jobs often, trying to find some consistency. I’ve been sick since September, loosing my voice twice and fracturing my foot. This has been the hardest year since I got out of the hospital. Thoughts that I haven’t had in such a long time coming back to me for years. There’s such a brokenness and depravity that I have felt. A hopelessness that I am unable to put words to. Running to and fro looking for ways to sate my hungry, broken heart. The pull of the need of people around me. Lack in finances in every way possible. Disappointment.

I have hated this year with every fiber of my being. So when the time of ‘merry and bright’ comes around I honestly feel dark and gloomy. Because it’s been a dark and gloomy year. I don’t know how to let people in on my darkness. I don’t know how to ask for help, let alone receive it. I know it sounds like I’m complaining but it’s been a year of silence, of pain unspoken. Asking the Lord for a reprieve because I am physically incapable of moving forward, of setting any dreams or goals. The future is hazy and blurry and I cannot see. I’m more aware of my mistakes and my flaws and my shortcoming than anything else. Maybe I’ve taken on more than I can realistically handle. Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew or maybe I just went the wrong way. As a result i timidly await the Lords punishment for all of my mistakes and all of my flaws, even though I know that’s not His heart but that’s my experience.

This is the time of year where people just want to be held. Where they want to be affirmed and loved. They want to be around people who love them and encourage and appreciate them. As I sit in an empty, I attempt to call my spirit a little bit higher, out of the slimy dark pit I’ve been in, out of the places of brokenness and bareness that I have been living in. Not because it’s Christmas, but because I’m desperate to breathe again, to see and sing again. To smell the air, and allow the breeze to kiss my skin. Because 2016 has been so long and so relentless that I don’t think I can go any lower.

Psalm 34:18  ADONAI is near those with broken hearts; he saves those whose spirit is crushed.


Psalm 34:18