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How I Found My Voice And You Can Too

Finding your voice and knowing its significance delivers ultimate freedom from self-constructed shackles.

by Lisa Bradburn

What if you grew up without a voice, devoid of decision-making power or lacking in the knowledge your opinion or desires mattered? What if you began to discover your voice in mid-life? Do you believe this equates to a life unfulfilled or one with an important story to tell?

I was and am that person. Here, I share intimate details of how I grew up unaware of my voice and how, through a series of trials and tribulations, I eventually found my authentic self and am here today to share my story with you.

EMDR Trauma Therapy As A Powerful Aid To Find My Voice

In the early fall of 2019, I dated a man for three months only to discover he was emotionally unavailable. The man, whom we’ll call Nick, showed no compassion when my dog was terminally ill, nor did he bother to look up from his laptop when I walked into the room. Something was severely lacking, and I felt familiar deep-rooted unhappiness.

Nick was one of several emotionally anorexic (a term I think is appropriate) men I dated since my late twenties. And after I parted ways with him, I was furious with myself for some time, my heart ached, and I fell into a depressive state.

After four months of suffering in silence, I sat on my couch one morning, looked out the condo window, and sought the answer. An image popped in my mind where the past had one common denominator running through it — me.

I was emotionally unavailable and continued to attract more of what I already knew. Even though I had been in therapy for eight years, and some strides had been made in particular areas of my life, there still existed a string of unresolved trauma. I felt the sensations in the deepest crevice of my stomach, the interior folds of my heart, and a persistent weight upon my shoulders, and finally a fogginess in my brain. Several unresolved traumas were triggering the described internal responses:

  • A biological teen mom who gave me up for adoption.

  • My adopted mom suffered from addiction.

  • My adopted dad was emotionally unavailable and self-focused.

  • Unresolved heartache from a lost love at age 27. (This was a big one).

  • My uncle Donald, a father figure, died of cancer. After his passing, I was at the center of a family fallout.

  • Front row seats to failed parental marriages (both adopted mom and dad are on their third).

My above shortlist only scratches the surface. All this to say, I was riddled with a lifetime of unresolved trauma, holding me back from living a life of freedom.

One of the ways I reacted to my challenges was by handing over power and control to men, traits I learned growing up by watching my adopted father always get his way or leave when he didn’t know how to cope with family issues — which was often.

No wonder I felt internal rage with myself witnessing the same cycle over and over. How could I let my behavior continue for more than twenty years? How can I evolve into a new way of being? Where did MY voice go?

In January 2020, I decided to start the new year with a bang and tackle my issues head-on, seeking deep healing from my past traumas.

Behavioral or Talk Therapy wasn’t working to the level I required. And even though I was in my third year of five studying Gestalt Psychotherapy and saw a psychotherapist weekly, I knew my challenges needed a laser-focused intense approach. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to sit with a Talk Therapist at sixty years old, rehashing the same old bullshit.

From that day forward, I embarked on a journey to fast-track trauma healing. I sought out a Toronto-based psychotherapist who specializes in EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.

The EMDR International Association describes my scenario with accuracy:

When distress from a disturbing event remains, the upsetting images, thoughts, and emotions may create feelings of overwhelm, of being back in that moment, or of being “frozen in time.” EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume. The experience is still remembered, but the fight, flight, or freeze response from the original event is resolved.

While the intent of my story is not to delve too deep into the intricacies of how EMDR desensitized my past trauma, if you’re interested in discovering more, I have provided below links exploring how the psychotherapy practice works.

What I want to stress is after ten sessions, I began to feel a massive shift inside my brain and body words cannot describe. Over time I noticed a sense of freedom from a painful past I had never experienced before. Only after EMDR therapy was I able to find the confidence to speak up for myself and begin the writers' journey.

Finding Purpose In Life

Once I was able to move past a lifetime littered with trauma, I recognized my age. Forty-five years old is halfway to ninety! And the last half better damn well be great! Herein lies my epiphany — if I spent the previous forty-five years caring far too much about what other people think, what would happen if I carried out the remainder of my life fulfilling personal passions without self-constructed barriers?

In March 2020, I decided to pursue writing as a side career to fulfill my childhood dream. At the onset of adulthood, distractions and follies got in the way, preventing me from becoming who I am supposed to be. Now, with the curtain lifted, I’ve given myself a new lease on life. Since my two passions are psychotherapy and coaching, today, I put my entire focus on crafting unique stories on the two topics, with the intent of inspiring others and sharing fresh points of view.

Today I am confident my voice has strength and value. There is no need for second-guessing or worrying about what other people may think. While not everyone will agree or appreciate my words, my writing will reach the right audience who can benefit from psychotherapy and coaching topics over time and with consistency. Now I’m excited about the future and have a greater purpose of leading me into the golden years.

Facing One’s Mortality Sparks Significant Change

The twenty and thirty-something version of me didn’t care a ton about my professional career, which started in project management. Work was simply a means to an end; I showed up yet wasn’t fully present. My existence in the corporate world was based purely on a transactional mode of operating. I arrived in some low-grade form, performed many tasks, received a paycheque to party hard, attend charity galas, or take trips. Everything was based on pleasure and centered on outward appearance rather than focusing on deep transformational work.

No wonder I lacked a voice in my career because the act of having one wasn’t a high priority. Because my scattered attention focused on the follies of this world, I didn’t move ahead and remained stagnant for some time.

Everything changed for me after my uncle Donald passed in 2014. Here was a man I was close to who lived life bound by his restrictions. Donald had dreams of driving the Alaska highway. He wanted to restore the family farm to the beauty and charm of the way it was in his childhood. Another of Donald’s fantasies was to showcase his antique Allis-Chalmers tractor collection in a museum. None of my uncle’s desires came to pass. As much as I loved him, I witnessed firsthand an unrealized life. Seeing all the talk, no action, and inner stuckness had a massive impact on me. While being Donald’s caregiver assisting him to the end of his days, I discovered my mortality and saw my deficiencies.

While at the time, it felt easy to judge Donald, I eventually saw how my constructs held me back and came to a firm decision to put all my energy into my career, making space for joy and contentment; and reclaim my voice.

I Have Stories To Tell

When I was fourteen years old, my Dad was in the middle of his second failing marriage. We downgraded from a big farmhouse to a trailer park, my room the size of a closet. I was devastated, embarrassed, and felt above living in a trailer. One day at school, I snuck down to the local variety store and bought the recent copy of Vogue because of the high-end appeal.

That night in my tiny closet, I took out the coveted copy of Vogue and soaked in each page, enthralled by the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Remember, this is 1992, before the internet age. I made an oath to myself to always live an elevated life, one based on unrealistic splashy marketing campaigns with supermodels. In my twenties and thirties, I chased the dream of living an extraordinary life, and in many ways, I did fly high.

If we recall the story of Icarus, whose wings were made of wax and melted when he rose too close to the sun, I too crashed and burned back down to earth. While I was a late bloomer and didn’t calm my lifestyle until my early forties, today, I see my teenage oath in a different light. Rather than living a life in elevation (whatever that means), I’ve shifted my intent to lead a life with purpose — while never forgoing adventure and simple moments of joy.

With the advent of social media, I see some youth in the generations before me striving for instant fame and recognition in unimaginable and destructive ways. While I embodied an earlier version of this behavior and am living testimony of the emptiness these choices bring, I have stories to tell. Maybe my words will touch the soul of another struggling with self-confidence. Perhaps my voice can be used for the greater good to shape new perspectives and outcomes. There must be hope.

To Conclude

In my late thirties and forties, I underwent a period of significant transformational change, a necessary evolution to find and use my voice. While the process continues even today, I feel a level of contentment, peace, and freedom I had never imagined. Many ah-ha moments led me to a peaceful path, discovering my being emotionally unavailable and attracting what I knew best, understanding my mortality, and wanting a better life for myself.

Finding our voice takes time. It is, as we say in Gestalt Psychotherapy — “everything is a process.” And once you find your voice and understand its significance, there is no holding you back.

If you are interested in delving into the specifics of EMDR therapy:

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