I was in the airport about to make my way from South Africa to Dubai when I heard about Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globe Awards. I quickly hopped online to have a listen and see what the fuss was all about. As my plane started to board, I sat at the gate, glued to my computer screen. Listening to Oprah’s message made me teary and emotional. If you haven’t heard her speech yet, you might want to have a quick listen.
She shared so many inspiring insights and stories with the sea of women wearing black in solidarity and protest of sexual harassment, but what struck me most was this line: “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
As many of you know, like so many other women, I experienced sexual abuse throughout my youth and young adulthood. What you may not know is that I have been working on a memoir to share my story.
Choosing to write a book is a fascinating process. I can’t tell you how many times I sit down to write and my inner dialogue chimes in with all kinds of objections: Koelle, the majority of women on this planet have experienced all sorts of abuse, so much worse than your own. The world really doesn’t need one more story about it. Then there is the voice that says, What on earth are you doing? What if something you write down unintentionally hurts someone you love? And another that pipes in, Koelle, you’re nuts if you choose to share these stories! The men who violated you are going to come after you. Why would you create such unnecessary stress for yourself?
It can be downright overwhelming. When I reach the moment that I think I should just stop this whole writing project, I remind myself to get still and take a deep breath. I slow down my breathing and acknowledge that these internal voices are offering up some logically valid points meant to keep me safe BUT they are coming from a place of fear and shame. I then deliberately shift my attention to all of the people I know who have had the courage to share their stories. The ones who have spoken with honesty and clarity in the face of some horrendous difficulties and situations. The ones who have provided hope and inspiration to me on my journey, and to countless others. I remind myself that our stories are necessary and powerful. When we share our individual voices, we help shape a new world of collective awareness.
Oprah’s words, and the words of all the courageous people who have participated in the #MeToo movement, have been an incredible source of motivation and inspiration for me. They give me the strength to keep writing even when the voices of self-doubt start to kick in.
If the social and political climate lately has revealed anything, it is that we desperately need a new level of awareness on the topic of sexual abuse. It takes courage to speak out. It also takes great courage to listen and remain curious about what is going on to fuel these behaviors. Both our willingness to share our stories and our willingness to listen can enable women and men, survivors and perpetrators, to emerge from the shadows of shame and secrecy and step into the light of compassion and truth, where the healing will happen.
Horses have always helped me to see that when we stand in our truth and self-acceptance, a profound healing takes place. This healing enables each of us to form a new level of trust and connection, which ripples outward. When we create change within ourselves, we inevitably change the world.
I wanted take a moment this month to say thank you to Oprah. Thank you to all of the women and men who are speaking their truth even when it’s difficult and scary. And thank you to all of you within the Equus Coaching community who cheer me on and encourage me to sit my tooshie down and keep writing, even when the voices of doubt creep in!