Why is authenticity and integrity a cornerstone of my being in relation to my self and others?
I hardly used my voice until my 30s, when I did a stint as a teacher and had to speak for 5 hours a day. It exhausted me, and I remember asking myself how people could survive the exhaustion of speaking about nothing of importance for hours a day. I would spend days, weekends, weeks not speaking to others.
I saw myself as someone who was forgettable, a wallflower, a fly on the wall, a big-boned, tall being in an invisibility cloak. I wouldn’t answer the phone; I wouldn’t say anything; I would just smile, blush and stutter. I was once asked if I was deaf and dumb. And the constant “why are you so quiet? You talk now and we’ll listen to you” – a social phobe’s worst nightmare.
I never thought of my voice as important; that my story was important; that I was important. Except I’m a writer. And because I love literature and novels that speak the truth of the interwoven-ness of all experience, all life, I felt the pressure to write literary novels. But all I could ever do was write my pain, my truth. And this felt self-indulgent, narcissistic, prideful. I was raised to be seen and not heard. And I was always a good follower of rules.
But I continued to write me, because I had no choice. Because I didn’t ever want anyone to go through the same pain I did and feel as alone as I did. Because I realised that writing me is writing every thing and every one.
Writing that and putting that out there was fucking difficult. And when I had no followers or readers 20 years ago it magnified the “who am I to write about myself; what makes me so special? My mother’s voice – what will others think?! Smile and do what you’re expected to do, be who you’re expected to be” sat heavily on my chest. My physically lighter chest is an embodiment of the healing I’ve done (and continue to do, and will continue to do until the end of this Germaine) of breathing that pressure out, in and out, in and out. Each out feeling more me than each in.
And then, through realising the that the pain of others, while on completely different journeys, is the same as mine, I learnt to accept that my voice was important. Because I am fucking special; because I am me, and no one else has gone through what I’ve gone through. Sharing my experience and journey through this life, while completely unique, opened and continues to open an infinitely vast field beyond right and wrong (Rumi) where we can be truthful and connect rather than network. This empowered me to become more truthful in my writing, and with my self.
We are all so different, and yet experience pain, joy, etc. in the same way. All of us. And using social media – which is the epitome of a world where the truth is swept under the rug, a shameful thing, a sinful thing, a sign of weakness – to tell the truth is a fucking powerful thing.
“Fragility is vulnerability stripped bare of its beauty.”
– Germaine Sanjaya Gabriel de Larch
Truth-telling is healing. Secrets poison us. Secrets: lies, omissions, masks, politeness, the pretence that we are good people when everything and everyone contains both light and shadow, the lie that is putting others before ourselves.
Using your voice is healing; not only to you, but others. Never forget that. Do you. Speak you. Tell your story. It is yours, and at the same time all of ours. So I will use my voice and continue to do so, despite the terror, the fear of judgement; I will “Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes” – Maggie Kuhn
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn