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Even if Your Voice Shakes

It’s adorable the way she tells me to go to hell. She’s angry and that’s scary for her. Regression follows. She’s not a strong and independent woman in this moment. She’s a very cute little girl who’s relying on her survival skills to face what she fears. Unfortunately, she was taught that children are to be seen and not heard. When no one listens it’s hard to have a voice.

I push her because I don’t want to talk to an eight year old child. I want to talk with a pissed off and formidable woman. Most of all I want that woman to protect and nurture the child like part of her so that she can feel more secure and confident in who she is and what she does.

Integrating the parts of ourselves and our experiences allows us to move away from seeing ourselves as broken. We all want to be made whole but many of us get stuck hating pieces of ourselves. She’s moving toward acceptance that she can’t forget and she can’t get simply over it. The only way out is through it.

That which we fear releasing gets recycled and relived. We stuff it back down over and over again. Progressively it becomes the tightness in our chest, the weight we carry on our shoulders and the heaviness of our hearts. Truth to tell, we want someone to take the burden from us and we’re angry that no one’s showing up to give us the relief we crave.

When others will not be accountable for the pain they caused us, we turn our anger inward. Stephen Wright said, “Depression is anger without enthusiasm.” We know that our truth will not be accepted/respected so we don’t speak it.

“Standing on the rooftops everybody scream your hearts out” – Lost Prophets “Rooftops”

Low level depression is the natural result of a disappointing life.  Fear dictates embracing self limiting perspectives that result in settling for less than we can have. Folks tell me, “It just isn’t in the cards for me.” This most often involves fatalistic predictions of becoming the crazy cat lady down the street and settling into a dead end job.

I mock them and say, “How convenient! Now you don’t have to face any of your fears.” Passive acceptance of chronic disappointment leaves us lowering our expectations until there’s no room for hope or dreams. We become people whom life just happens to. As children we had no better option. As adults we are free to consider that desperation should be anything but silent. It should sound more like Linkin’ Park’s “Faint” and emerge from the throat like a ball of fire.

Rhetorically we ask, “What good will it do to say anything? It won’t change anything.” That’s partially true. However, the goal is not to change others. The goal is to be true to ourselves. If we’re going to change meaningfully it is imperative that we have a voice and that we use it to express, advocate, create, and release.

“Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

We’ve all seen that quote on bumper stickers. Few of us know the back story. Maggie Kuhn was a kick ass woman, seminarian, and activist who was forced to retire from her work within the Presbyterian Church because she turned 65.

Maggie still had a lot to say and do and so she founded the Gray Panthers. She organized young and old alike. She protested war, advocated for the poor, the elderly, and the mentally ill. Her efforts resulted in meaningful reform and benefitted countless Americans of all ages.

Every one of us has a story to tell and opportunities to improve not only our own lives but also the lives of others. Maggie Kuhn kicked ass because she refused to hold anything back.

Let go. Be heard. Become something greater than you are.

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