Room to Roar
by Christa Gallopoulos
Be quiet. Just be quiet.
Don’t move a muscle, don’t say a word.
Children should be seen, not heard.
Did you say something? I didn’t think so.
Stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
The soundtrack of my youth. All this and more. Over and over, on constant replay.
There was no room for roaring.
My words, when I did squeak them out, were too scary for those around me – even at that young age. My ideas were far too preposterous, too out there, too much in so many ways, and so they were called lies. Until I learned to call them stories.
Until I learned about this thing we call “fiction.”
Because what is fiction, really, but the innermost thoughts and feelings and worlds we create within us when we feel that we couldn’t possibly know what we know? When we question the innate wisdom each of us arrives on this earth with, the knowledge that we bury in our young and see, when it resurfaces in our elderly after so many years, as eccentricity or the ramblings of an aging mind.
As a very young child, I spent hours and hours roaming the piney woods behind my house, learning to walk silently “like an Indian” and collecting artifacts, bits and bobs of nature left on the ground for me to collect, arrowheads buried long ago, feathers and bones left by the creatures of the forest. On the beach, too, I found shells and whelk egg cases and seaweed, along with the ubiquitous stones of the New England shore. All of these held clues, told stories, connected me to times long ago. I sat on the jetties, massive stones underneath my hands, listening what they had to tell me, taking it all in. As a little girl encased in fear both inside and out, there was so much comfort in these places – in the sky, the depth of the stars, the crackling of lightening and the deep rumbles of thunder. It made me want to roar, it really did – all of it. And yet I held it in, just as I held in the tears and the indignity, as my body was battered and my spirit beaten in so many ways.
When it was just too hard to stay where I was, my friends in the forest and the skies and the sea held me. They told me stories of how very special I was, what a light I held, how all this one day would end and that there was so much more for me, for us all. That I would explore the world, in time, that I would be more connected to this earth than I could imagine. That I would be loved. Mostly, I believed them. And still, I couldn’t say a word about it. Any mention of this part of my life was met with great anger, with physical punishment, with being told that I was crazy – that I’d be sent away to the loony bin if I talked like that. Clearly, a life of washing dishes and spraying Lysol and reading “real” books or watching the news, until I could become someone’s secretary and type all day would be a much better use of my time. They could not see me, poor souls, and so in time, I couldn’t see myself.
It would take a long time to undo all that binding up, all that learning to be quiet and contained.
It would be even longer before I would begin to roar.
It took half a century, with fits and starts and beginning and ends and yet here I am. A voice not only for myself, but for the ancestors, for the souls I interact with in so many capacities, for those still to come. Whether I am creating, journeying or healing, there is that roar – the one that wasn’t allowed to come to the surface for so long, now been freed up and there’s an incredible amount of both power and joy in allowing all these voices to rise. To invite people to remember who they have always been, to see how supported they are on many planes, to watch them expand and grow and weave their lives so beautifully and so fully is an absolute privilege – one worth well beyond the price paid.
And to allow myself that freedom, that expansion and joy is the greatest gift. These days, my heart is at home in the exquisitely beautiful place we call South Africa – a place, like my life, full of shadow and light. With so much room to roar. The child version of me knew, from her earliest days, that this would happen one day – that I would find home, that I would be welcomed and loved and that I’d fly free. She spent hours pouring over photos of the beautiful people and creatures and land there, visiting with her faraway friends. I guess she must have had much clearer vision than I did in the following decades. In any case, she knew what she knew and she didn’t let me completely forget.
What matters most is that, even on my very twisted, long and meandering path, I remembered. And listened along the way. To the stories, to the signs, to the very small voice inside me that remembered my own heart, as hard as that got sometimes. I kept myself safe – much too safe really, until I had the tools and the love and the support I needed to reconnect with that original knowing. Until it became impossible to be silent any longer. Until, in time, the words I eventually found wove a magic carpet that carried me home.
Home, to the place where I can roar.
Christa Gallopoulos is a creative, a healer and a guide. She is completing her memoir, All Better Bye and Bye, to be published in 2016. Christa believes that compassion for ourselves, and then for others, will heal the world, one person at a time.
You can find her words and images here, as she explores South Africa and beyond.
Want more roars? Find links to all the Roar Sessions posts here.