When Silence and Speech both Burn Too Much by Marisa Goudy

Read Part One of this post here.

I’ve been participating in Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin’s RISE Activist/Leader Bootcamp this summer.  You may know this modern warrior priestess. She’s a lawyer turned corporate leadership consultant who broadcasts Resistance Live on Facebook.

In one training session, she spoke at length about the ways that women are silenced and how their voices are repressed. Nodding along, I remembered all the times I’d been accused of being “shrill” and warned not to “cackle.”

Though in high school I was voted “most likely to speak her mind” and I haven’t changed all that much over the years, my political and creative passions are held in check by my “good girl” programming.

Often worrying I’ve said too much or offended someone somehow, I realize I’ve generally come to believe that the perpetual swirl of conflict and guilt is a natural part of articulating my passions and concerns, rather than a byproduct of patriarchal restriction.

When silence and speech both burn too much

So, speaking the truth around my own family was a minefield of contradiction. Taking a stand in public… Ooof.

Until sometime earlier this year, I was a writer who generally played it safe. As an entrepreneur who spoke to healers, it seemed smarter to merely whisper on the social and political sidelines. Offering a virtual thumbs up, I made the donations, signed the petitions, and occasionally shared the not-too-incendiary think pieces.

But time’s up on that approach. Each day, it’s increasingly impossible to ignore that we’re in the crucible and this nation really just might burn up as we merrily urge people toward the love and light.

These are the moments in which we get to decide if we are a democracy dedicated to a belief that the Constitution was intended to perpetually entrench the power of the white patriarchy or if “we the people” will be permitted to mean, you know, all the people.

As I know that countless activists and writers have felt before me, just as I decided to stand up, I’ve had that falling feeling you get when you miss a step coming down.

What does the shaking voice actually tell you?

It has taken dozens of hours and thousands of words to land on what I needed to say in this essay.

Stressed as I’ve been by the news and by trying to formulate astute, useful, in-the-moment responses to it and show up as a writer of books and a holder and healer of others’ stories, I wanted to say something that was best suited to the yoga mat: Heed the pain. If it hurts, modify or try a different pose.

I tried to get away with saying “oh, you creative, transformative soul, it’s ok to leave the reporting and the analysis to those better suited for the slog as long as you still care a lot and dedicate yourself to making something beautiful.”

But then, I remembered that the hardest and most profound spiritual lessons I have ever learned have been about the quest for non-duality. As above, so below. As within, so without. There is no separation between the sacred and the human, between us and them.

To declare yourself a writer, a creative, a healer who cares for the fate of the world but who chooses not to engage with the mess of the world in her art… That’s choosing to build your artist’s castle on privilege and lies.

There is no simple, comfortable answer to “what story to tell to what audience at what time in what tone” in complex, uncomfortable times like these. There is only perseverance and the compassion we can give to ourselves and each other as we raise our voices and tend the cracks and learn how to speak with more confidence and clarity each time.


Marisa Goudy is a story healer and writing coach with a passion for everyday creative magic. Currently, she’s working on a book project called Sovereignty Lessons which invites women to “free the princess, crown the queen, and embrace the wise woman.” Marisa is fascinated by the Irish Sovereignty Goddess and how her many expressions in myth and contemporary understanding can guide us through 21st century life through life. A graduate of Boston College’s Irish Studies program and recipient of an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama from University College Dublin, Marisa lives with her husband and daughters in New York’s Hudson Valley. Visit her website to sign up for the free community writing practices sessions she holds regularly and for the #7MagicWords challenges that she offers at the turn of each season. 

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5 replies

  1. So well written! Thank you. Karen


  2. Excellent piece, Marisa. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this paragraph: “To declare yourself a writer, a creative, a healer who cares for the fate of the world but who chooses not to engage with the mess of the world in her art… That’s choosing to build your artist’s castle on privilege and lies.”


  3. You’re right–it’s time to abandon being “good girls” and speak up, speak the truth, heal the pain our whole country seems to be feeling. Brava!!


  4. Like a good story-teller, you leave me with a question rather than a solution. The situations can be so slippery. The other day a neighbour and I got into a discussion about homelessness in our city. She “slid” right into a comment about how the First Nations (Native) People get all the perks and help. Leaves me spinning – like the responses to homelessness that begin with: “I got a job at 15 (or 12 or 18 or whatever age) and worked hard to get where I am today. Nobody helped me. etc etc” Some of us have wrinkled our spirit up like an old crumpled up dollar bill.


  5. So good to hear your voice here, there and everywhere. Right on, write on!


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