The Safety of Silence

Photograph of a person holding their finger to their lips

I’ve been thinking recently about the safety of silence and the cost of that safety.

I have always been an over-sharer and as a second-generation Asian American girl, this was probably the greatest of sins.

I should not take things outside of our home, of our family, of our closest circle, of our culture.

In my adult life, if I wanted to preserve what I had worked so hard for, it was better to self-censor.

If I want to keep myself and my family safe, it is better to be careful what I reveal.

This is why I am so tired.

Because at the core of myself, I have always know that freedom and liberation can only come through community.

That to fully accept myself, I have to see myself in community.

That I cannot nor should I try to solve all the things on my own.

But, I’ve been socialized that my worth is found in my independence, in serving others, in doing all the things to earn the love and respect of those around me.

I’ve been socialized to stay silent, humble and grateful.

And while I am humble and grateful, I no longer wish to be silent.

I have lived in so much fear and shame.

Fear that if you really knew who I was, you would not love me.

Fear that I am really just a disappointment.

Fear that if I said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, everything that I’ve worked so hard for would be taken away and that those I loved would suffer the horrible consequences.

Shame for choices I made to survive, that I wouldn’t hold against anyone else, but that I cannot escape from within myself.

Shame that reaching out meant showing weakness, that I could not care for myself.

Shame that my need to set boundaries might take away opportunities to ever be seen.

I feel so often that I have lost so much: my language, my culture, my connection to my family.

I feel so often that I have lost so many of the best parts of me.

The silence has been killing me.

I am slowly learning to speak my truth, that every post doesn’t need to end with a silver lining, that every truth may not be easy, that trust is hard but important.

It is slow.

And so hard.

But it is better than dying.

I am slowly reclaiming, relearning, unlearning and listening to the wisdom of my ancestors within me, taking steps to honor the beauty of a deeply scarred young person within me, finding time to embrace the most vulnerable parts of my humanity.

It is slow.

And so hard.

But it is, I know, the only path to freedom.

There will still be moments of silence, times to be silent, choices to be silent. I can embrace that too.

It is slow.

And so hard.

But I am not my sins and I am not my silence.

I am simply myself.

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