I have been silent for months now. Spinning in sacred circle, spiraling further into my heart, deep fuschia ritual exploding out into dusk until night, I pray into the darkness. The blackblue night becomes me, my face pressed into my own eternity, I am star. I steer myself out as far as I can reach and there, on the edge of everything, I open my mouth and let the sky that lives within pour out. I open my mouth. Here. I can hear my real voice. Here. My voice is free. Hear. I can hear, here.
Coming into voice has been a long, slow gathering for me. My song has often been nonverbal. I am eyes and heart. I am watching and knowing. I am silence. I am safe. I have found places where words cannot touch me. But there on the precipice, on the edge of everything, I am touched. Drawn to my own song, my own desire to be, I hear me and I am touched by my need to express simply that I am here.
I have consciously worked for many years on healing everything that I can within. My promise to myself was that I didn’t have to come back if I took the opportunity to learn it all this time. I have not always liked it here on Earth. I have felt more comfortable deepdeep within or wayway out. Finding this middle ground, this living-walking the sidewalk, everyday ground, has been a radical step for me. One steeped in profound self-respect and acceptance of who I am and what I bring.
There have been many pieces I’ve had to gather, not just within myself, but tools to make the journey work. Removing judgment, seeing the largest picture, fully inhabiting my body, feeling my feelings fully and allowing them to flow, taking the responsibility that is mine, disengaging from drama, accepting what is, listening to my intuition, inner over outer authority, being in right relationship, taking action and accepting my real power to name some basics.
It’s interesting that I can make a list like that.
W O R D S
Markers that don’t come anywhere near the experience, the body feel, the heart.
The path and the practice.
I have found my ‘here-ness’ is not dependent on words. Any of them. I am here. For many years this was all I was learning. Quite simply that I belong. I am a part of everything and here, I am. No matter the words around me, used to describe me, said to me, written about me and people like me, now and forever. I am here.
As I was coming here, this is all I knew. I did not expect more. It was and is glorious to relish my here-ness and the kind of life possible when I create from this place. It is truly revolutionary! Here makes all the difference in the world. Here matters. Here, I am.
I didn’t think about it as I took each step. I didn’t consider what it meant to become fully myself, what would happen when I got here. I couldn’t care about the ramifications of my wholeness. I had to trust that it must be right. And it is.
But this is a planet of intense and oft times dense lesson. I do not exist in my wholeness somehow separate from the world that created my need to heal. But what I find over these last 10 years is that while I was coming HERE, I was developing something I didn’t expect.
It seems the more I am here, the more I can hear myself.
The more I can hear myself, the more natural it feels to speak.
So my voice has grown with my here-ness and I naturally began to seek greater and freer expression. I’ve come out more and more these last few years, and there seems to be no end in sight! Today most people know my public voice. Moving beyond just illustrating books to writing my own books, cofounding my own independent press, publishing my curriculums and opening my own online school. It feels right. But I never lose sight that all this rests on a foundation of a much deeper voice. My public voice is only audible because I have strengthened my sense of self and my here-ness.
It is from HERE that my voice and all else rises.
Like many things, it began at home. I was so near the bottom at the time, I was barely recognizable as the woman I am today. House bound with a long term illness, dependent on an abusive relationship with an ex, in general blind to the reality of my bad situation, when I became a co-parent with three other people to my first child. What could have, maybe should have proven to be my tipping point into the great abyss of nowhere-ness turned out to be the gateway to finally hearing myself and ultimately healing. Raising a baby brought me into the here and now and what’s more, it made it clear to me who I was in my relationships. Through her eyes, I could see me and I knew that I was already passing on early, nonverbal lessons of silence and submission.
Finally, during a particularly dicey experience with this ex, I found that all I could see was the baby and all I could hear was myself calling softly somewhere out on the edge,
I cannot be the person who is treated like this in front of my baby.
I didn’t know what that meant at the time, that my entire life would change because I listened to myself. I couldn’t fathom the ramifications that lay ahead and in many ways I couldn’t afford to pause for that kind of thinking. The important thing was that I could hear myself!
My real self.
My true self.
My free self.
And. I could see the baby. That’s all that mattered. The path opened and I started walking. I never stopped. I am still walking.
This week that baby began middle school. Like her, I am very different than that dicey day. I am here now. I wish that I could say something along the lines of ‘happily ever after’ and how her and I are HERE, celebrating life together as the big, strong voiced beings we are. But like many paths, this is a deep and far reaching one. A long walk with still much to learn.
Many folks didn’t know what to do with me as I became whole, as I came more into the HERE. I changed shape and no longer fit in the position I held for a lifetime. WORDS were used in every imaginable way to get me to snap back into place and return to silence. But the more I grew into my self, the stronger my voice became.
A few days ago I was informed that this child will no longer be allowed to visit me, my partner and our two year old. After years of maintaining contact through increasing restriction, silencing and often outright harassment, it has come to a close. For the first time ever, I no longer have a reason to be in contact with her three other co-parents. They have closed the door. Now unless there is a significant, unforeseeable change, I will have to wait until she finds her way back to me. It has been a heartbreaking journey. I am sad as I continue to learn. As these last vestiges of bullying and silence shake off my heart I sense something unexpected, fresh and unfamiliar. Something natural and healing gathering HERE from the deepdeep within and the wayway out.
Not power over. But a rising power. Like a song coming on. A power that longs to be shared, equally joined in song. This power belongs to everyone all the time. Here. Hear.
I sense voice.
I see that a strong free voice is a powerful thing, perhaps the most powerful thing there is! Because real voice rises from a strong sense of self, of here-ness, and once achieved it cannot be disappeared. Words can fall apart, can slip and slide off the edge, can even disintegrate if they have no substance, no truth at the core. But VOICE?! Now that’s something! Voice can last forever. Voice can sing through time and space. It can carry us across barriers to create new ways of being, whole new worlds. Voice can gather us together.
Voice is the antidote to silence. Not words. Words are useful, but not always necessary. Once we embody voice we can no longer be silenced, even when we aren’t using words. Our here-ness speaks. Presence beyond word. Hear! I am here.
And so I sing to the child I love and helped raise, with the memory that when I began loving her, I began listening to myself in a different way. This path of self-respect and acceptance opened up. I pray it serves her that I have done this work. As I sing, I am here, I reach out beyond the space that separates us physically and send her love. I create a new world. A world where one day her voice will be free to rise and rise again and be heard! I will be there waiting, listening, allways her Ma My.
This is the personal and challenging work we must do to be here, to be heard. We must begin with ourselves. If we want to be free, we must change shape. In whatever way we are submitting to power over, to being silenced, to feeling less than, we must listen to ourselves–hear those words of truth out there on the precipice. Our own voice telling us what we need to heal to feel that we belong, that we can speak freely and be heard, that we are here and we are a valuable and necessary part of all that is.
I encourage us to do this because
when we heal,
we come into voice,
and when we come into voice
we make room for our children to come into voice.
It means supporting a new way of being, free from control through fear and silence. It means a whole new world. I ask myself, what vestiges of silence or invisibility lie within me? In what ways do I not listen to myself? In what ways am I silent in the world to be safe? I want to know what silence lies within me and why. I want to understand as much as I can.
I was taught silence in a million ways as a child, by my family, my church, my school, my ancestry, my cultures, my society, nearly everything in the world around me, even sometimes my friends and chosen family, until I became silence. The power structures that exist in our world bring everyone into the experience of silence. Silence is within each of us.
But, so is voice.
I am inspired by the good people I see every day
*LGBT2SQI*POC*DISABLED PEOPLE*OLD PEOPLE*
doing the most radical thing we can do right now, rise into our own voice. We are here. I join in chorus with all of us learning through silence and sing out WE ARE HERE! Let our presence be heard. Let our children hear us, HERE. Let the nation hear our presence, until this nation is changed, until there is room for everyone to be here all the time, heard.
Open your mouth with me now, maybe out there where the stars sing songs to each other, somewhere safe and free, somewhere for a moment you can be wholly yourself, relaxed, pure you, open your perfect mouth and hear what you have to say! Find that place where you can hear yourself true.