I want to talk about telling stories. I want to talk about the people who have to share their rawest moments, in order to be believed, or trusted, or given what is rightfully theirs.
I want to talk about the amazing women of Ireland who are sharing their stories of heartache and loss, of isolation and anger, in the hope that they will be listened to, in the hope that soon they will be given what is theirs. Their human rights. Their bodily autonomy. Their choice.
I want to talk about how we call them brave, these women, and they are brave. They are brave and we are privileged to hear these stories of piercing insights into a grief and pain we hope we will never feel. They tell us, ‘Look. Listen. This is how it is for me. Listen to my truth.’
These are the voices that have been excluded, which are now finding space to be heard.
They are brave because they are breaking away from the narrative we have been told all our lives. They are saying , ‘no, it is not just as you have been told. It is also like this.’
I’m glad the cloak of secrecy and shame is lifting, and it is because of the courage of those who have shared their stories. But we need to strive for a society where people can share their stories without being thought of as brave. This means listening to these stories, and really hearing them. They are what will make us a better society, a place where everyone is treated equally, and no-one has to debate for their rights.
Sharing of stories is what makes us human. The solace of knowing we are not alone, that others are feeling the same, have felt the same and survived. The validation in hearing your experience re-lived, acknowledged by another. ” Yes ” you exhale, ” I have felt that.”
For too long, Ireland has listened to the voice saying women should be punished and disbelieved. Don’t talk about bodies or sex or shameful things. Send them away. But you can’t send them away. Those stories are here, they have always been here.