If you ask me what I came into this world to do
I will tell you:
I am here to live out loud.
It has always resonated with me. I tend toward the apologetic. The people-pleasing. The swallowing of true thoughts. And yet, I desire to live out loud.
Two days ago, I heard a radio documentary about domestic violence. It followed a young man who had been sentenced to community service and counselling following an incident in which he punched his wife. He was telling his story. And when he got to the part where he told the reporter his wife had called the police, he said that the reason was because he punched her. He exhaled audibly. "Wow," he said. "I just said that out loud."
He noted how, for years as their relationship got increasingly abusive, he allowed himself to believe that was how couples dealt with frustration and anger. His parents had. And his wife frequently let him off the hook, by apologizing for making him angry. By agreeing with him that she, too, lost her temper.
And yet, when he spoke the words out loud, all that changed. There was no more hiding the truth in the shadows.
It got me thinking about betrayal. And how frequently we don't speak the words out loud that we're thinking because we fear them being true.
When our friends note that our husbands seem to be working "a lot" and we defend their work ethic, though we feel a kick in our gut. When our parents point out that our husbands seem disengaged with the kids and we defend them, though we frequently feel alone in our parenting.
Not, of course, that workaholism and absent parenting means cheating. My point is simply that we frequently have a narrative in our heads that simply isn't the truth. And by not saying the truth out loud – by hiding it in the shadows of excuses – we lie not only to the world but more importantly to ourselves.
We see it all the time. The parent who refuses to acknowledge that her child's behaviour indicates a serious problem, dismissing it at a "phase". The woman who ignores the lump because she's sure it's "nothing." And the wife who defends her husband's emotional absence instead of saying – out loud – that he's checked out of the marriage.
I don't know what would have been different if I'd been able to say out loud what I feared. I tried. I said I didn't like the late dinners with his assistant. I pointed out that, if she was truly a loyal and valuable employee, she would want him home with his wife and kids. But I didn't say out loud what I truly feared because I also feared looking crazy, or jealous, or hysterical.
These days, I'm living life out loud. Which means talking about a whole lot of things that make me uncomfortable – from discussing STDs with my newly-teen daughter to talking stuff over with my husband.
But the alternative, hiding truth in darkness and silencing myself, is no longer an option.