I celebrated my 37th birthday this month, and like the many birthdays that inch us closer to 40, this one had me not only reflecting on my youth, but also building an inventory of failures and accomplishments to find perspective. As a queer, non-monosexual femme and a survivor of poverty and emotional and sexual abuse, I’ve accomplished more than I thought was ever possible: I’m still alive.
There is a weird thing that happens when you live longer than you expected to and have obtained a sense of safety and stability. The future becomes a thing you are no longer fighting so hard to exist in, but rather are being called to create and shape. The privilege of living and the recognition of that privilege makes you feel out of place. You are suddenly surrounded by people whose definitions of success have never looked like yours. You don’t always feel safe being yourself, and that unexpected loneliness takes a toll on you in ways for which you weren’t prepared. Faced with being alive and thriving, you have a choice: keep assimilating or speak up. Silence can be a tool for survival, but when relied upon long after it’s needed, silence keeps us from our biggest freedom and accomplishment: being ourselves and speaking our truths.
When we speak about our experiences with queerphobia, racism, assault, ableism, cissexism, privilege and poverty, we are holding a light to the ways in which we continually define freedom as the oppression of others and how we refuse to continue to uphold that narrative. Those of us who can must turn towards the discomfort of healing. We must speak to our privileges and suffering, the ways we have been harmed, the ways we have harmed others, and the ways we have come to change our behavior. In a time when social media has amplified the voices of the oppressed and suffering, it may seem like the stories we are hearing are new, but they aren’t. It’s just become far too painful for us to stay silent, and we have chosen to bear the weight of honesty the same as those who came before us.
To all those with the courage and privilege to speak the truth: I hear you. I see you. You are not alone.
Author: Monica Pirani
Bio: Monica Pirani is an American writer, creative and educator. Pirani, who has been an educator for over 15 years, teaches meditation and writes about her life experiences and the social issues that intersect with trauma, poverty and being LGBTQ+.
Link to social media: Instagram @monicapirani | Twitter @monicapirani