In the middle of June 2017, I took the big brave step of joining not only a facebook group, but a woman only facebook group. Let me explain why it was such a huge step for me.

I never felt comfortable in groups, especially with women. I had endured a childhood of abuse and my family was a place of conflict and discomfort. My mother ruled with her wrath. I then had her, my family and friends outcast me due to my sexuality. I withdrew from anything that ever remotely resembled a family or group gathering. It felt better to be alone and silent than ever going through the loss of being outcast again.

I felt inferior and it was a battle to introduce myself to a thousand women members. I feared being judged, criticised and outcast yet again. I kept fearing they would alienate me for being a gay woman.

It took months to finally find a voice and show myself. I realised that I had a place in this group and I was valued.

From that point I took the next step of opening my own group, but still I cowered at the idea of leading a group and whether they would attack or over power me.

After some months, I really found my strength and inner power and was able to lead my group ‘Voice Your Power’. However, there was always this ‘Imposter syndrome voice’ screaming in the background. I doubted my decisions, my content and my self-worth.

Always feeling that I wasn’t the best person for the job! I just couldn’t get a financially viable online business off the ground. After hitting rock bottom and putting my group on hold, I found employment again.  It took months of building confidence, self-acceptance and worth to find my voice, stronger than ever. In that, came the vision to open a new group which was an idea I had been wanting to implement for years but just never knew how.

Something that absolutely terrified me and I knew would not be accepted by the masses. What I knew was that it would speak to so many people who were suffering in silence.

Here I sat, weeks before the Festive Season hit full force and I felt pushed to be the voice for those who were silent and open a group they could belong to. A safe, supportive and inclusive space away from the maddening Christmas hype and mania.

And so, the group, Hidden Voices, was born. It speaks to those who feel outcast, lonely and in despair. Those who have been shunned by family, suffered losses, divorce and in no way feel the happy vibe of the Christmas season. They feel deep shame to acknowledge that for them they don’t feel Christmas cheer as expected.

They see through the illusion and pretense of family gatherings.  They don’t want to be forced to partake in Christmas lunches and dinners with people who they don’t want to spend time with. Being alone feels easier than being in forced situations with no escape.

As work slows down, together with their regular weekly activities winding down, so do their stress levels and anxiety increase. The emptiness and pain within just gets louder and louder.

In all my years I always wished for a group that I now have created. A group where there was a sense of belonging, safety and solace.

A group that gave me what I found in my first group I had joined, but over the Festive season.

It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge that one doesn’t feel at ease with Christmas or with your family. It is not a popular notion. Not one that is celebrated but highly frowned upon. It breaks the rules of conditioning and the status quo. You are expected to believe that ‘blood is thicker than water’, that family should be your priority and no matter what, you stick together.

But what if they abuse you, what if they are not your ‘real’ tribe? What if they are toxic and harmful to you? What if…

Are you expected to suffer in silence or is it better to find a tribe who understand, celebrate and allow you to be exactly who you are?

This is such an area of taboo that we just don’t know how huge an issue it really is. It is a can of worms that needs to be opened, spoken about so that we don’t lose more lives to suicide and depression this year!!

In finding my first group in 2017, it changed my lease on life. It changed my life. For the first time I felt accepted, loved and worthy and this is how everyone should feel.

It is time for the silent voices to find safety to speak and come out of hiding! To be celebrated for being different and allowed to be who they truly are!