Welcome to the WINGS Foundation blog! I’m very excited to be one of the WINGS bloggers. This organization has been a crucial part of my healing journey because they taught me to recognize the power of my VOICE!
The immediate physical and emotional injuries childhood sexual abuse imposes upon a victim are undeniable but have you thought about the impact on their VOICE? The child may have been threatened, too scared to speak, verbally lashed, abused by the one meant to protect them, not believed when they tried to tell, or any combination. Childhood sexual abuse impedes the child’s confidence, expressiveness, and self-recognition of the significance of their input decades after the assault.
This past January I embarked on the WINGS Speak Out! journey through my past. It was my first experience in a WINGS group and it was undeniably painful but at the same time it was absolutely liberating.
In the beginning I was hesitant to share deeply for fear that I would be rejected, judged, deemed too much, weak, crazy, dishonest…the messages of my childhood and messages frequently reinforced in adulthood, mostly from the inside. Soon I discovered that we were all feeling vulnerable as we worked to heal the wounds to our VOICEs together. WINGS offered me something that I did not have before and that is a room full of people just like me on the inside. People who understood my deepest, darkest, and most painful secrets and often shared them. People with whom I could openly share my memories without fearing disbelief and rejection.
My little tight knit group encouraged me to lay my soul out on paper from toddler to present. Four decades of abuse and its repercussions in just seven short weeks. If you are reading this blog, I am sure that I don’t have to tell you that time period was quite an emotional rollercoaster! What is critical information in the telling of my story? Ouch that hurt to cut that part out, and that part, and that part. It was like cutting out parts of my soul! In the end, each of us were proud of the years of work we had done on paper and in our hearts in just seven weeks.
At the Speak Out! event, we all nervously anticipated telling our stories in a theater to a group of people, many unknown to us. I was uncomfortable sharing my story with one man or stranger…what was I thinking?! Using my VOICE? We sat together and one by one told our stories. The freedom and purpose I felt when I was done speaking made the journey worth every moment. Individuals approached me and thanked me (thanked me?!) for telling my story. My story finally had value and impact instead of eating a hole in my soul and in my heart.
I came to WINGS for help putting my story together and to practice sharing it with a crowd. I had a dream to support others who were walking a journey in life similar to my own. I thought I was pretty healed, and in many ways I was, but not in the area of my VOICE. I left Speak Out! with more healing and self-confidence than I have received in hours of therapy.
I’m continuing to find ways to use my voice – through blogging, sharing my story with others, speaking at conferences and more. Now that I’ve reclaimed my VOICE, I’m never giving it back.