The Transformation Goddess Summer Writing series includes divine feminine articles written by women who agreed to share their personal journey of reclaiming their voices and learning to speak their truth, in the 3rd Annual Goddess Talk Sessions Global Event next month. If you enjoy Bryna’s contribution, you are welcome to join us this fall to get to know more about this wise and brilliant woman.
Growing up, I always had my nose in a book. Even at six, eight, or ten years old, I would rush through my daily activities in anticipation of the time when I could curl up with my book-of-the-moment. Rather than watch television or play Super Mario Brothers on our Nintendo (yes, I’m part of that generation), I lost myself in the worlds of Middle Earth, Osten Ard, Narnia, and Ansalon. As long as I was reading, I was able to step away from the chaos of life with three siblings and parents in separation.
I rarely talked about my feelings, even as a child. I had the sense that I needed to be strong, always, because someone needed to keep it together. I never leaned on my friends, or confided in my relatives; when I did, I felt like they inevitably let me down. They had no idea what to do with a Bryna who wasn’t strong, capable, and well-adjusted.
As I transitioned into adolescence, the words that were my ticket out of real life became my therapy as well. I journaled, penned angsty odes to whatever unsuspecting boy I’d set my sights on that month, and occasionally tried my hand at a fantasy story. I poured my truth, in all its myriad shapes, onto the pages of notebook after notebook, writing and rewriting my favorite lines until I felt like they fully captured the essence of my soul.
You’d think this would have been good training for speaking my truth in the world. Not so. In fact, as I got older, it got even harder to share my deepest feelings with those close to me. I perfected the nonchalant “I’m fine” response, and retreated from pretty much everyone. After several relationships with young men who had, to put it mildly, problems, I got married at the ripe old age of twenty-two to a man twelve years my senior.
Like me, my first husband was an introvert, a musician, and an artist. Like me, he had trouble speaking his truth or admitting vulnerability. Unlike me, he had a drinking problem―and a lifetime’s worth of anger to fling at anyone who came within arms’ reach.
For ten years, my truth went underground. I stopped journaling and writing songs. I told myself that I was afraid that he might read what I’d written and lash out―but really, I was afraid of the truth that might come out if I put pen to paper. I knew I was making myself small. I just didn’t know how to be any other way.
I bottled everything up inside, telling myself that we were okay, that I was okay. After all, I was still here. I wasn’t getting beat up―at least, not physically. I was even creating a successful business as a nonfiction writer and editor. And I still had my books to help me escape.
Then, I discovered yoga.
A weekly class at the local gym turned into a near-daily practice at a nearby studio. All of a sudden, my body started to unravel. The knots melted out of my neck, the tension left my jaw … and the feelings I’d kept on lockdown started bubbling up. I started putting words to my emotions again, if only in my head.
A couple of years into my practice, I took the next step, and got certified as a yoga instructor. I suddenly found myself standing at the front of a class full of yogis and yoginis, with a mandate to lead them into their own vulnerable spaces and give them the tools to work there successfully. It was both terrifying and exhilarating.
They say you teach what you need to learn―and it’s true. I found that my teaching naturally gravitated toward creating a safe space for each student to witness his or her own truth and accept what was really happening in the moment. I found myself speaking more honestly and openly, both on and off the mat.
At home, this wasn’t a good thing. In fact, the more in touch with my truth I became, the more violent my husband’s verbal and physical outbursts became. But once you know something, you can’t un-know it. There was no going back.
And then, the day came when I spoke the words I’d been keeping inside for a long, long time: “It is not okay for you to treat me this way. I’m leaving.”
It was like I could feel a dam breaking inside me. All the words I’d held back, all the emotions I’d buried, all came crashing out of my mouth. It was ugly. It was painful. And it was real.
I rediscovered journaling in the wake of my divorce. I reconnected with the joy of my pen flowing over paper without conscious thought, as if it were directly connected to my soul. And, unlike when I was younger, I found that once I hashed out all the details of my thoughts and feelings on paper, it was far easier to speak them aloud.
For me, writing is a process of filtration. It takes that muddy, confused water from behind the dam and distills it into something clear and pure―something I can offer up to the people in my life as a gift, without shame. Water. Truth. These things aren’t debatable; they simply are. I can’t control whether people are afraid of the water, or they prefer their water made tastier by sweet, artificial syrups. That’s not my business. My only job is to make the water as clear as possible, so that you can see me through it. You can do with it what you like.
Writing also helps me control my reactivity. Truth, for me, rarely lives inside emotion; instead, it’s what lives behind my emotions. My feelings and reactions are the gatekeepers, not the treasure. Putting them on paper helps me process them in a drama-free way so that when I do speak aloud, I can stand firmly in my conviction, and not let my fear push me back into the shadows of “I’m fine,” or, “it’s nothing.”
After months of pouring out my repressed soul onto the pages of my notebooks, I was finally experiencing clarity around who I was, where I was, and how I’d ended up there. More, I was starting to see who I could become, if I allowed myself to get real and stand in my truth.
It was at this crossroads that my now-husband Matthew appeared in my life, and challenged me to speak from my heart and soul like never before.
You see, Matthew is one of those exotic, rare creatures that I used to think existed only in fairy tales: a truly happy person. Matthew’s joy is his truth, and anything that conflicts with that gets shown the door.
Sounds great, right? Well, try living with it when you’re not truly happy, and still struggling to access and voice your own truth. It’s hell.
Suddenly, I couldn’t hide. I was expected to say what I meant, and be honest and vulnerable all the time. (Let me tell you, no one can spot bullshit faster than a person who doesn’t bullshit.) It was like a crash course in truth-speaking. I swear, I nearly broke up with him five times that first year. (I actually did break up with him once. He calls it the Three Dark Days.)
Along the way, I turned once again to my journals for support. Before I had one of “those talks” with Matthew, I wrote about how I felt, and searched for the kernel of truth amidst the muck of my fears, false beliefs, blame, and accusations. Then, I would blurt that out in our conversation, whatever it looked like, and let him respond. When I took the time to do this, our conversations were not only more loving, but more productive.
After a year or so of feeling constantly raw, speaking authentically got easier. After three years, it felt almost natural. Now, I feel so deeply connected to my truth that I don’t have to struggle (much) when it wants to come out. I just have to let the reactive words swirl around onto a page until they settle, like so much dust, and I can sweep them away to uncover the heart of the matter.
So, take it from a woman who knows: if you’re looking for a pathway to your truth, take out your journal, grab a pen, and let it flow. What comes out may not always be pretty, but it will be real―and it will be a gift to the people in your world.
Bryna Haynes is a Word Alchemist, the President and founder of The Heart of Writing, the chief editor for Inspired Living Publishing, and the best-selling author of the multiple-award-winning book, The Art of Inspiration: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Powerful, Effective Inspirational and Personal Development Books. Her mission is to empower writers to move through their perceived limitations, harness the power of their authentic voices and messages, and create world-changing written works. Learn more about Bryna at www.TheHeartofWriting.com. Be sure to listen to Bryna’s journey to reclaim her voice in the 3rd Annual Goddess Talk Sessions starting September 18th.
Post image created by Chevanon – Freepik.com
If you enjoyed this post you may want to explore more brave and powerful Summer writing Series messages for your goddess journey.
The Goddess Talk Sessions Global Event Begins this Monday!