Sunday, August 9, 2020

On Claiming My Own Voice

I am white.  Cisgendered.  Heterosexual.  Able-bodied.  Neurotypical.  White collar.  Middle class.  Suburban American.  All of which can contribute to a feeling of not being particularly special and therefore not having anything particularly special to contribute to a lot of the important conversations going on.  (Black and white thinking, I know, but true.)

I also identify as a suicide loss survivor, mental health advocate, and individual who herself struggles with mental illness.  I work very hard in my role as a therapist to normalize the difficulties my clients face and to enable them to talk about everything from serious trauma and suicidality to every other thought that can make a person feel completely alienated and alone.  And I work very hard on myself in my efforts to not only practice what I preach but also integrate greater levels of spirituality and universal compassion.  All of which leads me to feel like I have quite a lot to say on the subject of mental health and its countless intersections within all of those aforementioned important conversations.

In the end, though, the most accurate term I can use to label myself (for as useful as labels can be) is human.  I think that best captures all the similarities and differences.  Not only of myself, but of everyone.  Human describes all people on the planet regardless of what they do or don't identify as.  And therefore dehuamization in any form is what I hate the most.  And one of the most dehuamizing experiences a person can have is being denied their voice.  Especially when the person denying it is them.

So regardless of how special or completely ordinary I may be I have to speak out.  About what I know and what I don't.  I have to share information and ask questions.  I have to point out what the world looks like from within my own skin and try to get a better understanding of what it looks like from inside others'.  I have to amplify my own voice and also hand the mic over to those being silenced.

It's not about being special.  If I believe in human rights then I have to believe in my own.  Especially the right to my own voice.

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