As a special Valentine’s Day gift to yourself, listen to the New York Times and WBUR Modern Love Podcast series! It is full of stories of love, its messiness and sometimes resolve, its bravery and always-teachings. Recently, I got to hear my own writing voice spoken and intuited by the talented and powerful actress, Alysia Reiner, who absolutely nailed my essay, Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear– the short version of my New York Times best-selling memoir, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is, and the #2 ranked Modern Love essay in the history of the column. It has been reproduced in print all over the world...and now, thanks to Alysia and the Modern Love Podcast…it has an actual voice. Deep bows of gratitude.
Please enjoy these essays by Haven Alums as the ‘Finding Your Voice’ series continues… and you will see their minds wander in this wondering of just what it means to Find Your Voice. And set it free.
To read more from me on Voice, click here!
Essay #7: The Healing Power of Finding my Voice by Laura Probert
“I don’t want to be married anymore,” I said. Only I wasn’t sure the words had come out, out loud. The look on his face confirmed. I’d just found the voice I’d suffocated for years. I liked her and she scared me a little. Everything was about to change.
Journaling my stories of pain, desires for freedom and ideas about healing core wounds that probably started this mess was therapeutic. Sharing those stories with a small blog audience; powerful. Having the courage to write them for online sites; crazy and magnificent. My voice, once expressed was a thing to behold and one of the biggest teachers of my life.
“Are you sure?” he said. And I was. But having to speak my clarity out loud to him created a challenge I hadn’t expected. Speaking the words, my truth, my revelations, out loud to the world made them real. And today it was about as real as any of my prior days on the earth had been. “Yes, I’m sure,” I squeaked, the sound of the words not as sure as when I had written them in my journal.
We sat on the patio with the sliding door closed and I looked over my shoulder frequently to see if the kids were paying attention. Finding the courage to say the words was excruciating enough without having to wonder if the kids would understand. I could tell when we were done, spent from the emotion and energy it took to convince the other they were wrong, that telling the kids would be easier than this.
I found my journal that night and flipped to the pieces I needed to remind myself of. I read the familiar hand writing and listened to the voice of the woman on those pages who was so very sad. I called my best friend, the one who’d known us as long as there’d been an us. “You’ve never been truly happy,” she dutifully reminded me. “This has been going on for a really long time,” she continued. As I listened my heart softened slightly.
This time I was clear. I’d sorted out all the fear and doubts, daily, 750 words a day. I wrote until my hand cramped and clicked until my elbows complained. Until one of the keys on my keyboard threatened a revolt. I’d satisfied the ache in my gut and convinced myself staying would hurt the kids more.
Five mediation sessions later we were legally separated. Our life in thirty pages of tiny black and white. “It was a pleasure working with you both. This was one of the easiest situations I’ve mediated. Good luck to you,” Steve said as we walked to the elevator together.
The day I wrote and shared my first blog about being separated my voice quivered on the page. What if? What will happen when? Are you sure? They might think… My head was full and I re-read my post a hundred times to make sure it was love motivating me. When I was sure, I hit go. And in a millisecond the expression of my life in words, the voice I’d spent decades learning how to find and speak, she was alive and ready to share.
That was the healing. And everything was about to change again.
- Laura Probert
Essay #8: The Day I Heard Me by Noha Al-Kadhi
I do not sleep at night for more reasons than one.
Some reasons are more prominent than others but they all share one common thread …I quiet them.
I quiet my thoughts and summon them to sleep all day, and I quiet them from coming to life at night.
I have finally come to peace with my sleepless nights and found comfort in discovering what my thoughts need to say as I have given them the permission to breathe.
My words were trying to birth their way into the world and they have found the freedom and their welcoming passage, and this is why;
As I lay on the polished hardwood yoga studio floor on top my perfectly folded blanket I ease my back into the bolster and crisscross my legs into a knot.
I am aware of the large glass windows that overlook the endless forest of trees that wrap around the tiny lake within the vast landscape of Montana which swaddle the grounds surrounding it to create a haven for migrating geese on a rainy October evening.
I stare at the ceiling covered in a soft floating pillow pinched into dimples gazing back at me like an airy cloud breaking into a grin.
With my arms spread wide open as though I am about to embrace a loved one, I slowly close my eyes and fall comfortably still into the soothing calm of what is pure silence.
And in that peaceful moment of stillness which could have been a second, an hour or even days, I found the words to the first chapter of my book.
The words found their way out of my congested head that October evening in the yoga studio because it was their safe haven.
I lay open and vulnerable, shed of all societal and cultural restraints, liberated from judgment and critique. I lay in a circle of love, engulfed within open and kind arms and compassionate hearts who have embraced me and given me safety to be.
My voice ascended from a deep silenced place of judgement, expectations, obligations, tradition, culture, and religion. It broke out of a dark space that held it in for too long, and it now basks in the sunlight of truth…My truth… my story… my journey.
Finding my voice is a liberation to generations of conditioning, and those who walked this path before me, and it is the emancipation for all who are destined follow.
My voice is a truth that has yet to be entirely heard and a freedom I have yet to fully experience.
From the Haven in Montana I have nothing but deep gratitude and indebtedness to ten beautiful souls I have had the privilege and honor to have met and known, shared and wept, grown and learned from. It is with this voice I thank you and acknowledge your kind hearts, beautiful minds, and unique voices that could hear mine way before I could.
- Noha Al-Kadhi
Now booking 2017 Haven Writing Retreats!
February 22-26 (full with wait list)
To schedule a phone call to learn more about the retreat, go to the Contact Us button here.