Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Permission To Be Outrageous

This is the year of speaking up.

For the last fourteen years, I have pondered, questioned, studied, asked more questions, tested, questioned again. I have watched my friends in pain, and felt the same pain in myself. I have realized the consequences of "being strong for too long", and I have reached out to others for help. I have felt betrayed. I have been angry at my own ignorance, angry at deceit and manipulation, angry at the unfairness and cruelty in the world. For a while, the ground seemed to be shifting under my feet and it took all my energy not to lose my balance. Like a woman in labor, I had to focus inward and find my inner strength. I had to learn to relax, to calm myself and let the process unfold.

During the worst of that transitional time, three hugs stand out as momentous healing events. One winter Saturday at the art museum, I asked a stranger for a hug. Though she didn't know me, she wrapped me in her arms and I was reassured and comforted. At a Christmas coffee, one of my neighbors gave me a warm, enveloping hug. On an autumn night at a Starbucks near Dallas, I met an author who had changed my life and when I left to go back to my hotel, she pulled me close in a big, comforting hug. Each of these women shared with me from herself and let me draw on her courage and strength when I was in a fragile place.

I am a stronger woman now. Most days, the ground again seems firm under my feet. It is a time for looking outward again, for seeing where I fit in this world and what difference I can make. And I have given myself permission to speak out. When I was 16, I traded away that freedom. I exchanged the uninhibited expression of my feelings and my beliefs for a mess of pottage (or, in my case, a Walkman). Now that I am reclaiming that expression, my real self is growing again: impassioned, bold, and willing to take risks.

Instead of anger simmering inside, now is time for what Sue Monk Kidd calls "outrage". This year, I will be outrageous. I will not be silent. I may voice what I think, sometimes even shocking things. When I confront ignorance, cruelty, falsehood, or hypocrisy, I can challenge it--whether that means emailing a school principal or college professor, writing a blog post, or doing something more outrageous.

I will particularly challenge misogyny and patriarchy, religious or secular. I will tell the truth about my story, and share other stories that have been guideposts for me. As women, we need to stick together. To quote Sue Monk Kidd again, "When we set out on a woman's journey, we are often swimming a high and unruly sea, and we seem to know that the important thing is to swim together--to send out our vibrations, our stories, so that no one gets lost."

If those stories seem outrageous, so be it.

No comments:

Post a Comment