I interviewed a woman recently who has suffered and suffered and suffered. Rapes, beatings, kidnappings, psychological abuse, and an attack on her life that left her with both hands amputated as she tried to protect her neck.
I did interview her, but in the beginning, I did not want to.
I did not want to engage in the painful, shaming question asked of trapped women everywhere “Why did you stay?”
I did not want to feel her pain.
I could justify these feelings – they were my ego trying to protect me. I could pretend this story wasn’t really for me, and just go about my job as a mother, a woman, a peddler of hope.
I could keep peddling rainbow dust and fairy farts and hope no one, not even me, notices the Little Voice inside I’ve been trying so hard to choke.
The voice in the darkness that reminds me, frightens me, whispers to me:
“By not letting myself engage in her pain, I’m not going to tend to my own wounds.
By not letting myself engage in her story, I’m not going to heal my own hurts.
By not letting myself engage in her demons, I’m not going to learn how to set my own demons free.”
Ah, but you see, I DON’T WANT TO!
I don’t like these kinds of stories! They make my skin crawl, my stomach ache, my face crumple into helpless, frightened sobs! I want to walk away!
And yet, I persist in thinking about her…
So, I delve a little deeper. I try and understand – Why am I still going ahead and asking this courageous woman for an interview?
What is it that I want to uncover?
What is it that I need to uncover in myself?
And that Little Voice in the dark opens her mouth again.
“S h a m e . . . ” she whispers gently.
A woman’s universal shame when all is not well in her house.
Shame that she is not treated like a queen.
Shame that she has been tricked and is stuck now in a web she’s told is her own making.
Shame that she has to hide and pretend all is well.
Shame, shame, shame that stops her asking for help.
Shame for the time I lay in bed in a holiday house, too scared to move, woken up by a woman outside, yelling with terror in her voice at the two men who were screaming at her. And when I woke my boyfriend up, he said, “Don’t get involved. It’s just a Domestic.”
They told her to fucking shut her mouth up.
She stopped yelling.
She got quieter.
She shut her fucking mouth up.
While I did nothing. I didn’t get involved.
Shame on me. Shame on me. Shame on me.
Oh, I’m good at this. It feels right to keep condemning myself.
I can continue to shame myself for not being evolved enough or enlightened enough or brave enough back then to shake off the shackles of my #don’tgetinvolved conditioning.
Or I can step up and step out, and realise that shaming myself is not helpful. I can instead take action, in whatever small way I can the next time, starting with interviewing the irrepressible Simonne Butler.
In the process, perhaps I’ll learn to forgive myself for the time I didn’t take action.
While I learn to listen to that Little Voice in the darkness – let her breath spread across my heart and clear the shame and fear and rot that is keeping me small.
She is the quiet urgings and whisperings of strength that I don’t want to choke anymore.
She is the Little Voice inside of me that feels safe to speak a little bit louder now.
And she’s right here next to me, holding my hand and lighting the way, as we travel together, deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of Becoming Involved.
Womb-Centred Leadership Coach
In 2016, after nearly 2 decades working in corporate, I created Empress Crow and Rabbit. Designed to celebrate the cycles (lunar, menstrual + seasonal) I also loved interviewing imaginative women in inspirational careers. Now, I'm a Life Coach + I support Corporate Wonder Women just like you, to explore + harness your own Womb-Centred Leadership. When a client discovers her Power Days + plays to her strengths on these days, her corporate life + home life transform. She is more productive, more inspirational, more creative + more rested. Yup. All of it.
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Photo credit: Lucy Spartalis