Finding My Voice

I wrote this two years ago after the Paris attacks. They really got to me; I remember my mum was staying and the morning after the attacks we went – with two year old Sam – into Birmingham on the train and it felt about the bravest thing I’ve ever done. But I was so glad I did it. And those events in Paris, they made me think about the kind of person I wanted to be, a lot. About being that person now. About giving all I can to make the world a better place and what that might actually look like in practise. And this I wrote a few days later, about what that was looking like for me in that moment. 

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So something that happened to me was that about 18 months ago I started to believe that God was talking to me (you know, not actually audibly, I’m not going to open up to that level of crazy just yet ;-)) about my voice. Like, with a capital V. 

Now something I should say at this point is that talking is not something I do, at least, not sober. I go really red when I have to speak about anything important, and look at my feet (and I mean, *really* red). I took several consecutive weeks off school to avoid making my GCSE English presentation. When I was in my early 20s, I had a period where I struggled with fear of throat cancer to a really insane extent. I really believed I had it, and that no-one was listening to me. Eventually one of wonderful the GPs I kept harassing realised that really I didn’t have anything wrong with my throat at all & referred me to someone who could help. The counsellor I then saw, a magical lady, told me that this belief I had throat cancer had to do with me feeling unable to use my voice. This is just to paint the picture that there are some really deep seated issues with my self expression. 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you – Maya Angelou

So when I started to feel like I had to find – and even worse, use – my voice, I was like, really, God, are you sure. Maybe you could be thinking of someone else. This isn’t me. I can’t do this. For a start, don’t you need some kind of status to speak up about things? Education, a career, a voluntary position – anything that brings recognised expertise in some form? Who am I? I don’t have a career, any paid work, or any recognised expertise. And the biggest thing, behind all of these, is perfection. Shouldn’t I wait until I have life all figured out before I put my head above the parapet? Isn’t there some kind of level I need to reach before I can start, I don’t know, being real? 

But then I really started to think about what I believe. And something I believe and have staked my recovery on is that I was created good and for a purpose – and that all of humanity was. And if I am created good and for a purpose, then from that perspective, it makes total sense that I am / you are worthy of being of being heard, and I have all the worthiness I need already. I am a child of God. You are a child of God. And we all have a good song to sing. And that is now – in the mess and imperfection. Because if we wait to be perfect, it never happens. 

And then – and then – I came across this lady‘s work and it really brought that alive – not to rely on other’s words or pictures all the time, but to find my own sometimes. And it is really scary. Every time I post something that is in my words, it’s terrifying. I always feel like I should be better educated – more religious/less religious – saner, and that I’m being judged. But it gets a little easier each time. And each time I take a risk I remind myself that I will do it imperfectly and that’s OK. And my life gets a little freer. It has led to activities & experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s exciting.

I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little more as a grow older – Michel de Montaigne

I’m not there. There are so many things I would want to do and still think no, I can’t. This isn’t coming from a place of having this all figured out perfectly. I have and do embarrass myself along the way, and yet I don’t learn and do it again. 

But what I really want to do is this. If my sharing can make Facebook a little more vulnerable, a little more real, a little more raw, then I will do that. 

And also I want to say this – if you have things you want to say or do, but you ever think ‘Who am I?’, know that you are not alone. And don’t listen to that voice (or if you do listen to it, as I do, then pretend like you can’t hear it). You are good. You are worthy. The song you have is worth singing. You are a child of God, and you are beautiful.

And this might not seem the most connected to what is going on in the world right now, but imagine this: A world where we never have to doubt our worthiness in speaking authentically & belonging. 

And really, we all feel so powerless against evil, but when we are our authentic selves, I really believe it liberates those around us to be their authentic selves also (you know that famous quote!). We need those good authentic songs right now. They make us powerful. At least, I hope they do. They might not seem big, or dramatic. But they change the spiritual atmosphere around us, and that can reach everywhere…

My fave moment of my fave film, when Moana kisses Ta Ka while she is still evil, allowing her to blossom back into the life-giving Tefiti she always was

P.S. My love of Brene Brown inspired me to write this… I love this lady’s work so much. Listen to her talk if you have 20 minutes! (Even if you don’t, listen to it anyway. You won’t regret it.)

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