In 2017, I was thrust into the public eye with no choice, no voice, and no credibility.
My private quiet life imploded and I was the bullseye for a bloodbath where facts were flagrantly ignored, evangelical power was egregiously exploited, and my family and I were successfully crushed under the weight of it all. We were sued, silenced, publicly slandered, whilst being systematically slaughtered.
I took to twitter anonymously initially. Even when I brewed up enough brave to say my own name, I never said his. I whispered into the screaming headwinds. I fought to think, to see, to grasp the truth and lash myself to the mast of it. The storm raged. All was lost. We rallied. All was lost again. This went on for years. Two steps forward, twelve back. Eventually, despite all odds, we kept the ground we gained.
Terrified, I typed tens of thousands of careful characters, titrated in 280 keystrokes at a time. It was a trickle of truth that I had to tell to myself even if no one else ever listened. For a long time no one did. The truth starts from inside and it flows out, eroding falsehood faithfully long after it leaks out of lips and drips out through fingertips.
“Courage,” I continually say, “is the single best contagion.” Courage doesn’t feel like brave when it is happening. It feels like crazy. It feels like terror. It feels like trying not to die. It feels like one miserable moment at a time. It feels like being swallowed whole only to be vomited up in repeated victimization. It feels like paralysis laced with panic. It feels like nothing will ever be the same and like nothing will ever change and both will be simultaneously true. It looks like brave only in hindsight, a billion baby steps back from the brink. Never will it be a distant memory. It is an ever present reality that gets rocked to back to sleep with each passing week. It quiets but it is never completely silent. Courage is not only talking truth back to power, it is also talking truth back to terror.
I never wanted to be a victim, a survivor, or an advocate. I wanted to give to my kids what I didn’t have, which was a safe, stable, and quiet life with enough. I didn’t choose to be thrust into the public square, but as most of you know, I have chosen to leave it. I left it because I could no longer live with it. Social media platforms are developed and designed to be highly addictive and to stimulate the maximum amount of outrage. I found myself succumbing to both. I observed myself becoming something/someone I never wanted to be and never will be again.
Life is quieter now. I move more. I am taking a calligraphy class. I listen to others better. I am more present in the time that is now, with the people around me, and the person within me. I live with less outrage and I am able to hold my peace with more ease. I am happier to hear from others and have more of myself to share.
I stayed so long in the social media space to give back to my fellow survivors, because I feel a responsibility to our community, and for love of you each. I stayed because I didn’t want to disappoint all the people who believed in me, who invested in me and whom I invest and believe in. I also arrogantly thought I was needed. Over time, I realized that I could not stay somewhere deleterious simply because of perennial need.
Additionally, I am keenly aware of how heady it is to be heard; how seductive it is to be sought after; how easy it is to cultivate a false sense of ones own importance; to conflate impact with intimacy; to substitute personhood with persona; to build a platform whilst inadvertently and unintentionally demolishing a personal life.
In some ways I feared returning to a quieter life. Though I am forever changed and an internet search of my name will never be “the same” — those fears have largely been unfounded. I am discovering that it is not only possible, but profitable to “love even more” by living a quiet life.
Here’s to a life where there is more in the less.
6 thoughts on “A Quiet Life”
May more of us embrace and lead out in this quiet, still, and creative life. Your words are evidence of still waters already.
I continue to be led/encouraged by your wisdom. I’m grateful
Aww. Thank you. There is more in the less, for sure. I am honoured you took the time to read, Candace. We are on this road together.
Beautiful, Ben. You continue to inspire me with not only your passion for others but also your own pursuit of growth.
Such beautiful words, Lori Anne. I followed your story from the beginning, even before I had language to put to my own experience. Like a flaming torch it let the way out of a labyrinth for many of us. I’m deeply sorry for what you have been through, and grateful that you generously and courageously worked through it so faithfully. I continue to find hope in your words. I hope your pursuit of creativity replenishes and reconnects you. I hope the slowness and quietness bless you as I am sure it will bless those around you. Thank you!
Suffering, born well, not only alters us in unimaginable ways, it also illuminates. I am so glad this has been true for you too.
Thank you for your kind words and courage. Both go a long way.