Listening to to the TED talk by Viv Gordon the woman, survivor, inspiration and activist (amongst many other potential labels of recognition and value that could be considered) this morning, I noticed the watery eyes emerge. This is not the first time Viv Gordon has spoken with courage and power in a way that brought me to tears!
I met Viv at A Disorder 4 Everyone in Cornwall a few weeks ago. At AD4E Viv offered spoken word, a medium I have not always found valuable. But that day spoken word came alive for me. Viv spoke to a story inside me and connected our shared narratives through her gift of spoken word. I found myself with gentle streams of water on my cheeks that day.
Viv sat down next to me after her spoken words at AD4E. I thanked her through my wet eyes and asked how she was going. I noticed she was emotional and a little shaky. She held my arm and we sat for a few minutes sharing a very powerful moment of connection in reflection of shared stories. Her power and strength in speaking to the room of people that day came deeply from within her own narratives. In the moment, I realised the gift she had really offered to me and others in the room that day came from her own vulnerability as well as power and strength. Her courage and vulnerability in sharing, offered deep connection to our many individual and shared stories. She offered the opportunity for me and others to step forward in narratives that may have existed only within ourselves, but could now be felt in connection with others. Viv had offered this gift by action of activism in her words.
Today I watched the TED talk by Viv through the same watery eyes. This time I noticed my sense of connection: “I know her”, I thought to myself. “She knows me”, I reflected to myself under my breath. When I heard the words in the Ted talk ‘Its not just me, It’s not just my story’, I felt the bigger spaces Viv talked about. When we share and explore the potential for Justice in a connection, and in action, the power of her activism, that began in Cornwall on two plastic chairs and has continued in me from my little office in Adelaide to the video of Viv rightly on the big stage in the UK, has become important in my life. I realised and experienced the feeling that running together is so much better than running away, as Viv points out in her talk.
As she called out the harm in mental health systems, the narratives in society that perpetuate and do not hold to account the rape of sexual abuse, Viv again evoked something special within me. I heard this in the spoken word of her story and her survivor activism, again. The wave of gratitude again swept over me, encouraging to step more into myself, my being and the permission, right and justice of being a survivor activist.
If you read this Viv – Thank you, thank you, thank you. I travelled to the UK last month, from Australia, for a variety of reasons. Hearing your message was one I had not anticipated, but one that will not be forgotten on my journey, and one that will provide justice in the permission it provided to me in my voice for change.