A Shitty Epiphany

I feel more vulnerable as an adult speaking, than I did as a molested child who never spoke.

I had a shitty epiphany tonight when I realized the above.

Tonight I had an hour long drive.  In the dark.  No moon light.  No road lights.  A straight shot between there and here.  I didn’t turn on the radio.  I didn’t sing.  I thought.  And this is what I thought.

Over the years I have been empowering myself to speak-and I do.  It’s as if the gates that I had kept firmly locked as a child have been creaking open and doing so at a steady pace.  The gates were pretty massive so they have had a long way to creak open.  But with each passing year they are the gates that are opening wider to let the flood loose.

I have given myself permission to speak.  I must speak, because I can.  I am not that child trying to protect myself and I am not that child thinking others need protected from what my words would tell them.

So this speak, that I give myself permission to do, still feels odd.  It feels unnatural.  But I do it.  Thinking, again, that I must.   Because I have that right.  Yet this pervasive feeling of discomfort persists.  I speak and the end result is worry, concern, fear.   Who does it impact?  How does it impact?  Why did I say anything?

Words.

When I didn’t speak out loud my thoughts and fears, my worries and joys, my curiosities and mundane, I felt safe.  But I wrote them.  I wrote them in a manner that even now, as an adult, I can read them and know what I was talking about even when it is not obvious to the casual reader.  Not that I shared those written words with others back then.  Because, that would have been similar to speaking now wouldn’t it?  And I was not going to make myself any more vulnerable as a child.   I knew not to.

As a child I didn’t speak my truths because I didn’t trust.  As an adult I speak my words because I don’t know to not trust.  It shouldn’t matter should it?  I’m an adult.  I have the right to speak.  I should be able to speak as an adult and to deal with the consequences as an adult.

Yes.

Right.

Yet, it doesn’t seem to be so.   It is not the way of adulthood.   Though by standards set forth for adulthood we must all equally understand the rules of adulthood.  As an aside to that, I don’t know how fair or reasonable that is, when I didn’t get the memo on understanding and existing as a child.   For that matter, apparently the world didn’t either.  Only God Himself knows and understands that as a child, no matter what was happening to me then, I knew no one could doubt my value if I didn’t speak my thoughts, my fears and my embarrassment.  I refused to expose myself and take that risk.   And knowing many cannot understand that, again, I felt safe in my silence.

How do I get this world to understand?

Even when I know I am right, know that I speak the truth, I do not believe in my value to be truthful or to be right.

Though I have spent many years working hard to empower me.  That very same me creates conflicts in understanding that very empowerment.

When I speak strongly or of strength, I am at my most vulnerable.  And likely, trying to convince myself of that strength.

When I speak up, I am searching for confirmation, even when I know the truth.

When I speak loudly, I am telling myself to be quiet.

When I speak confidently, it’s a ruse, not to fool you.   But to fool myself.

Now, I am exposed.

I am vulnerable with the writing of this and yet I am again telling myself I must speak this.  I must write this.  I must share this.

I wage this war within me.   Speak!  Shut up!

Speak and expose my vulnerabilities!

Remain silent and feel safe with my thoughts, my beliefs, my truths!

I fight this battle because I believe the fight is worth it.   For me.  And for anyone else who may have this battle waging in them and not even understand it.

So I speak this truth.

I know it’s the truth.

And wish I would shut up.

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72 thoughts on “A Shitty Epiphany

  1. Ann Koplow says:

    Thank you, Colleen, for sharing this epiphany. ❤

  2. Mind Margins says:

    Your honesty is inspiring.

  3. It’s tough to open up about things in our past that are difficult to talk about and once we open up about them its difficult not to speak about them especially if it will help someone else. Don’t shut up Colleen – you are helping someone else — a lot of someone elses.

  4. Oh gosh, oh gosh, yes Colleen! I am really outspoken in my community and I’ve decided not to be apologetic about anything I say and then I just start saying forget it, I’m going to speak my mind no matter what…I then I feel bad!! It’s almost funny…but it’s not!!

  5. honestme363 says:

    Remarkable… and here I thought I was the only one to wage that war. Sincerely, thank you for sharing.

  6. russtowne says:

    May you find the courage, strength, and words to keep on speaking, Colleen. For yourself and for the world. You and your messages are blessings. Thank you for speaking your truths no matter how uncomfortable and vulnerable they make you feel. I believe they are often inspirational antidotes to what others are experiencing and feeling.

  7. Truth is light that pierces the darkness. That one line – something about speaking and being strong is when you’re the most vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, are you not the most strong? This post is courageous, inspiring and encouraging Colleen – thank you. ❤
    Diana xo

  8. Paul says:

    I agree with Diane – when you are strong that is when you are most vulnerable. Such is the nature of our existence. I think the perfect example of this is Christ’s demand from the cross: “Lord why hast Thou forsaken me?”

    It seems that our universe is designed such that we make the greatest difference when we are the strongest because it is at that point that we are on our own. When we are sad or down or unsure or unsafe, God walks with us. When we are strong and sure, He sets us free – much like a parent teaching a child to drive a bicycle, who guides with a hand while we wobble and lets go when we are self-sustaining.

    • All of this is quite in alignment with my beliefs Paul. But I never ‘feel’ strong when I speak out. I understand being vulnerable when you are strong and putting yourself out there. So maybe I need to rethink how I see this, how I ‘think’ it is.

      I do know I don’t walk this alone….

      Thank you.

      • Paul says:

        Indeed, just as Christ felt alone on the cross- at your strongest you feel most alone. For me, I can feel the strength going into a major confrontation when I now I a right and when it comes to a head – I find myself alone when I am at my strongest – and it feels most vulnerable.

  9. This really speaks to me. As a child of abuse by someone in my family who I thought I could trust, I’ve become more cynical and closed off as I’ve gotten older

    • I’m sorry to hear that you went through that MeredithWyatt1990. I hope you find your voice, or, if you choose to not speak-it is what you feel most comfortable with. (And by ‘speak’ I mean in regards to whatever it is your thoughts take you through.)

  10. […] but unfortunately I couldn’t reblog it directly. I’ve been having really big Epiphanys for years but I never thought about it really like […]

  11. I couldn’t reblog it directly so I made a post with my thoughts and linked yours in it

  12. Sue Vincent says:

    One phrase sums this up or me, Colleen, “I do not believe in my value”. That is the legacy that takes the longest to heal… if it ever truly does. Even now, near sixty, and when I am confident in what I speak… sure enough to be able to say when I don’t know… I doubt.

  13. jmgoyder says:

    I didn’t realise and now feel so terrible sorry not to have realised. Your courage is fantastic.

    • Please don’t feel sorry. As vulnerable as I feel, as worried as I ever am about speaking out….I do because of so many good reasons. Though those good reasons don’t minimize what I sometimes feel, they DO pull me forward.

      And that is worth the vulnerability. I’m hoping! 🙂

  14. ksbeth says:

    and as a person in the world, i hope you never stop talking about it, even if it will help one other child to be able to speak and not suffer in silence. i am so sorry you had to be victimized by an adult who took advantage of your vulnerability as a child and your speech now shifts that power. hugs – beth

    • Thank you Beth. It’s an interesting epiphany. It helped me have a better understanding of my angst in some situations. When I finally explained it to myself, it made sense. Maybe now I can be more aware of it and know why I feel so vulnerable. It may not truly be about what I’m saying, but just because it’s me saying it. Huge epiphany is what I should have said. Maybe.

  15. Robin says:

    You are very brave, CM, especially in your honesty.

  16. KtKat says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, and your courage to continue to speak out. I too have been waging the same war within myself. Good luck to you!

  17. Thank you for sharing this honest post.

  18. niaaeryn says:

    Thank you for speaking, when so many have not or cannnot. It is a hard epiphany I concur but I admire your courage and appreciate it.

  19. You are remarkable. Speak. It is your right.
    Part of me thinks many people do not wish to hear because this may make them uncomfortable, or, they just don’t get it. ❤ ❤ ❤

  20. dogear6 says:

    I can understand both sides. You speak the truth so it doesn’t hold you hostage and others can be helped. But you make yourself really vulnerable and that’s not fun either because people can be really bad with comments, etc.. I don’t think there’s a right answer to this.

    Well, I take that back. There is a right answer – that as an adult, you’ve chosen to live a full life and not let this destroy it. For many, they can’t or don’t. It follows them around everywhere they go and they feed it.

    My grandmother and her siblings were orphaned at a young age and treated cruelly, and it affected every single thing the rest of her life. It was wrong – clearly so – but she chose to deny herself joy and happiness so she could hang onto it. It was hard to understand as a child and hard to live with as I got older.

    You have not chosen to deny yourself joy and happiness. That’s a big difference. You’re not the woman who was abused as a child. You’re the woman who’s happily married, with grandchildren, living a good and fruitful life, who overcame a childhood where you were sexually abused by someone who got great joy out of using you. And you weren’t destroyed by it. It sucks – majorly – but your chose to have a good life despite it.

    That’s huge. Whether you chose to share it or not, you choose wisely.

    Nancy

    • Nancy, thank you.

      Thank you. This is exactly what I have been trying to do. Sometimes…it just grabs me and tries to have that old impact.

      I choose for it not to.

      • dogear6 says:

        I think that it will impact you the rest of your life, but you are practicing letting it go when it comes back. Something like that will always be there, so don’t beat yourself up over it. I’m glad you not only deal with it, but help others to do so as well.

        Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself – good job girl!

        • Thank you Nancy, I think you are right. I need to not think it will go away and never come back. Sometimes, it’s not, and you’re spot on right-sometimes it comes back….

          And I can get rid of it again. 🙂

  21. Shitty or not I’m glad you are speaking up and finding who you are and I’m sorry that you went through what you did. That shouldn’t happen to any child, but you are showing everyone whom you deal with your outer strength, which is born from the inner strength and resolve that you have had to learn over the years.

  22. reocochran says:

    Sometimes, we must say what we do, making ourselves open and vulnetable. I appreciate how you expressed this.
    Your voice has a valuable message and I am sorry if my first comment didn’t make it to you. It was much longer and may have been repetitive, Colleen.

    • I’m sorry you had to respond twice, I went to see if it was in one of the spam folders or something, it wasn’t. 😦

      Thank you for YOUR words Robin. Sometimes, I’m still learning, being vulnerable does not mean lack of strength at all. (But still feels vulnerable!!!)

      • reocochran says:

        I was not worried about spam or losingbit, but I felt the words were more true. First responses usually are, in my case,at least. I do agree by opening up you need NOT feel vulnerable but become strong for having shared what happened to you as a child (which was “shitty” and made me sad, too.) It is a great way to allow others to open up and feel they can say what happened out loud, Colleen. Hugs♡

        • Thank you Robin.

          I hope others feel safer, now. And do what they need to be okay.

          And as far as first comments, I know! It’s a cuss word or two I have let escape when I type out a comment to find it has disappeared only to know I will never recapture that brilliance again. 😉

  23. Murph says:

    Don’t shut up.

  24. Jim McKeever says:

    Someone above said it best — you don’t walk alone through this. You have your fellow writers (speakers) who are there to read and listen. Your words are powerful, Colleen. Powerful enough to help you and others get through the fear and vulnerability.

    • Thank you Jim, very much. It is through reading these comments that I realize even though we may feel alone and vulnerable, there is a tremendous amount of support. And that matters.

  25. markbialczak says:

    Don’t you shut up, MBC. You speak, and people will listen. They may not shout out in agreement or pound their fist in disagreement of even nod their up and down or shake it back and forth. But they will listen. Me, I’ll yell, yes, MBC, yes, you are right to let the doors creak open and allow yourself to say that truth.

  26. notdonner says:

    can i celebrate with you the freedom from the tyranny of fear and self-imposed silence? Speaking now helps others to gain confidence, self-respect, and strength to overcome past hurts. Thanks for sharing.

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