I have always identified myself with my voice! Whenever someone asked which of my senses could I live without, I used to reply "all of them but my voice".
I started singing at a very young age. I showed musical ability at 3 years old when I would sit at the piano and plunk out known songs. I then started singing along to them and it is in those moments that a performer was born. I started competing (and winning) at the age of 7 and I was hooked. I represented my country singing in international competitions, singing in many parts of the world.
My childhood was one that left me with very little self-esteem, but if you asked me to sing, I would do so proudly. It was my solace, my passion and it is what kept me sane through all the years of gas-lighting and abuse living with a narcissistic alcoholic of a father.
Fast forward to 2013, and my world was forever changed. On May 6th, two intruders broke into my home with the intent to harm or kill me leaving a weapon at the door should I have returned home mid-burgle. On May 19th, my brother Brenton died by suicide choosing to die by laying down in front of a train. I was diagnosed with PTSD which resulted in lots of therapy, medications, and heartbreak.
These events alone would have brought anyone to their knees, but it didn't end there. January 3, 2014, I received a vile letter from my maternal grandmother, aunts, and uncles (8 out of 10 of them to be precise) saying horrible things to me and making fun of my PTSD diagnosis. The very people who were supposed to love me unconditionally set a condition to their love. I confronted my grandmother because I couldn't believe she would go along with such an abhorrent display of hate for a family member. It turns out she did and when I told her that reading the letter was the first time in my life I truly wanted to die; I wanted the world to swallow me up, she told me I deserved what I got.
This lead to a diagnosis of C-PTSD especially because therapy was always bringing forward undealt with issues with my father's alcoholism and narcissism. The realization that I had been surrounded by narcissists became overwhelming. Sadly, it didn't end there either!
Three weeks after receiving the letter, a paternal uncle decided to publicly berate and shame me telling everyone I deserved no compassion for I had shown none to my father. His accusations were built on the lies my Dad had told him. Hundreds of people saw his posts and many came to my defense. It wasn't until one of my university professors put him in his place trying to stand up for me that I truly recognized the magnitude of what was happening and I crumbled. I was a teacher at the time and went to work the next day to have many parents of my students come and hug me when I realized just how many people saw my uncle airing his ugly, petulant opinions specifically intended to hurt me.
I managed to keep it all together until October 18, 2015! The school where I was working was extremely toxic and had been for years. Our boss was abusive to all the women (the men were often spared) and she relentlessly would go after one person at a time. It seemed to be my turn and she chose to do it while I was away with students on a choir retreat. I had a full breakdown. That was the end of me. My voice was officially silenced.
I spent years off work, in therapy, going to group therapies for suicide survivors, and trying to make sense of all the traumatic incidents that had happened within a 2-year span. Every day was a struggle to just stay alive! I dealt with suicidal ideation and spent many days on suicide watch in various ways. I was fighting for my life. I didn't want to die and yet, I didn't want to exist anymore. It doesn't make sense to those who have never experienced those feelings, but that was my daily battle.
Fast-forward to January 2020! At this point, I had spent a few years healing. I moved out of the big city of Toronto to my hometown where I grew up - Elora. It was the last place I remember ever being truly happy. It was the best thing I could have done for myself because I settled in quickly. I was on waiting lists for many trauma programs and lucky for me, a spot finally opened up in one that happened to be in the next town over.
My healing truly began with a group of the strongest, most amazing women I had ever come to know. I made a vow after reading a woman's response on Facebook to the question asking everyone how long they had been dealing with PTSD. Her answer was, "Forty-three years and counting!"
I was gobsmacked. I decided at that moment that my story would be different. I was going to do whatever it took to heal and move forward. My journey had begun and I was willing to try anything. I did yoga, meditation, soul-coaching, did a course on angels, did my Reiki Level 1, read every book I could find on moving forward and self-improvement - the list goes on and on. It started working!!! I felt stronger and more capable of taking on the world, but I still hadn't found my voice. It had been at least 4 years since I had really sung in public.
There was one final confrontation to be had and sadly, it ended many friendships. I stood up for what I believed in and had taken on the responsibility of confronting someone head-on instead of participating in the endless talking behind their back. I was very quickly thrown under the bus, but I wasn't going to back down and I removed myself from the show I was involved with because I wasn't going to put my name on something where my integrity was questioned. Sadly, these people I had called friends used my mental health against me and told me I clearly needed more therapy and needed help. I knew better though. They didn't like that I was standing up for myself and for my beliefs against them. This is where I found my voice again! It is here that I vowed to use my gifts and talents to help others!
So now, I speak for those who can't. I help women entrepreneurs find their voice in business and become the leaders they know they are inside. I help Mompreneurs do the same and also learn better ways of connecting and communicating with their families. I teach tweens and teens emotional resiliency by finding their voice in life so they can achieve their goals and find what lights them up; to pursue what they're passionate about and reach for their dreams.
Before succumbing to cancer, my friend Alison's motto was to hear her "ROAR" as a way of fighting. In honor of her and my deep felt love and respect for her, I shall take on the same - HEAR ME ROAR!