This post was inspired by the people of Uganda, but I’ll write from my own perspective. I can research their stories and read their words, but I can’t speak for them. I can’t speak for anyone but myself.
I would cringe if somebody else tried to tell my story. The truth is, it can sometimes take me some time and struggle to come up with the words to tell it myself, so I don’t see how anyone else could expect to do it.
And I’m not waiting for anyone else to do it. I’m not waiting for a prince to ride up on a white horse. No, if someone’s gonna get a pony ride out of my journey, it damn well better be me. I am not voiceless or hopeless. I never have been, not even in my silence, not even in my darkest days. My story is mine to tell, when I want to tell it, how I want to tell it. My healing journey is mine to take.
That doesn’t mean I don’t find support useful. There are times when I need to reach out for help, but it’s me doing the reaching, asking for the kind of help I need. It’s not about the person I’m asking for help. I’m not here to let you feel like a savior, to erase the guilt that comes with your privilege, to help you get rich or justify your call for violence.
If you need to simplify my story, you’re telling it wrong. If you’re looking for the villain and the victim, you’re missing something. And if you think it’s crucial to get my story heard by any means necessary, even if it means without my voice, or against my wishes, or by presenting an altered, incomplete truth, then you’re silencing me, not saving me.
I don’t need you to save me. I don’t need you to peer in from the outside to tell me what’s best for me. I can speak for myself. And I’m not the only one. So if you want to support me, listen to me, and I’ll tell you what I need. Don’t go believing what you hear of my story unless you hear it from me.