Speak + Light the Way | Week 42 | Confidence Revolution
Zainab Salbi is an author, women's rights activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and in 2002 became the founder of Women for Women International (a non-profit organization that provides support to women survivors of war.) And in 2015 she took her platform an expanded it by launching Nida’a Show, a talk show dedicated to inspire women in the Arab world. Sounds awesome, right?
Well, her story wasn’t always as bright and shiny.
In 1969 Salbi was born to Saudi Arabian to parents and when she was 11 years old her dad, Tariq, was chosen to be Saddam Hussein’s pilot. This relationship, as you can imagine, put her family in an emotionally abusive situation. But one doesn’t just leave Saddam Hussein.
After her teenage years and as Zainab became a young women, her mother began to fear for her daughter’s life (Saddam took what and who he wanted) and so her mother shipped her off to the US as part of an arranged marriage. And after three months of suffering physical and emotional abuse from her husband, with only $400 to her name, she left to start a life of her own.
But when she arrived in the US (1988) – Zainab was ashamed to tell anyone who she was. Albeit negative, she had a direct link to Saddam Hussein. For perspective, in 1988 Saddam Hussein had just begun the genocide of their countrymen who were Kurdish. He was imprisoning, torturing and murdering people – and Zainab’s dad was his pilot - which engulfed her in shame.
At some point she realized, for her own sanity, she had to tell her story and heal, and the results surprised her.
She noted how when she did, she was met with love, empathy and compassion. And that undoubtedly, each woman she told had a shame story of their own. Something that was hindering them from moving forward.
Salbi also noticed that once she and each of these women had the courage to break their silence and step out of their own shame -- that each person became like a candle – lighting the way for others – a hope giving of sorts.
Guys, I have been writing and speaking my truth for 6 years - I have shared some doozies with you and have shared even more with those closest to me. And in 6 years of honoring my truth – I have NEVER been met with, “That’s so weird, I’ve never heard of that!” I’ve ALWAYS been met with, “Oh, really? I didn’t know you were going through that – I ALSO went through something similar,” or “My friend went through that too,” and sometimes it’s just a plain and simple, “me too.”
And after I break my silence, I feel lighter, more connected and stronger for walking through it.
Maybe you have credit card debt and can’t afford the purse you carry, maybe you owe the bank money, maybe you are an alcoholic, maybe you experienced abuse growing up, maybe you lead a life you’re not proud of and you’re afraid that when people find out who YOU REALLY ARE – that they won’t love you.
I’m here to tell you, that if they’re worth having around, they will.
I’m here to tell you that breaking your silence and sharing your story creates connection and gives hope to those who share in your pain. (Not to mention giving you hope!)
What you do with your story is a choice – and what a wonderful choice to OWN IT – to create your own ending.
love and grace, catia
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