My long reply..

When I read your words, I actually started to cry. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story. Your courage to work on yourself, your strength to leave an abusive relationship, to be the tough Mama Bear and raise a child all on your own while going to school and getting back into your body  – wow! – that is so amazing.  I just want to say you’re doing incredible work.

And it’s a really good question you raise, one that resonates with so many women: Where is all that power in the bedroom?

In a way I think you answered it when you said, “For me to completely open up I worry about judgment.” That’s it. The thing that’s taking your power away from you is your fear. Fear of judgment. Fear of rejection.

So how do you deal with this fear?

First, it helps to understand it.

Inside each of us is our inner child. That 5- or 6-year old version of yourself still exists inside you. She’s the curious one. The one who was learning how the world works. So what she learned is still the model that you use (as your current adult self) to make sense of the world.

So what did she learn?

Early on (when she was told not to speak), she learned that what she thought, what she felt, what she needed, what she wanted did not matter. Maybe she was even punished for opening her mouth. So every time she wanted to say something, she was shut down.  Essentially, you learned to not open your mouth and that your needs and desires are not important, especially to the ones who are supposedly taking are of you (e.g., parents, romantic partner).

So now as an adult, you still have the script/story that you should be quiet about your needs and desires

And when you get to that point where you want to speak your desire, you get “triggered. ” When you get triggered, you remember that your needs don’t matter. And you also remember the way you felt when you learned that.  Because..

Memory = information + emotion

And that’s why you freeze. Because your child self is trying to protect you from judgment by reminding you what she learned and how she felt when she tried to speak.

Of course this is my interpretation. And so take from this what makes sense to you. I think what made me cry as I read what you wrote to me is because in a way, your story is my story. And our journeys (in finding our voice) are not so different.

And so the advice I’m going to give you are actually the steps I took (and am currently taking) to find my voice.

Talk to her. What I did above was give this part of you a form, so that you can talk to her. When you close your eyes, do you see her? Can you give this part of yourself a name? On a piece of paper, write her name at the top and add a colon. And then her say and write out.. “Hello. Is anybody there?” Then give your current self a name, write it down right below, and add a colon..

When I did this exercise, I called that little 5-year-old version of myself, Little me and my current adult self, Big me. So your paper may look something  like this..

Little me: Hello! Is anybody there?

Big me:

Now say/write to her however you want to respond. It could be a hello back, or a go away, or whatever comes to you.

And then write “Little me:” below that and have her respond, and keep on going so that these parts of yourself are dialoguing with each other.

(I have some ideas of what you might want to say to her, but I don’t want to disrupt the organic flow of your conversation with her, so come back in a few days and I might add those suggestions here)

(I’m going to share with you my dialogue with my Little Me here in a few days as well)

Write it out. Your fantasy. In more details. Maybe you can write out a scene. What is this powerful woman wearing? How is she commanding respect in the bedroom? What is she doing? How is her partner responding to her? I ask that because when you wrote “In my fantasies I am a powerful woman, an athlete, one who commands respect” I was confused. Because in my own head, when I read your words, I already thought that you were. I see you as this powerful woman. It sounds like you’re working out, getting fit, like you’re an athlete in training. So I’m curious where is the line between fantasy and reality? Because in a way, I think you’re already blurring the lines between the two by taking the steps to becoming the woman in your fantasy. So if you can, flesh out your fantasy in words. Write it out just for yourself, so that the words will flow..

Take Singing Lessons. Find a singing teacher, schedule your first lesson, and see how it goes. If you like their vibe and teaching style, continue taking lessons with them. If not, keep on finding a teacher that feels right to you. So that you can work on strengthening your voice. It’s a muscle, and like the rest of your body, with more practice, you’ll..

 

(S, I’m going to pause here because I realize that I have much to say and I tend to get too into the details and it’ll be more effective if I just reach out to you directly and see where you are and how I can be of help. But I will add more to this response since your question and my response may help others as well.)

 

To the much shorter answer