My fifteen-year-old daughter is in her high school’s show choir.
These talented teens audition each spring, and they find out who makes the cut before summer break. Then, as the new school year begins, so do rehearsals. They work themselves through the songs, through the choreography, eventually combining the two; they hone, they polish, and they get themselves competition-ready. Then, it’s their time to shine.
There’s growth to be witnessed here—I’ve seen it in my daughter—and I compare it to the process that happens when a victim of domestic abuse transforms to survivor.
First there’s a decision to make. Auditioning — and leaving an abusive relationship — takes summoning your courage, realizing you’ll regret not doing it and therefore embracing that you must, then, ultimately, exposing yourself to a certain vulnerability.
Once you’ve made the roster — or gotten away from your abuser — relief follows. That first momentous step has been taken. Deep breath. You’ve DONE it. There is no turning back, but you must pace yourself, so you rest for a bit. You regroup. Reflect. Recharge. It’s downtime before the next surge. Just like those kids during summer break.
At the same time you’re quietly collecting more courage. Pooling a reserve of it, along with the stamina you’ll need soon enough, when the real work begins. After all, there will be no authentic reward at the end of this without commitment and effort.
The days pass and suddenly you’re called to action. It’s time to move from merely having made it in — or made it out — to progress. It’s time to learn and prove yourself, and you are enthusiastic, though things are clunky at first. You’ve never done this “song and dance” before.
It takes practice, practice, practice, and a lot of patience.
Some days are hard. Beyond hard. Nothing feels right. Your energy flags. The universe seems to work against you, and at times it’s hard to trust yourself. To trust the unknown, but then you remember what you’ve already accomplished. You’ve made it here. Look at you! And so you tap into that courage and stamina, and add to it some resiliency. You remember your goal, and why you chose to do this. Why you couldn’t quit — or go back — if you tried.
Practice, practice, and patience. Self-love.
Gradually your voice gains strength. Not only do you see a potential in yourself that was untapped before, but you also see it manifesting. Before you know it your body knows the rhythm it’s been working toward, this whole thing is fluid and familiar. Second nature. You’ve a newfound level of comfort and self-confidence to propel you in this performance of a lifetime.
Now it’s the survivor’s time to shine.
Written by Janna Leadbetter for Breaking the Silence for Women, 2018.