Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the charity Heads On (Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust), supporting people with mental health problems across Sussex and beyond.
The Silent Scream anthology is a collection of raw, honest and inspirational memoirs, anecdotes, poems, art works and photography about a range of topics including eating disorders, self-harm, childhood sexual abuse, rape, addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD and generally feeling worthless in a society demanding perfection.
Anyone being consumed by their pain and suffering will understand the need to be heard, the need to have their feelings acknowledged and validated, to know that they are not alone in the swirling chaos of their rage, grief and fears, which we mask behind our smile as we make our way through the world. Yet, paradoxically, it seems the hardest thing to do at times; to give voice to our struggles, our feelings, our fleeting moments of madness for fear of being judged, ashamed and embarrassed by our imperfections. And so, we remain trapped in those silent screams, continually feeding our deepest fears about ourselves; that we are not worthy, berating ourselves and internalising our trauma, becoming disconnected and isolated in our experiences.
But when we cannot find a way of telling our story, our story begins to tell us. We develop symptoms, habits- addictions even, behaviours that we don't understand, the truth of our pain working its way to the surface through any means possible, giving expression to the silent scream inside. But until we can live more consciously, away from the masks and less through the ego, we will never be free from our destructive patterns or our negative self- talk which perpetuates our feelings of unworthiness.
Many of us as children were invisible: forced to conform, blend in, shut down and silenced. We were expected to speak only when spoken to, shamed for being too quiet and too loud. We were chastised when "answering back" or - as was really the case - for daring to express our thoughts and emotions.
We learned to stuff down the feelings that were too uncomfortable to bear and suppress our true essence and the whispers of our soul.
We grew into wounded adults, self-medicating with food, alcohol, shopping, sex, co-dependent relationships and addiction to numb the pain and our 'not-enoughness'. We became masters of betrayal, keeping up appearances to hide the depth of our suffering inside. We remain silent, too afraid to be seem as anything less than perfect.
We can change this.
More men and women are ripping off their mask and allowing themselves to be seen, as their beautifully messy perfectly imperfect selves. We're unlearning old conditioning and finally finding AND setting our voice - our values, our truth, our emotions and whispers of our soul - free.
We're letting the world know that our voices matter, that WE matter, leaving a greater legacy of truth and authenticity for our children, giving our children permission to be true to themselves. It starts with exposing our wounds, releasing our trauma, shining light on our darkness, and ultimately allowing ourselves and our children every spectrum of emotion. Feeling is healing, and when we allow ourselves to feel, we allow ourselves to heal. The more that we step up and shed the layers of social, cultural and familial conditioning, the more we learn to trust ourselves and our true inner voice and the more we live from our heart-space, the greater the ripple of change. And that is what The Silent Scream is about.
No one need suffer in silence. And using the power of story, imagery and anecdotes we have a very clear message: you are not alone.
Maria Alferi is an English teacher and mother of four. She spent eighteen months out in communities world-wide - reaching out to people, empowering them to find their voices, and help tell their stories in the hope of shedding light on the importance of stepping away from shame and speaking up. The resulting book, The Silent Scream, provides 70+ stories, poems, and quotations from over 40 contributors. www.MariaAlfieri.com