When I was a little girl I was afraid of my own voice. I was afraid that if the time came when I really needed to make myself heard, to cry out for help, no sound would come out. No help would come to the voiceless.
Silence was also comforting to me. Keeping painful things away from the spoken word meant I could cocoon myself with my memories, and seal them away from the world. Allowing them to break into the sound on my tongue, to let them live in the ears and air around me just could not be allowed to happen.
My own mother has a powerful voice. She never hesitated to express what she was feeling or thinking and encouraged me constantly to know my own worth. Still, I struggled.
While my mother lived life out loud, I lived my own in my head and I worried about how I could possibly bring the world inside myself into harmony with the world outside.
I was painfully shy and only managed to emerge from my shell when I could pull on a character and slip onto a stage, free to be as loud as that version of me could be. It was empowering. To stand on a stage, to inhabit someone else’s skin.
I could say and do and be anything I could dream of. I wanted that feeling to last forever, but always the moment I stepped into the wings, my voice became strangled and afraid and my world seemed confined to those anxieties. I lived there such a very long time. The world I would never escape.
It was a child, a heartbeat actually that pushed me to start peeling back the layers of my cocoon, to shake and spread my damp wings for the sunlight. It took motherhood to tap into a power inside myself I never knew I had.
With each child that came into my life, a fierce determination came with it. A determination to instill self love, pride, and a courage to fly as far as their dreams dared them to go.
I started running after the birth of my 5th child, just telephone pole to telephone pole, adding another each time. It was embarrassing and hard and I felt foolish. I’m a slow runner, but I never give up.
I just wanted to be able to run a few miles in the sunshine, to feel freedom and strength. What was so unattainable started to move closer to me.
I decided to force myself to aim for something so big and wide it couldn’t help but grow me in its pursuit. A half marathon. It was something I never in a million years thought I could do as I ran telephone pole to telephone pole to a 5k and then further.
I ran in silence. I ran in tears. I ran face to face with my thoughts, and I ran into and out of their path as my feet found the earth.
I ran that half marathon at the age of 46, and it was just the beginning. It was time to break free from that cocoon of silence and let my heart speak too. It was agonizing. It stretched me. It gave me the space to howl and cry out and even to scream. And then I spoke. I spoke my truth out loud. I found my own voice and with it the power to move mountains.