I’m reading Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers The Human Story Changes by Elizabeth Lesser and loving it—it says so well and clearly many of the things I’ve been teaching: the way women’s voices and stories have been silenced; the way we’ve been gaslit for centuries; and the ways, too, that our voices matter. “Women know something that the world needs now. We know it in our bones. We’ve always known it,” one of Lesser’s mentors told her, and it struck a chord in her.
It strikes a chord in me, too; my life work is to help women come out of silence, share their full stories, and shine light on what we know—the truth in all its complexity, messiness, multidimensionality, and beauty. The world needs our stories, our poems, our dreams— and the changes that our stories represent.
I’d love for you to join me for an all-new FREE series starting March 8th that will help you step into your full story and align mind, body, and spirit. It’s been a real joy seeing the breakthroughs that women have had with these methods. We already have more than 1000 people registered to join us so far, and I hope you’ll join us (men, you’re invited, too)! Just click this link to register for free.
In the spirit of sharing and of opening to our vulnerabilities, I want to tell you a bit more of my own story so you can understand why I’m so passionate about this work. (I’m sharing parts of this story publicly for the first time.)
If you’re sensitive to issues of sexual abuse and mental health, this is a trigger warning…please take care of yourself and know that you’re not alone.
I grew up in a very close nuclear family in New York City with my two parents and one younger sister. My parents both worked in publishing; they were literary, and accomplished. I had a lot of care, attention, and great opportunities, and there was much love and fun in our lives. But there was also a lot of tension (what family doesn’t have tensions?): both of my parents struggled with mental health, there was a lot of stress, my father was unfaithful. And my father’s word was the final word. So no one questioned him too much.
When I got older and began to question him in my early 20s, I was told that I was putting our entire family in danger, that my words would ruin the whole family (divorce, suicide). And so I learned consciously as a young adult to do what I must have been doing as a child: to think one thing but say something else. I didn’t want to ruin my family. I loved my parents and wanted to keep the peace.
But in my mid-thirties, when I began to remember sexual abuse in my early childhood, I needed to understand more what had happened. Only pieces of my story were clear to me. Why did I feel so scared, so silenced? I began to ask some questions.
Asking questions was off-limits. My parents got furious at me, denied that anything at all could have happened to me, said that my childhood had been perfect, and told me that I was making the story up only to hurt them.
For a while, my mother told me a story about a strange male babysitter who sat for me one night and who I ran screaming from when he came the second time. But then she retracted that: she knew me too well, she now said, to believe that anything could have happened to me.
Though I shared studies that show that parents don’t necessarily know when their children have been abused, my parents had their own story about their lives and about my childhood. Ultimately they preferred to hold onto that story instead of to have a relationship with their adult child.
For a long time, I’d lived inside their story, but I couldn’t do that anymore. Though I’d looked successful on the page, the price of not trusting my own story had been ongoing health issues, anxiety, and panic attacks. I needed to step into my own story to get healthy.
That was not easy! I had a PhD and been somewhat widely published, but what I needed to step into, trust, and give voice to my story weren’t skills or practices I’d been taught in traditional school.
How do we, women, in particular, learn to trust ourselves, to listen to the messages of our bodies, to become our own authority? How do we, unlike the ancient Greek Cassandra, not go mad? How do we, when we see the truth, get heard?
These are the tools I’m now passionate about teaching.
Walking this path of one’s own story can be challenging. I still have times when it’s really hard for me, when the loss of that first loving relationship feels like a gaping wound, when the disappointment of not being heard can feel like it knocks me over and I start to mistrust myself from the inside out again—I can’t get the right word on the page; I worry what people will think of me; I wish I were different in some way big or small. I get caught in old patterns of wanting to change the story from the outside in instead of being able to make peace with the reality of who I am, where I come from, and from there make change…
But when I get back into my own center (and this is a process that we all must do again and again), it is so rewarding. It’s how we take back our health, our spirit, and our voice.
I’d love to share these methods with you—and I’m offering a completely NEW and completely FREE set of teachings to help you come into your own authority and write your best work. We start this coming Monday, March 8th, and I’ll be sending out five teachings and practices that you will have access to for ten days and can do on your own schedule. This is for everyone, whether you have trauma in your life or not. Everyone, whether we are professional writers or beginners, long-time meditators, or novice meditators, can bring the mind and body together to step into greater alignment, courage, and voice. If you have a story inside of you, a poem, a song, an essay that wants to come out, this will help you free your voice. Click here to join us for free.
If you want to go deeper and commit to your story and voice, enrollment for my online class Align Your Story with meditation and yoga is now open. This course helps you unlock your full story and put it on the page and is for writers of all levels. The first 20 people who sign up also get a free one-on-one session with me! (Stay posted for scholarship information coming soon.)
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being part of this community of truth tellers and brave souls—women and men—who create safe places and show up for themselves and one another!
Please, as always, share this with any friends who might be interested.
PS The short version: Join me for a completely new, completely free set of teachings and practices to align mind, body and spirit and step into your full voice. We start this Monday, March 8th. Click here to try it for free.
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