Having our Voices Muted
2023 is my year of speaking up and sharing my heart.
I'm so determined, as I have some very important things to say.
But there has been something stopping me. When I attempt to share my views my mind has often gone blank and my throat has closed over, leaving me stumbling and unable to speak.
I’ve tracked this situation back to a moment from when I was only 11 years old.
Back then I was bubbling over with enthusiasm to speak about the passion of my heart at the time, which was my gentle pony named Cindy. I won a speech competition sharing my heart about my dear pony and how I cared for her.
I spoke in front of a packed hall of parents, teachers and kids. Go me!
But then came the kicker... The principal who had judged the competition and announced me as the winner, got me up on stage. He shook my hand, congratulated me and everyone clapped. But suddenly he launched into a tirade of judgement and ridicule. He publicly attacked me on stage about how I spoke and how terrible he thought my voice sounded!
I was utterly confused and shut down when it happened. That was a lot of confusing energy for such a small child to receive.
What I heard from the principal was: “Even though you’ve won, you’re actually crap and the voice you use to speak with such enthusiasm every day sounds terribly bad and ugly!” Woah! At the time when I received these harsh words - I felt myself shrinking and shrinking. Hardly believing this could be happening... but unfortunately internally I was accepting his view as truth anyway.
I then poured the shame and judgement I received from him on myself and my speaking voice every day without even realizing it. It made me feel so very small and the consequence was that I shut my voice down.
Unfortunately I was not the only person who was treated poorly by this principal. A short time later, I was the only witness seeing him in an act of physical violence towards another student. This experience left me completely overwhelmed and utterly silent! I did not advocate for that child. I had internalized a lack of safety around speaking up from my earlier experience which left me unable to speak up and advocate for others when something wrong was happening.
I have had such deep sorrow in my heart. As an adult who is now a true advocate for children, I felt a lot of shame towards myself which continued to cause the loop of judgement and shame and fogginess to perpetuate.
These pivotal childhood experiences can have such a huge effect on our lives. They traumatize us and cause a continued loop of past pain to continue unconsciously. This unconsciously affects our behavior in puzzling ways and can hold us in place, cycling unknowingly forever.
Until we recognize it, or someone helps us recognize it, we cannot simply decide that enough is enough until we dive into our personal healing.
The sticky residue of shame and judgement can feel like wading through neck deep mud.
The anger around not receiving advocacy, looped into shame and judgement towards myself as I saw how I had repeated a similar behavior by not speaking up when I saw the other student being hurt.
The time came for forgiveness – This is the way out of the fog of shame.
I’ve realized that when we judge something in another, we also judge it in ourselves (Whether we have done this thing ourselves or not.) My experience is an extreme example, but as I gently witnessed all involved in this sticky mess, including myself, with softness, compassion and forgiveness, I felt the fog of shame lifting.
When we drop the sword of judgement toward ourselves and others and instead gaze into the shame with soft and compassionate eyes - our heart energy begins to light up the shame and we become free.
This experience has affected me for so long, and until now I have not been resourced enough to work through it and come out the other side.
Often when we find ourselves repeating unfavorable behaviors over and over there will be a challenging experience from our past which is lying just below the surface leading to a seemingly never-ending forced repeat. Our subconscious can blind us to the cause of our frustrating repeating behavior.
Receiving support from a compassionate and intuitive friend, professional or family member who can go with us as we dive beneath the surface to excavate what actually happened and view it all with soft eyes and heart can really help these seemingly stuck behaviors to shift for good!
I am so thankful that I have found my voice and know that it’s time to share what’s in my heart. I am passionate about sharing how we can lift the fog of our shame and trusting my words can reach those who will benefit from my experience.
The twisted nature of shame and judgement reveals that we are all truly connected. By shining the light of compassion and forgiveness into situations which seem too complex and heavy to ever heal we release ourselves and others from the fog of shame which has enveloped us and held us down for so long. I know this powerful healing work can reveal a light filled space of possibility for us to truly be who we are in this world.