Campaign for Vulnerability: Part 3, The World Told Me To Be Silent

I sat down to write a story about the receiving end of exclusivity and the words would not come. In pulling out one story I accidentally pulled out a flood of stories, like a magician’s never-ending handkerchief. One pulled another which pulled another. This tender scar still has too many words to share, so instead of sharing the individual stories I chose to share what the individual stories spoke to me.

I will be the first to say that I have been on the offending end of exclusivity; we are all human and imperfect and prone to cliques in our laziness. And I have no doubt that the women who hurt me in these moments did so unintentionally. Exclusivity by its very nature is unintentional. I asked myself the question, what is the opposite of being exclusive? Simply being intentional and present and vulnerable. Rachel Held Evans says, “The annoying thing about being human is that to be fully engaged with the world we must be vulnerable. And the annoying thing about being vulnerable is that sometimes it means we get hurt.”

This is my story, how I learned the difference between exclusivity and inclusiveness, and the women who taught me. This story is also how I learned to love honesty – love other’s honesty and authenticity, and love my own honesty.

James E. Faust says it more eloquently than I ever could: Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.

But I’ll also try to say it nonetheless.

The world told me to be silent

So the first time, I was.
She told me, your experience was not true, not real
What’s not real can’t hurt you

Oh, ok.

The world told me to be silent
She said, that happened to me too
I was sad and cried on the long walk home
And forgot about it
You will too

Oh, ok.

The world told me to be silent
She said, I hear you, and I’m sorry
I cannot help you, and I don’t know of anyone who can

Oh, ok.

The world told me to be silent
She said, tell me your story, I heard it was deep
We want to help you tell your story
Never mind, there’s a better fit, and it’s not your story

Oh, ok.

The world told me to be silent
All of the shes in the circle listened as we told all our stories
The shes didn’t say a thing
But their hollow glances did before they walked away
Who are you again?

The world told me to be silent
And I said no.
And I told my story to her and her and her and her and her
And when the world wouldn’t listen, these other sisters did
She said, you are hurting, I see that
She said, you are not at fault, let me cry with you
She said, let’s walk together, I don’t have the answers but walking together we’ll find them
She said, your story is valuable, you are redeemed
She said, my story is like your story, thank you for being brave with your story so I can be brave with mine

The world told us to be silent
And we said no.

I tell my story because no one else can.
I listen to my sisters’ stories because that’s what sisters do.