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The Story of a Life of Silence by Rona Frye

My trajectory from not trusting the world enough to express myself to the fierce warrior woman I am now.


My tongue was tied for most of my life. From toddlerhood on, my mother could not stand my curiosity. She admonished me for ‘driving her crazy’. The irony is that when she shut me down, those thoughts, ideas, questions and fears just went underground. They didn’t go away. But my trust in being heard grew large. Until I silenced myself. I allowed people to blow my hair back without asking for reciprocity.  I believed that what I thought or had to say was not relevant or important or smart. And I feared that if I poured my heart out they would turn away and listen to someone else like my mother did, or worse, laugh at me like my dad did. My siblings got the same treatment. 


We were all in the same house, the same family, but we didn’t know each other. We never really knew each other on a deep level. And that is crushingly sad to me. 


My mom set the stage and the only things spoken to us were to get up, eat dinner, go to bed, and take a bath. I raised the bar on this treatment with my kids so that when they were teens, I told them that I was raising them up to my level and that they were as evolved as I was. In other words, I was starting at ground zero, too.


One day, sitting in the living room of an estate in Snowmass, Colorado, (an estate I managed), all those questions came flowing out like a river, onto paper. They flowed like there was a purpose for them now. I wrote them all down and turned them into a book I called YOU!  And I created a questionnaire for my media friends and called it Wise Women. 


I used that book of questions to help others open up to their trapped, buried selves. I gave what I wanted. I blessed others with my undivided attention, and, shined my light on them. As they unearthed all that they had never been asked to share, this process helped them take a closer look at their pasts, examine them, and heal them. They cried, came out of depression, and begged me not to stop. And the amazing thing is that this happened to all ages and both men and women. The need was that vast!


I silenced myself for so long that I could not make myself stand up to ask a question or share a thought, in front of a group of people, no matter how much I wanted to. I was tongue-tied. All my truths were buried so long, I didn’t know how to put words to them. And I didn’t trust people to really hear me or care about what I thought. 


My friend in Arizona invited me to attend her first gatherings of women into circle and since we did not have the tools yet to know how to keep one person from dominating the whole conversation, the rest of us sat there silenced again. I, for one, had dozens of thoughts I wanted to express but as time went on I got crushed by that one person (someone who also desperately needed to be heard) dominate the whole experience. Because this was a trigger for me, I decided that I was not circle material. I didn’t want to silence my voice any longer. 


At family gatherings I wanted to make our experience more meaningful by having my family talk about life, thoughts, gratitude, stories, deep heartfelt ideas, but when the day came I could not make myself do it. I was so locked up inside that it was too scary to introduce this idea to my family! I knew they did not know how to open up and share from the heart and be heard, either! 


I never found the courage to break out of this lifelong pattern. So, we did what we always did, talk about nothing of importance, nothing of meaning, nothing about gratitude or what this holiday stood for. 


I can be in the presence of my family and never learn anything about them. I can’t know them deeply. And I longed for that. The hunger for this kind of meaningful sharing was painfully deep and locked down. It felt like I was the only one who felt this way. It can’t be true, but it felt that way. 


I attended a spiritual center in Hereford, Arizona and when it was time for sharing, people held up their hand to share what was on their minds or hearts or what they just wanted to share. I would listen in amazement when they slowly spoke to the room with no fear of being interrupted or laughed at, or talked over. I made a promise, every time, that this time I would share something, but as the sharing time came I found I could not wrestle up the courage to trust that it would be safe to trust them. 


Still today, when asked a question, because I feel certain that no one will patiently listen to me, I spit out a quick, short, response. I cannot make myself attend the women’s circles even today because the PTSD of thinking I still won’t be heard is too deep and my heart is so scarred. 


I watch in awe when others bravely and casually, share their thoughts with zero fear of being cut off. I say to myself, “clearly they are used to being heard”. In the small circle I belong to now, working on the very important Motherline book, I still have to work on my trust issues. Even though I feel the love, respect, honor and trust, for each other, and the respect for circle principles, I still struggle to open up completely.  It is not because they won’t hear me. It is because I can’t make myself trust that they will patiently hear me out, even though, they would. My injured soul still locks down my voice. 


Our Motherline team lead has challenged me to start attending multiple circles and begin sharing myself. She wants me to overcome this so that I can share what I know with others. I agreed and will put my ‘toe’ in the water to see how it goes. I want to. But will I?


I have two daughters who listen very well to me and we have that deep trust, and deep sharing. I have a few friends who I am wide open with. But I keep it at one at a time. That is my safety net. 


The bottom line is this, my path has led me to Gather the Women. I have chosen to join in the monumentally important Motherline book process, in a circle of four other women and me. It is my initiation into overcoming my fears and learning to trust my sisters. They all want all of us to rise and lift each other up to be all that we can be; and go out into the world helping other women rise up.  The sky is the limit if we can all trust in each other. 


Lastly, as testimony to the Motherline book, as I clean up and edit each interview that two of the fire tenders do with past leaders, I never wrap up the interviews without expressing absolute amazement, awe, and joy over how these women grew, evolved and became a force to help Gather the Women grow and expand into the global circle that it is.

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