I spent the morning responding to comment after comment from women who have read my article “An Open Letter to the ones who have never been assaulted.” The article was published 8 days ago and has been viewed 15,719 times by people from places I’ve never been. My husband has made it his daily mission to provide a visual so I can grasp how many people this is. Each morning he reports the name of a town with an equivalent population. So far, the towns have all been small coastal villages. That is comforting to me.
The words were written for myself. I shared them for my daughter and for my future granddaughters. Never did I expect that I was sharing them for women I have never met, women as close as South Carolina and as far away as South Africa and Australia. Women thanking me. Thanking me for sharing my story. Thanking me for speaking up, for being brave.
“Your timing is ideal. I needed this right now.”
“Courageous and touching. Thank you.”
“I’m not brave enough to speak up but it helps to know I’m not alone.”
“Thank you for sharing your story…our story.”
Women sharing. Voices joining. My eyes soak up their words. Their message makes it’s way into my mind, through my heart, and one by one passes back out as droplets from my eyes onto the keyboard. Connection, kindred spirits across the miles connecting through the written word. Seeking solace in knowing we are not alone. Gathering strength from each other in order to face and stand down that which has silenced us. We are stronger together. Our combined energy, a force to be reckoned with.
For me, writing the article was cathartic. During the process I began to feel an inner shift, an ease, a confidence, a relief. I felt a need to place my story out into the world in a way that was more real, more tangible than the spoken word. I wrote for myself. What I didn’t realize is that I also wrote for my Self, my inner being coaxing me along, leading me closer and closer to others who shared my story.
“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it isn’t strong enough.” Advice from a young man with an old soul made me pause and reflect. What is my Why? It’s the reason I do what I do, to pay bills. Some days, just to pay the water bill. My Why now expands beyond basic needs to include tuition, vacation, life insurance, and savings plans. All noble desires centered around family but never has any of it made me cry. At times it makes me anxious, disappointed, often frustrated, but I don’t believe it’s ever made me cry.
So today, I observe the eagerness with which I prepare my coffee and settle in for my morning routine. With a physical desire felt deep in my belly, I anticipate what I might read when I open the comments section. The stories, a thread connecting souls across time and space. Energy flowing. Strength growing. Whispers amplified when spoken through the megaphone of solidarity and understanding. Brave women reaching out with shaky hands to touch others to be assured and to reassure.
This is the Why that makes me cry.
Tears of understanding + Tears of connection = Tears of Joy