Sunday, November 29, 2020

Coming Out of the Trauma Closet


Remember back in 2019 when I said something had shifted


Shortly after that God gave me a message. Not an ominous, you-have-to-live-in-a-cave-now kind of message. More like a message that you think you dreamed every night, and every morning when you wake up, it feels a little more true.


God said that God was going to start opening doors for me. My job was to walk through each door boldly and bravely, with no regard for what was on the other side. 


And indeed, some doors started swinging open.


First, a woman named Lauren contacted me and said, "Your name keeps coming up in conversation and people tell me I should meet you. Can we get together for a networking coffee?" 


As Lauren and I sat over dinner at Nicky's Coal Fired, somehow the topic of life goals came up and I told her that mine was to give a TED talk.


"What would your topic be?" she asked. 


And although I had only known her for a few minutes, I began to share THE story with her. The only one I had that was so bold and so vulnerable that it might be worthy of the TED stage. It was hard to tell a stranger this story, but if I couldn't share it with Lauren here at Nicky's Coal Fired, how would I ever hope to share it with thousands of strangers from the stage? 


When I finished my story, Lauren's eyes were filled with compassion and tears. "That's your TED talk," she said. 


There is something special about Lauren and when she said that, I had a feeling it might be true. I heard the sound of a door beginning to creak open. 


Two weeks later, Lauren met Jeremy Snow, Speaker Chair for TEDx Nashville. "You need to meet Melanie Gao," she said. 


Two weeks later, I was on the phone with Jeremy. He asked me to share my story with him, and I shared A story. But not THE story. 


Because I didn't know him. I wasn't sure I could trust him. I wasn't sure I was really ready to take this plunge. 


In short, I chickened out. So I shared a smaller story.


Nonetheless, he was intrigued and asked me to write my story so he could share it with his committee. 


That Saturday one by one, all our family activities got canceled due to rain. So I sat down in my white chair to write my story for Jeremy. I started to write the one I had shared on the phone. The one that was interesting and somewhat vulnerable but not THE story. 


"I said boldly and bravely," I heard God's voice say. 


It was still my choice, and I chose obedience. Which is not like me. 


I erased everything I had written and instead I wrote THE story for Jeremy. And I closed my eyes and hit "SEND."  


And I waited.


It took Jeremy two weeks and an eternity to respond. But when he did, it was clear I had written the right story. He asked if I would be interested in presenting at TEDx Nashville Women's Conference in December 2020.


The door was swinging wide open. 


And then, well, 2020 happened. And I wondered if the door was going to swing shut again. Concerts and conferences were canceled. I thought there was no hope for TEDx Nashville 2020.


But the TEDx Nashville crew is an innovative and resilient bunch and they found a way.


And so here we go. 



I am trying hard not to think about what is on the other side of this door. That is not my job. When I do think about it, for a few seconds, I get nervous. Because I am coming out of the trauma closet. And once I'm out, there is no going back in. For me or for my family.




But it is not my job to worry about things like that.


My job is to walk boldly and bravely.


With no regard for what is on the other side.