Overcoming the Fear of Speaking Up

I’ve lived in fear of speaking up most of my life. I’ve only challenged it sometimes. Covid and quarantining makes you really have time to think. It gives you the time to work on things about yourself that you may want to change or the things about your life that you may want to overcome. Speaking up or writing about anything and putting it out there for the whole world to see, without fear, is something I struggle with.fearful

Fear. It’s hard to be a writer and to be fearful. As a writer, knowing that fear will hold you back, is a hard thing to tackle and overcome. I write a lot about personal or private experiences and my thoughts or opinions on many matters. I am not scared of sharing. 

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Though, I am scared of retaliation or backlash or just plain physical harm or threats because doing so. A friend and I recently spoke about speaking up. We both come from addicted childhoods. Alcoholism. Never being allowed to speak up is a condition that comes from growing up in a household that had alcoholism in it. We are supposed to be seen and not heard. You can never rock the boat in a household where anything can set off the alcoholic or the other adult that has to maintain some kind of household that has to deal with an adult that is constantly making a wreck of their lives. So, when I was speaking with my friend, I had mentioned to her that I was in fear of a physical response more than anything. Sometimes I have also felt guilty, too. Even guilty of speaking up when I was hurting. As most adult children of alcoholics do, we swallow everything and try to remain silent. We bury our feelings, our thoughts, our words.

Never being able to speak up was hard. Because for the most part, if you spoke up or confronted anything, you’d sometimes get hurt. A slap could come from anybody. If someone didn’t like what you had to say even if you were being honest, you could be backhanded. Even from a sibling. So, I learned to never be confrontational. Yes sometimes I slipped up, regurgitated my thoughts, but I am only human and it was rare for me to do so.  

speaking upSo now as an adult, I have navigated to try to learn how to speak up without fear of harm and in a more civil manner than shouting or fighting, which is what I saw growing up. It’s hard to learn something you were never taught, so it has been challenging at times, but necessary. We must speak up when something is wrong, we must speak up and ask for a raise at work, we must speak up in court when you’re battling someone that keeps lying and doesn’t want to pay you child support, we must speak up and say what we are looking for in a relationship, and we must speak up on how we expect to be spoken to or treated. But, when I write and have written over the years my fear comes from people’s thoughts and opinions on how I should not say something about something or someone, even though time has passed and I hold no resentment. I cannot help it if they are in so much fear of secrets being revealed, their own shame for things they’ve done, or just that they like to maintain an image that is clearly perfection. None of us are perfect. Time has passed and people have learned and grown. But, some of us are trying to speak up to break the silence, break the cycle of keeping secrets and toxicity, tell others that they are not alone, and heal by sharing and talking to one another.

This fear that I have keeps me back. I’m scared of what will happen to me. The fear is based on physical harm more than anything. It’s just what I was trained as a child, not necessarily that it would happen as an adult. Let me tell you, the PTSD is real, but at least nowadays I am aware what the panic is and where it comes from. The physical harm could happen, but more than likely it wouldn’t. So it’s been hard to overcome this fear of physical harm coming from speaking your truth. But this morning in the rarest of moments that I’ve had, I know that I need to challenge this fear and stop being scared and hiding. I cannot be scared of what someone might do. I cannot be scared of what could happen. Fear in some cases, is irrational and it is holding me back as a writer. I must let go and live my life to the fullest.

Without fear there is only abundance. Without fear there is only freedom. Without fear there is only true fulfillment and happiness.
I will live this day and the rest, moving forward, walking through fear and not let it hold me back.