Summoning Ourselves

Last week as I joined the nation in listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee a woman whom I met years ago popped into my head. She was a classmate of mine at a one-day seminar sponsored by the Op-Ed Project. The organization works to expand the range of voices in the media. They believe that Whoever tells the story, writes history.  My friend was very young, a year or two out of undergrad. She was smart and deeply thoughtful. Over the course of the day, the class learned that she was the victim of an aggressive sexual assault. The experience was consuming her. She couldn’t get beyond it. She felt as if she was treading water. Every once in a while it seemed as if she dipped below the surface. She was full of disbelief. Shattered. She hoped the seminar would teach her how to use her voice to contribute to a broader dialogue about change. She was game. But her experience gave her pause. She wondered if anyone was listening?

That is the question that I keep asking myself again and again after last week. Is anyone listening?

 

The only way I can get close to a response to this question is to consider three alternatives. It helps me parse the unfathomable possibility that thirty years after Anita Hill those of influence still are not listening.

Part of me wants to respond to this question with, “Who cares if anyone is listening. As long as we live our truth, it doesn’t matter who is listening.”  This part of me recognizes that water finds its own level.  For those unfamiliar with the metaphor, it means that people will seek out those like themselves. Through this lens, I believe that whoever really matters will hear what I have to say. This approach is active – in that I work on developing my voice – but it is also oddly passive – in that I don’t work to convert others to my point-of-view.  I say my peace. Strongly. Genuinely. Sometimes to myself.

Another part of me wants to respond to this question with fury, “What do you mean that you are not listening?” This part knows that aggregating our voices is critical if we are to change the power structures that reinforce our systemic societal ills.  This response believes that we need to agitate continuously not only to convert new listeners but to initiate long overdue changes to the unethical behaviors that permeate our social norms. Our voices need to be collective and constant.

The final response I consider as I process this question is viewed thru the lens of transition. Through this lens I see voice as true and powerful. I also see voices being ignored or shamed or dismissed. My grounding in transition helps me process both angles. You see it doesn’t matter in this response if voice is applauded or dismissed. Transitional thinking gets us to the same place. Choice.

Voice is a choice. Our choice.

  • Voice is the essence of who we are. It is an amalgam of our histories, our beliefs, our aspirations and our values. It is our truth.
  • Voice is expressed verbally and non-verbally as we engage in every situation, every circumstance, every day.
  • There is not one way to summon our voices. Voice can be loud or sparkly or silent or strong.  Voice is individual. The only requirement is that it is aligned with who you are.
  • Voice does not demand volume. When we master our voice, it does become a megaphone. In fact, strength and volume are two very different characteristics of voice.  Consider this. Our voice’s truest expression may be illustrated by sitting silently next to a grieving friend.
  • Voice requires exercise. Like our muscles, it will not retain its tone without use.

Is anyone listening to our voices?

My work in transition has helped me see this question from another perspective. Pre-transition I believed that my voice was strong. Now I see that I was only partially correct in that thinking. Over a twenty-five year corporate career, I adopted silencing mechanisms that seeped in undetected thanks to exhaustion and expectations and fear.  This seepage was incremental and invisible. It also ironically reinforced the power of those who aren’t listening.

Transition has helped me undo much of that impact. My voice now post-transition is stronger and clearer. It is still a work-in-progress. It brings me to you and to so many others. It is a source of energy and great joy.  It has a new breath and depth.

It most importantly helps me re-frame that question.

Today I hope that we all have the courage to summon our voices again and again regardless of what Senator or media outlet or dissenting opinion we encounter along the way. I hope that we remember that our voices carry the power to demand alignment between who we are and the world we live in. It will take pink hats and Op-eds and courage on the level of Dr. Blasey Ford to continue.

I may never have the answer to the question about who is listening. I’ve realized through all this that regardless of who is or isn’t, there is really only one question worthy of our attention….

Will we hear your voice amongst the fray?

 

***************************************************************************

Please join me….

Would you like to share your voice with others in transition? For those in and around Boston, please join me for a free informal discussion on all things transition. We will take the conversation in any direction you choose – triggers, emotions, barriers, and more!  We meet at the Winchester Public Library on the second Thursday of every month from 7-8:30 pm. Free coffee and refreshments are served. This is a great way to network and bring voice to your own press of discovery. Our next session is October 11th. Hope to see you there.

Stay tuned for my new podcast, Destination Unknown, starting this October. In each episode I will talk with a guest who is navigating a major life choice. Email me if you or a friend would like to join me as a guest. I’d love to add your voice to our conversation. linda@womenandtransition.com.

***************************************************************************

Copyright © 2018 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.