Take up space, but stay in your lane.

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

I can say trigger warning because my life is a living, walking trigger. And it comes with no warning.
I can speak on certain marginalized groups because my lifetime will be spent fighting for them, my children with severe nonverbal autism. Yes, three of them out of four.
And how do you rile a woman who has been conditioned to stay silent and stay agreeable? Give her three nonverbal autistic children who can’t speak.

Lately, I’ve noticed a fear-mongering trend and I have to speak on it.


For the majority of my life, I’ve twisted, contorted, nipped, tucked, and turned my cheek to be liked – as being liked and agreeable was always a sign of being well-bred.


And, I was groomed to serve and deliver comfort to those around me in a garnished presentation and on an overpriced plate of Versace China.


Well, lately, my life hasn't been so comfortable.
And so I’m not so much interested in being likeable or agreeable any longer.

And I’ve noticed that what I have left is my voice. But lately censorship has taken to new levels, disassembling words down to their nubs.


And I feel a collective dissociation from our confidence with our words. Which means we will no longer be equipped to articulate our experiences. We will no longer have the freedom to even speak our truths lest they offend or trigger others.


Soon, the actual letters of the alphabet will be assigned with trigger warnings and color-coded guides of potential offense.


And soon, the truths told by those who speak the loudest, and by those in power, will become the universal truth.


I can say trigger warning because my life is a living, walking trigger. And it comes with no warning.


I can speak on certain marginalized groups because my lifetime will be spent fighting for them, my children with severe nonverbal autism. Yes, three of them out of four.


And while my children lack the methods to physically utter words, I will not ever be silenced.


Nor will they.


The one thing I still have is my voice, and the words with which to articulate my experience.

Remove those, and I have nothing. And I refuse because my childrens’ diagnoses have already stripped so many breathlessly wonderful things from me and them.


And how do you rile a woman who has been conditioned to stay silent and stay agreeable?
Give her three nonverbal autistic children who can’t speak.
Suddenly my voice has to speak for the four of us.

I will be such an incalculably, unflinchingly true, and relentlessly raw voice because it will need to echo them and theirs.


The first thing to sprout for me were my words. Tiny, nascent roots burrowing down into the depth of the dark.


And now, the flower, the bloom of my rage, is glaring directly into the eye of the sun.


I see you.

Nobody has authority over how you grieve.
Nobody gets to tell you how to heal.
Nobody gets to censor how you tell your story.
Nobody gets to speak on behalf of an entire community, even as a member of said community.

Whatever symbols, colors, activities, words, or methods of expression you employ to articulate your personal experience, are yours.


Whatever tools, hacks, modes of operation, or coping mechanisms you use to get through your unique life circumstances are yours to use.


And what is solely yours is just that: not doctrine, not law, you are not the PC police. You are not the government or religious representative for your brethren, even if you’ve done a Facebook poll.


Don’t become a door-to-door evangelist for your own personal agenda, or the collective agenda of groups you belong to. You are not the spokesperson or the omnipotent voice of a group just because you tick a few boxes in its Facebook group description.


You are one of many living an experience in your own personal way, alongside others. Just that.


You are the author of your story, the sole owner of your experience, nobody else. And nobody else’s.


Social media has us molding our thoughts into sound-bites before we even speak. Our entire experience is being lived and told redactively, painted with a broad brush and Instagram filter.


Enough.


Tell it in your words, like nobody else can. And without cross-referencing the list of who will be offended, or how many likes or @s you’ll get.


But don’t ever, in any capacity, try to silence my words, or the words of others walking alongside me in what is a beautiful but sometimes thankless, soul-wrenching experience.


I will not mistake the wagging of your finger as you pointing me in the right direction.


I will not harken your fear-mongering, didactic, passive-aggressive garble for a teachable moment.


Take up space, by all means. (Or use that on your next social media inspo post.)


But know when to stay in your lane.


© 2019 by RAISING A PHOENYX.