Silence is easy to keep. I find silence something comforting, an old friend. Once I stop talking, picking up my voice and pushing it through my lips or fingertips is that much more difficult. I find silence calming, familiar, customary. Every few weeks I meet with a group of folks who have survived some form of trauma, be it physical, sexual or emotional. We sit at tables in a public space and drink teas and smoothies and try to figure one another out; whether we’re trustworthy confidants, whether we’ve got some alternative agenda for being here, whether we’re too damaged to consider friendly and/or perhaps whether we can find someone who is understanding enough to connect with in spite of ourselves. At these groups I’m reminded of every single disability-related event I’ve ever attended. We gather, we share quips and quirks, we write off oddballs and sometimes find connections. But we come broken in part, broken by a society that tells us we don’t fit.
If I step back from this blog for long enough I find it next to impossible to return. What have I to offer but the same abuse, disregard and dehumanization day after day? I continue to run in to bus drivers who refuse service, cab drivers who tell me what’s my job, mall security guards who lie and try to escort me off the premises, store managers who tell me other customers deserve a dog-free eating experience and I should take my food (that I just paid for) elsewhere. But if I don’t share these stories, if we who experience the daily trauma of living don’t share these stories with the world, will the world and our hearts change? Or will I simply fall back into the customary silence I’ve grown to love and cherish for so many years?
So….I come back here on a beautiful autumn afternoon to attempt to break this comfortable silence, to share with you what it’s been like the past few weeks to continue to walk in a world that doesn’t see me, that sees a puppy dog and possibly a loud-mouthed inconvenience. Because my silence is hurting me, and maybe it’ll end up causing hurt to someone else too. There are so many ways our bodies and hearts experience trauma. May we find spaces to be loud about them, talk about them and find safe healing.