Living Out Loud

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola

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“Mammy, stop talking, okay? Look at Lalaloopsy,” said Claire, my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. She held up one hand to interrupt me, while the other was on her hip right before she reached for her baby doll.

This was in response to me saying, “Well, Claire, I think it’s time for …”

She’d already had a bath, snack, and story time, so all that remained was bedtime. I guess she hoped to change up the conversation and get out of it.

I thought, I bet your granddaddy wishes he could pull off your cuteness when he changes the topic while I’m telling him he still isn’t listening well.

I thought about my grown son and daughter who’d probably appreciate a grin like I gave Claire instead of a glare when they try to shut me up with “Mom, …” said in two syllables and in a tone that, if you’re a mother, you know grinds off this page.

My friend probably wished I’d laughed along when, like Claire, she used hand signals to wave away my mention of depression as she rambled about how grateful she and I should be for never experiencing anything like it. She said, “Not you. You’re happy and funny.”

She’d sat in spiritual groups where I’d shared about bouts with depression, as well as sitting across the table like this evening and talking one-on-one. All I wanted was a to-go box and my check before I said something critical like, “Why do we bother to get together? Is it so you can change the subject? I mean, what’s the point?”

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“The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society.” Michael Leunig

My husband listened that evening after I crammed the box into the refrigerator and talked about my sad lot in life. I said, “How could she not know I’ve been depressed? Or maybe she didn’t want to hear it?”

With him as my witness, I accused her of being thoughtless toward others. I talked about how she asked questions, but only if those questions bring the conversation back around to her. I mentioned how she had something to prove with every point she made and how she always, always, always had an agenda, usually political over personal. I blamed her a dozen times for a ruined evening before I talked about myself and how I felt.

I hurt when I’m not heard. Therefore, instead of running off with my to-go box, I need to speak up.

A friend cautioned me about this … about friends and my conversations when I’d whine no one listened to me, tell how everyone interrupted, and settled on shutting up as the solution. She bolstered me time and again, but kept asking the same question I was tempted to ask my other friend at dinner, “What’s the point?”

My point was to make them listen to me.

My friend’s point was for me to say what I have to say. To speak up. To live out loud. 

Even though she’s been gone for years, I can almost sense my friend’s relief now that I’m finally listening to her.

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Here’s the stuff that’s made it hard to say what I have to say:

  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I dislike confrontation.
  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I’m uncomfortable with being perceived as confrontational.
  • I’m living out loud even when people don’t like what I have to say.
  • I’m living out loud instead of screaming when I’m not heard the first time or the second or the third. With each repetition, what I want gets clearer even to me.
  • I’m living out loud even though I shake, which happens when I’m afraid I won’t be heard yet again. I say what I have to say until I am heard. It helps I’m a former kindergarten teacher.

Here’s the stuff that’s made it worth it:

I’m “living out loud” because of the tremendous gift of being heard on my blog and videos.

I’m “living out loud” because of how significant speaking up and being heard has been toward restoration and happiness and toward getting my own life. A friend remarked, “Have you noticed how much happier you seem?”

Why, yes, I have.

I’m “living out loud” because of my daughter and my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law; because of my quiet friends who have bold statements to make, but they’re not sure they can; because of friends I care deeply about who aren’t speaking up to their husbands and grown children and parents even though they need to; because I wish someone had spoken up for me when, even though I looked capable, I didn’t feel it.

I’m “living out loud” so Claire remembers she told me to stop talking, but I didn’t. And so she won’t either.

What did you come into this life to do?

In This Together,
Kim

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19 responses »

  1. Just this week my almost 4 year old granddaughter did a similar thing, While on the phone with her Grammy, she always puts on speaker when Laura is there. The topic came up about chewing gum.I said something about how chewing gum was made out of rubber and not good for you.Right away, Laura was ready for the conversation to end.So we did. Life…is a gift.

    • Hahaha, Joel. That’s really cute and sounds a lot like Claire. She doesn’t mind changing the subject or telling me I’m not being nice when she doesn’t want to hear about not pushing Wyatt, eating what’s on her plate, or not running in the house. She told me one evening, “Mammy, you shouldn’t say that. It’s not nice.” I think I was telling her to eat her veggies. 🙂 They make life so much fun and funny.

  2. A long time ago it seemed like I went through a stream of people who would ask me, “Why on earth did you choose to be a minister”? Usually it was in the context of not understanding because I am a woman or thinking why I have a calling they don’t necessarily approve of. I used to just answer, “Because God called me, and I responded”. While this is very much the truth, it took a few times of having different people ask me that question for me to finally receive a real huge part of why God called me and why I responded. Its because first and foremost its is what it takes to “heal me”. Being a preaching minister for awhile gave me a voice and in that voice…I was healing. I know there are other reasons but I cant think of one as personally important for me as a human being. That is how important God feels that we are heard. When I don’t, I become ill. I discovered at a preacher I could say my stuff with God standing right there with me. Its like now people have to sit and listen because I AM the “speaker”! Have I learned to do that in every area of my life yet? NOPE. But I am determined to be heard because, pardon the expression, “it matters”.

    • Thanks for leaving a comment that makes me think more about what I’ve written and reinforces how much I need to live out loud.

      I can imagine how healing it must be to have an audience and feel heard by them. I love what you said about God calling you to be a minister because “That is how important God feels that we are heard.” I believe it!

      I can also relate to becoming ill when you’re not heard. You know that’s happened to me more than once. We need the healing that comes with being heard.

      ❤ I'm grateful we have each other to do some of the listening.

      • Yes, I am grateful too. It’s truly a miracle to be listened to without judgement and with compassion even if there was not an understanding. With us, we usually know exactly how the other feels, but I know that even if that were not true, we could still communicate well without either agreeing or disagreeing. Sometimes we just know that it helps and heals to just spill it all out and afterward it feels like a huge weight is lifted. Ironically you and I happened to have a lot in common but I think maybe a lot of women do as well. Maybe they just don’t feel safe to let it all out.

      • I agree, Jenine. I think there are a lot of us out there, but we don’t feel safe sharing with each other. We’ve all been hurt by our spouses, our kids, our friends, and we think by God, so who’s safe. It’s a gift to find a friend who listens without judgment. Thank you. ❤ And I think we're trying to do that for others too.

    • Pia, I agree. I feel more heard in person now that I’m speaking up online. Not sure why it’s worked, but it has.

      I want us both to have one. ❤ ❤

      I love your blog.

  3. Kim, I absolutely love this post! You’ve been a huge inspiration for me to live out loud, or at least more out loud. I’m not there yet but working on it. Your statement about looking capable but not feeling it rang true especially. I think if we “look capable” people won’t probe any deeper lest they uncover the snake under the rock. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for people to think someone is depressed when they put up a good front. A few years ago a friend’s husband committed suicide. One of the things she told me was that in the weeks immediately preceding his death, he seemed happier than he’d been–new job, new opportunities, etc. So even though she had seen him through several bouts of depression and hospitalization, she was shocked to find him dead. Everyone wondered how could that be, because in public he was always smiling and joking. I had known him for at least 10 years and never guessed. We all so need to be heard at the deepest level, and to listen to others between the words and smiles.

    • I was asked by my daughter to respond to her girlfriends house the night her mother committed suicide. It was Christmas Eve. The police were still there and her mom was still in the house. I went in and stood there with her body laying on the floor and all I could think of was why on earth no one ever knew or felt this might happen. I thought surely there must have been signs. Now I am tending to think that people feel so unsafe to express their issues that they go unattended to. We never know how important listening is until we see something like this happen.

      • Jenine, your comment, along with Mary’s, confirms I need to finish my post about suicide. It’s so, so, so true what you said, “We never know how important listening is until we see something like this happen.” ❤

      • Yes, you should do that one. People need an outlet otherwise it eats them up inside and sometimes we never know its happening because of the façade on the outside. Everyone needs a safe place to vent and work things through. Its like we all need to be each others counselors. Stronger in numbers.

    • Thanks, Mary. You’ve been a huge inspiration for me as well, and also you’ve motivated me to keep writing. I mean, I can’t not write if I’ve encouraged you to do it and you are. 🙂 I sure appreciate our mutual encouragement.

      I’ve been working on a post about suicide, but I can’t seem to say what I want to say or get it anywhere near publishable. The topic’s come up too many times recently not to talk about it though. The funeral i recently attended was the result of suicide. Then there’s a friend’s friend in Greenville who posted her 14-year-old daughter’s suicide letter from a couple of years ago. When I first stumbled onto it in my newsfeed, I had no idea it was anyone who lived close by or that we had mutual friends. It was heartbreaking enough without the connections. And when Robin Williams died, our daughter called and said it scared her because he reminded her of me.

      I think it’s time to write about it and post it. ❤

  4. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Christy Young, Debbie Morris and 14 others

    Summer Turner Modeling for the women & girls in your family and for the rest of us — priceless! Loved your ending about Claire!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · July 16 at 1:50pm

    Kim Henson Thanks bunches, Summer Turner. Claire’s taught me so much already. ❤ And thank you and Vicki Jacobs for last night. I had so much fun and came home refreshed and relaxed.
    Like · Reply · 2 · July 16 at 10:54pm

    Vicki Jacobs Great article Kim! I so enjoy your blog posts! Keep writing and sharing you are so talented!!
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · July 17 at 7:45am

    Kim Henson Thank you, Vicki Jacobs. You have such a gift for what you do also. ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · July 17 at 9:31pm

    Vicki Jacobs Thank you Kim!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · July 17 at 10:10pm

    Christy Young Always enjoy your blogs Kim!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · July 17 at 11:26pm

    Kim Henson Thanks bunches, Christy Young. ❤
    Like · Reply · 1 · July 17 at 11:30pm

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