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Holding Hands with Sara Bareilles: Say What You Want to Say

by | Jul 2, 2020 | Articles, Emotional Abuse, Sara Bareilles, Survivor Identity, Waking Up | 14 comments

Why You Don’t Say What You Want to Say

As a child I had to be careful. If I made the wrong move, I would be pointed out and identified as an outlier. In school I didn’t wear the right tennis shoes (first Adidas – and then Nikes) or Jeans (Girbaud anyone?) I wore large, thick rimmed glasses and preached the coming of Jesus Christ because I was terrified that all the people in my class were going straight to hell.

At home there were untold numbers of rules and regulations so as not to mess up our beautiful, clean home. As I got older, there were more rules involving my time with friends and activities outside the home. It was all limited.

At church if I answered all the questions correctly, my Sunday School teachers enjoyed me. But my peers did not.

I had to be careful, but I wasn’t, and that made me an easy target sometimes.

I thought it was normal to live like that. Kids don’t know anything other than their limited life experience, so most just settle in and make the best of whatever life offers them. Some grow up to throw off their childhood experience, but I grew up truly appreciating all the good in my life. I argued the bad and embraced the good and was cheerful for the most part. It didn’t hurt that I had an incredible imagination and lived comfortably in it when things got boring or painful.

Looking back, I now acknowledge that I had nightmares almost every single night. Horrible, violent, gut wrenching nightmares that left me terrified to sleep many nights.

I now acknowledge that I was verbally and emotionally and physically abused by my peers and some members of my family. I learned to avoid it by keeping my head down, but I wasn’t always successful. I’m an INFJ (Meyers Briggs), so it is embedded in my personality to fight for truth and justice while also deeply desiring peace and close relationships. And I was able to achieve that joy in college. Until I turned 50, those four years were the happiest years of my life.

All the humans fascinated me. Old, young, beautiful, ugly, interesting, dull, kind, mean. I noticed that even people who were nasty could be wonderful sometimes. That fascinated me. It confused me. I wanted to be on the receiving end of their amazing, creative, fun personalities. I wanted to be part of their energy when they were at their best. I wanted to be someone who could draw that out of them and help them explode into all their potential.

I felt deep in my bones that I could see everyone’s true potential even if they could not. And I felt this for myself as well.

I was a visionary. Forgiving. Resilient. Driven. Empathic. A dreamer – but also a person who could make things happen when I was free to do so. And when I was not free, I dreamed of freedom.

Meeting Sara Bareilles

I was alone in bed when I met Sara Bareilles for the first time. I’m not sure how I stumbled on her music video for Brave on YouTube, but there it was. I was 48 and newly separated from my husband of 22 years. There was very little I appreciated about myself by that time. I was an ugly, stupid, ungodly failure taking up space in the universe. My name was Shame.

But this song – it gripped me. Like, every single cell in my body felt electrocuted. On fire. Alive.

I saw human beings of all ages, shapes, and colors smiling and dancing with utter abandon. It was a picture of childlike vulnerability and freedom. I was captivated.

As I watched, something cracked deep inside of my body, and it began to involuntarily shake and sob. I curled up in a ball in that bed and felt. I just felt all the feelings and couldn’t stop feeling them. I didn’t want to stop feeling them.

Inside of me was a little girl who danced. But I realized in that moment that I had pushed her in a closet and locked the door. For years, she had been quietly holding all of my essence in that small, dark space. Yearning. Waiting.

And in that song, Sara reached through space and took held my hand as I unlocked that door.

Blinding energy exploded all around me as all of the essence my Creator put inside me was released. Amazing grace. Once I was blind, but now I see.

I had lived so many years not saying what I wanted to say because I wasn’t sure what that was. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be. So I limited myself to saying only what I knew would be accepted and approved of in my circles.

My universe wasn’t mine anymore. All the humans were living in and controlling my mind and body. I was living in a universe with ugly graffiti words spray painted on every wall, and no matter which way I looked, that’s what I saw. That’s what I came to believe.

Until Sara pointed me to the closet where that little me with my package of essence was waiting, and I let myself out.

Boom.

What You Say Matters

This is the human experience. Not just mine. All of us come into this world with incredible gifts and a blank book just waiting for us to write our story in. What will our story tell? Our Creator put infinite potential into our DNA.

He put us here to change the world, not with hate for ourselves and others. Not with power over others. Not by controlling all the universes that belong to others. But we are here to change the world with our essence. With love. With freedom. With kindness. With humility. With openness. With abandonment.

We are children of our Creator, and I believe that Creator is all of the good things He created us to lean into and change the world with. Are children meant to hide and weep in agony? Are they meant to be used and abused and abandoned?

No. Children are made to be free. And in this world we live in, that takes being BRAVE.

Sara, you pulled me out of that closet because you wanted to see me be brave.

Thank you, Sara. I now say whatever the hell I want to say. With love and joy and freedom.

My name is Brave.

Fly Free,

Natalie Hoffman

P.S. This is the first of a series of articles where I hope to tell my own story of getting away from emotional and spiritual abuse using Sara’s songs as my backdrop. Her music walked me all the way through, and I believe she will hold your hand in the same way she has held mine.

Brave

You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Innocence, your history of silence
Won’t do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I wanna see you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
See you be brave

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you

I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you
I just wanna see you

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Jack Antonoff / Sara Bareilles

Brave lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

14 Comments

  1. Carolyn Grossman Strong

    Natalie, I began to weep as I saw the college library and the mall, remembering who I once was over 30 years ago. I was brave, beautifully confident, embracing life. When I walked in a room, I knew I felt good & right. In my marriage, this hasn’t been the case, rather I’m riddled with shame & fear. I realize that I have given my power and my life to a person who has trampled on my heart. I can choose to be brave again. Thank you ❤️

    Reply
  2. Faith

    Natalie, you are an inspiration. So thankful that through the dark days you are giving us all hope to get our voices back, be brave and stand tall. It can’t be easy for you as you still have things to deal with as a fall out from what you have been through. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your experience so openly so that we my all learn too. Love Faith (UK) x

    Reply
  3. shelly FULLERTON

    Oh my gosh. Tears. I had several of my voice students sing this a few years ago. Great anthem for young girls growing up. But your beautiful post had me listening to it again for ME this time. It hit me the price I pay for my silence. But it doesn’t make me safe and It doesn’t bring freedom!! Thank you dear Natalie for this powerful reminder.! Thank the Lord you found your brave!

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I’m so glad it created a shift within you, Shelly. Now it’s your turn!

      Reply
  4. Gail Marie Gil

    OMG, this made me cry, but I love it so much! Everything about it strikes a chord with me, too. I feel like my whole life I’ve been contained and couldn’t get out. But something happened right after I turned 60. I was at a wedding with my husband, who never wanted to dance with me. When the music started, I just got up and started dancing by myself, and I danced until the band packed up. That was the beginning of my “brave.” Fast forward 5 years…I am now out of my abusive marriage, and all I want to do is dance!

    Reply
      • Shannon Pickard

        Thank you for sharing your words and this song!

        This made me cry too! And then I had to dance!

        I had been thinking earlier today that I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere anymore. Because I’m starting to be my true self and say what I want to say I no longer squeeze and contort myself to be who others want me to be.

        Your words and this song came at the perfect time! I feel like God is saying to me “I wanna see you be brave! Say what you want to say! Do what you want to do! Be who I truly made you to be!”

        I absolutely love to dance and would dance with wild abandon at parties to the delight of everyone but I stopped after my husband humiliated me for dancing joyfully in our home our first year of marriage, 11 years ago.

        But I am going to start being my weird, unique uninhibited self again. I am an INFP. I radically unschool my kids, I recently joined the Eastern Orthodox Church. I like to dance like a wild child and sometimes I swear. I am absolutely on fire to learn about anti racism and help dismantle White Supremacy. I am learning to eat intuitively and absolutely refuse to diet ever again and believe fat people are beautiful. I support protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. I believe abortion is murder but that supporting poor mothers is the best way to prevent abortions…
        And now I want to fight like hell for the Liberation of all people!

        I don’t fit into any category. I don’t fit into any group of people. When I speak up I make others uncomfortable. My family and friends are “concerned”. But I don’t care anymore! I am going to continue being me!

        Reply
  5. Stacey Hanrahan

    Beautiful. Tears. ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Hi Natalie, I just want to say thank you so much for your posts and the work you do. I am in the process of getting away from an abusive marriage, and I have gotten so much comfort and reassurance from things you and others have written. I am a nerd and also a feeler (INFP) and find that music is helping me a lot right now. I am creating a whole playlist of songs that speak to me in this time and Brave is one of them. Everything from George Michael to Tracie Chapman. I listen to them to find some joy and to remember who I used to be before the abuse. Again, thank you. I am on the waiting list for your group opening up in October. I am planning to be flying free by then!

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      Music is a great healer from God! Can’t wait to see you in the group!

      Reply
      • Belinda Brown

        Hi Natalie! Thank you for sharing this part of your story! I was 48 when I moved out from my abusive marriage of 21 yrs. I am 52 now I have always liked this song but, never watched the video and love how it was the thing that helped you be brave! It is so hard to be brave! Ha! Love u much! Belinda❤

        Reply
  7. Susan Cooke

    Excellent timing of this article for me. I have been in counseling a month and this week she gently shared her concerns that I am masking a lot of feelings. I agreed with her. A month is not enough time for me to be brave with her.

    I am getting brave with some other people in my life and they have told me how happy they are that I am doing so. Someone even heard a little bit of anger from me and she was delighted as she has been waiting for me to get angry.

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      Wonderful! Feelings can be scary at first – but they are from GOD, and they are so important in life. They help us with self-awareness which is critical for healing. Keep going!

      Reply

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