November 29, 2019

The Price of our Silence.

I am a singer, an actor, a writer, a stand-up comic.

When it came time to do a healing meditation on the throat chakra, I was ready. I was certain this would be the easiest of all the chakra healing I was doing in a class I was taking. After all, using my voice was my life’s work.

What happened rocked my world. As I envisioned my throat opening, listening to the beautiful words, I started to gag. Tears welled in my eyes, and I began to shake violently.

I have always had an exaggerated gag reflex. Dentists have been trying to work around it since I was a young girl. It has always been humiliating, choking at odd moments. At times, I literally choked on my own words. Only my own words, not the many lines I executed on stage, or the lyrics to songs I performed, but speaking my own truth. Giving a speech has always been torture. Trying to express simple emotions with my own words most often brought tears to my eyes and the feeling of choking. I’ve learned over the years to pause, blink, breathe through my nose, and continue. It’s an art, really, to get through it somewhat gracefully, one I’ve learned out of necessity.

The reason for this became all too clear to me during that meditation. Memories came flooding in. I was sitting in a courtroom, at the age of seven, as a kind, concerned judge asked me questions.

“Don’t tell him anything, not even your name,” I had been told.

I sat, silent, pretending, as I had promised, that I was in the library, where everyone had to be quiet. I didn’t even whisper, no matter what the judge asked me. I wanted so badly to talk to him, because he was nice, and I wanted him to like me. I wanted him to know that my favorite color was purple and that yes, I had a dog and her name was Lady, and that I was seven years old, and that yes, those things had happened to me. Yes, they happened. But as long as I didn’t speak, nobody could be blamed. I didn’t understand at the time the harm of even telling him my name, but I do now.

My complete silence was the price I had to pay, to get the chocolate ice cream, the Barbie doll, and to let my abuser go free.

The judge accepted my silence, and I accepted my rewards for the silence. I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful of the chocolate ice cream that had been my favorite. The Barbie doll was beautiful, though, and I treasured her for years. She smiled silently with me everywhere I went, the perfect companion.

It was that story I told the concerned classmates and instructors in my class that day of healing the throat chakra. Hot tears ran down my face, and my entire body pulsed with rage. I saw in my mind’s eye the judge, the police officer who’d told me, before the day in court, that nobody would ever hurt me again, the attorney who had encouraged my silence, and those who had benefited the most from it. I spoke my truth to the entire room, and many of them cried for me.

All my life I’d been certain that my story, my truth, didn’t matter—and that my silence was best for everyone. I was bathed in love and acceptance from an entire group of relative strangers, who at that moment I felt closer to than I had to most people in my life.

I couldn’t sit still. An assistant to the instructor asked me if I wanted to pound on some pillows. Nothing so “ladylike” would do for me at that moment, even though I’d conducted myself with gentle restraint my entire life. I told her I wanted to kick things. She led me outside into the cool air of an early winter. As we walked, she told me that she wasn’t so sure it was the best laid out plan, as all there was around to kick were big rocks and stones. I found a big pile of dirt next to a canal and began kicking it with all my might, feeling the rage course through my entire being. She encouraged me to shout, or scream, or curse. I did all of those, as well as some deep moans, and I shouted my name to the judge, and my rage, not only to those who’d hurt me, but to those who’d accepted and encouraged my silence, who’d made it clear that my pain and my truth didn’t matter, and in fact that I didn’t matter.

Later that day, I went to my best friend’s home, and we drank wine, laughed, spoke many truths, and I felt freer than I have my whole life.

I had never realized before the price that I paid for that silence. I guess sometimes you gotta kick the sh*t out of some dirt and speak your truth to those who would listen and respond, with compassion, with belief, with absolute assurance that you matter.

Whatever your truth is, speak it. It matters, and so do you. I see you. I believe you. I honor you.


Read 22 Comments and Reply

Read 22 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Karen Sipes  |  Contribution: 1,135

author: Karen Sipes

Image: Alexander Krivitskiy/Unsplash

Editor: Naomi Boshari

Relephant Reads:

See relevant Elephant Video