A Matter of Life and Death

6 Nov

I remember the first time I made a truly conscious decision to keep my mouth shut. I was standing in the kitchen with my father when I was about 16 years old. I was never a disrespectful kid yet I had said something one hundred percent truthful. My dad was under the influence of a substance and although he had never been a violent man, I took one look at his face and my intuition told me to shut up. I stood in disbelief and fear as I realized that the man who had so beautifully raised me to think critically no longer wanted to hear my thoughts. In fact, there was no tolerance for them if they differed from his.

It was one of the most painful truths of my life and it took me years and his death to fully metabolize it. It also took me years of looking up to powerful men in admiration before I realized I radiated that same power. All I had to do was learn how to access and express it.

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All of us, regardless of gender are susceptible to such an experience, yet I think there is something unique in the female experience that makes us more vulnerable to silencing our truths over time. Finding our voice again requires the arduous journey of the salmon as we make our way home.

The other day I saw someone who has known me for a long time and I said to him, “You know, I don’t know why but actualizing my creativity has been more important to me than anything else in my life. It’s been like a matter of life and death.” Later that night, reflecting on this, it hit me. Expression has been a matter of life and death. I had sensed the potential for conflict and violence in that encounter with my father and it didn’t matter whether or not it had transpired. For many women around the world, speaking up for their needs and rights leads to abuse and in some situations, death. Likewise, not using one’s gifts creates its own form of spiritual and psychological death.

Yes, love and child bearing are beautiful aspects of femininity but before all else, it was more important to me that I verbalize my truth before pursuing these. And I will devote the rest of my life to helping women and men find theirs’. But in-between time, I will be shouting my voice from the rooftops. I want my “Yes!” and my “No!” and all the vocalizations in-between.

They say when Sleeping Beauty finally wakes up, she is almost fifty years old. No matter. Nothing is better than being awake and alive.

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One Response to “A Matter of Life and Death”

  1. Kathleen Fowler Ditmore November 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Inspirational….thank you

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