Finding the Volume of My Voice as a Survivor

I recently attended a luncheon for trauma survivors. There were ten amazing women aged 20-69 who sat together and shared (as much as we were comfortable) our experiences, talked about our healing and learned about trauma-informed leadership. Most of us didn’t know each other, and the facilitator made it a safe, respectful and comfortable environment. We each had up to three minutes at the beginning to stand up, introduce ourselves, share what we wanted about our story and talk about what we would like to bring to the survivor community in any form of advocacy.

At the end of the luncheon, the facilitator asked us to write on a sticky note what we wanted to do for other survivors after what we had learned that day. I wrote: “I want to find the volume of my voice.”

Last month I was invited to be on a television show where a panel of women would ask me questions about living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At the end of the segment, there would be call-in opportunities for people with questions. I have no aspirations to be on television, nor did I feel comfortable with the show’s concept as it was explained to me. I’m confident in my message, but something about that opportunity had me feeling uncomfortable. I love speaking to groups and love answering questions when my presentation is finished, but this somehow felt different to me. I can’t really put it into words, but the tone of the program and how I would be using my “voice” seemed different. So, I turned it down. I felt bad about turning down the opportunity but felt good about listening to my instincts.

I was honored to be a guest on a radio show talking about PTSD awareness and living with resilience with PTSD. One of the hosts was a high school student who asked three questions about what kids should do if they find themselves in an abusive situation, or one of their friends confides in them that they are being hurt. I was ecstatic and grateful to be part of this show. It felt productive, good and sincere. That is how I want to use my voice.

As I find myself getting involved in more opportunities, where I’m in a position of speaking my truth, writing honestly and openly on my blog and trying to live a more authentic life, I’m struck by the notion that I need to control the volume I want for my voice.

I have learned a lot this past year. I’ve learned what I will and won’t do as far as speaking engagements, book signings, writing opportunities and advocacy work. I let myself use this past year as a learning experience and rarely turned anything or anyone down. I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities that come my way, and I’m grateful for the enormous support I’ve received.

I don’t aspire to be the big, loud voice in the world of mental health support and advocacy. I feel my low, steady volume is what suits me the best. I’m a believer that a ripple is what affects the change. I want to continue to be the ripple. I want to continue to be accessible to those who contact me through email, blogging, my Facebook page and through reading my memoir.

I believe I found the volume of my voice. I don’t know if it will change; maybe it will increase slightly, maybe not. But I know for sure, my voice will never be silenced again.

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Unsplash photo via Caleb Hernandez Belmonte

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