“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” – poet Muriel Rukeyser
Have you ever felt censored? Have you ever felt like you can’t tell the truth? Like you have to pretend that everything is okay and you’re okay? Because if you tell the truth, someone will judge you, or mock you, or put you in your place. Because your truth is too real and raw for the world to handle.
I’m rethinking everything these days – my faith, my work, my writing, my roles, my relationships, my worldview. Surely I can’t be having a mid-life crisis at 34! (Because I really want to live past 68!) Sometimes I feel like I’ve been buried, just like the iris in the poem I posted recently. I’ve been buried, lifeless, deep under the earth.
It’s time to push through to the surface and find the light again.
I’ve just read the book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd. You might know Sue Monk Kidd from her novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair.
Early in the book, she writes, “I began to reflect on the ways I’d withheld my opinions, muzzled disconcerting truths, refrained from expressing my true feelings, squelched my riskier ideas, or thwarted my creativity. When I did that, I was living out the script of being the Silent Woman.”
How many times have I kept silent? How many times have I not, and then received judgement, which made me clam up again? It’s not that I want to become some opinionated b*&% who has to be right all the time. I guess I just want to be able to tell the truth without fear.
I think mothers in particular are recipients of (and I’ll admit it – givers of) judgement. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you raise your kids, there’s always someone who thinks you’re doing it wrong. If you stay home, you get bashed when you are honest about how hard it is. (I’m a SAHM in the summers – it IS hard.) If you work, you get treated like you’re neglecting your children. (Or in my case, asked, “I assume you work because you have to, not because you want to?” For the record, it is both, but am I really such a terrible person for wanting to work?) It makes us all afraid to be honest anymore.
I wonder what would happen if all the mothers in the world decided to love and support and accept each other instead of judging each other (and I’m talking to myself as much as anyone here). I wonder what would happen if the women and the men who feel like they have been kept silent could suddenly speak the truth?
I feel like something is about to happen. Maybe the earth will split open. And through that crack will emerge a tiny green shoot, which will be my soul.
Great post, Karissa. I also loved “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.” You should read her essay in “All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality,” the first anthology (2006). She says, “There is no place so awake and alive as the edge of becoming. But more than that, birthing the kind of woman who can authentically say, ‘My soul is my own,’ and then embody it in her life, her spirituality, and her community is worth the risk and hardship.” You and I have talked about those risks, and it encourages me to see you speaking out here. You are on the edge of becoming!
As I grow older I look back on myself as a young mother and wife and I want to shake the s… sugar out myself. What was so all-fired important back then means nothing today. I had my children at a very young age, I wasn’t even grown up enough to know that I could have opinions of my own. This was a great post … speaking truths is a learned wisdom and though it usually comes with a wrinkle or two, it’s a freedom I value.