Thursday, July 14, 2016

Guest Post: Speak Your Silence

Hey you guysssss!!  Guess what?!  It's summer!  I know. Duh.  You're sweating as you read this and drink your iced tea.  Or your chilled wine, if you're off duty.  So, sweet drinker of mine, have another glass for me while I tell you that I have some really exciting news:
Today is my very first guest post ever and I am so thrilled to let you know that today's post is from Matt Pipkin, the founder of Speak Your Silence.  If you haven't heard of Speak Your Silence yet then today is your lucky day!  Matt is an incredibly brave and honest soul who decided to take his pain, and make something of it for the betterment of himself and others.  His non-profit is incredibly close to my heart, and I hope you find encouragement after you read his words.
Here's Matt:

I just love to see the transformation in a person’s life when they realize their worth.  It really changes everything, and it’s just so evident.
This was the case for me just a few years back.  I come from a fantastic family, so I always knew I was loved and that my folks were proud of me.  However, I grew up carrying a lie in my heart (although, I didn’t realize it at the time), which took a heavy toll for almost 20 years.
The lie was simple:  I’m bad.  
It almost feels silly to type it out.  But, it wasn’t silly.  It was very real.  And it went with me from age 6 through twenty-five.
I didn’t realize it in these terms at the time, but when I experienced success, I often didn’t feel like I deserved it.  But, when things went bad, I was quick to own it and blame myself.
This all changed a few years ago.  
I was a couple years out of college, feeling like a total failure (what a heavy word to own).  I’d lost and was continuing to lose a whole bunch of money during the 2008 real estate collapse, I was carrying a broken heart, and I was clueless of what I was good at or - more importantly - what to do with my life.  But worst of all, I was questioning what value I offered to the world.  
I was full of fear, stress, guilt, you name it.  And finally, this was about the time when I made a connection between what I was presently going through… and what I went through when I was 6.
I was sexually abused when I was a kid, and for the first time in my life, I was realizing that it had a deep impact on me.
It took some time, but I ended up sharing my story with my parents, which I’d been forever terrified to do, fearing I’d devastate them.  Not surprisingly, they overwhelmed me with love, as great parents do.
About a year later, I finally summoned the courage to go see a counselor.
I’m still somewhat shocked by the results, if I’m to be perfectly honest.  My counselor, Swede, changed my life.
I’d sought peace and refuge from fear – albeit, secretly – my entire life, and it’d never had staying power.  This was completely different.  This was a change at my core, something that can never be taken away from me.
The super secret sauce:  truth.
I grew up in church, experiencing panic attacks anytime I heard reference to that famous second half of a verse in 1 John in the Bible, “…the truth will set you free.”  Why?  Because my interpretation was:  “Matt, until you come clean and tell your parents what you did, you’ll never be free; you’ll be stuck in this prison of your own lies.”
But, obviously, I couldn’t tell because, if I did, my life would be ruined.  I was stuck.
However, through the process of counseling with Swede, one evening I had a revelation:  I’ve understood this verse backward my entire life.  I finally understood it to mean this:  “Matt, because you now know the truth about yourself – that you are infinitely valuable innately and no one, including yourself, can ever do anything to take away from this – you are now completely free.”
It couldn’t have been any simpler.  But, it changed my whole life.  
Today, I use my story to share this same life-changing truth with others who so desperately need it.  I founded a nonprofit called Speak Your Silence, which has a mission to conquer the stigma of child sexual abuse.  
Additionally, we make in-person, one-on-one counseling accessible nationwide for those directly affected by child sexual abuse.
One in 4 girls and one in 6 boys are sexually abused prior to their eighteenth birthday and most will never tell a soul.  It’s my firm belief that these stats won’t significantly change until the heavy social dynamics surrounding this whole issue change.
At Speak Your Silence, we're in the business of moving this weighted, taboo issue into an inspiring, empowering cause that we can all be excited to champion.
We accomplish this mission with our symbol, The Stitch, which looks like this:  /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\.  The Stitch is physically symbolic of your unique voice frequency when you wear it, demonstrating to those you love that they’re safe sharing the stories they have perhaps always feared sharing.

We launched The Stitch two years ago with The Stitch kit, and then last year expanded to offering a hand-made classic pocket tee line, featuring The Stitch hand sewn into each pocket.

The added bonus is that 100% of profits from The Stitch fund our counseling program.

The bottom line is that we’ve seen a lot of lives changed as a result of this very simple symbol.  Each person who wears it changes lives in their social circles in a way that we never could on our own… and this, collectively, changes things on a large scale.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of this problem, but I’d challenge you to take action to deliver truth to the life of just one person who needs it.  You can do this by wearing The Stitch and sharing it with just one person, whether they’ve been impact by our cause or not.

I tell you, there’s nothing better than seeing the impact that truth can have on a person’s life when they realize their innate worth. I hope you’ll be part of this work we’re doing.  ☺


Learn more about Speak Your Silence and our symbol, The Stitch.

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