Recently, I came across Audre Lorde’s Questionnaire to Oneself. Of the four questions, all of which are interesting and thought-provoking, it’s number three that really gets me: What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? [List as many as necessary today. Then write a new list tomorrow. And the day after.]

The tyrannies you swallow day by day…think about it. All the things that feel wrong. Sometimes a little wrong, like a pebble in one’s shoe that we try to ignore. Sometimes big wrong, like staying silent when offensive words are spoken, when actions are taken, when it’s assumed that you should just go along and be okay.

Why isn’t it enough to say, no, this is not right for me? What are we so afraid of? Of upsetting friends and family? Of rocking the boat a bit and changing the rules? What has us playing small?

I say that staying silent is self-tyranny. It’s saying that the needs and wants and convictions of others have more validity or merit. It is saying that I don’t matter, that I’ll take the crumbs at the end of the meal.

Hell no!

Every life is valuable. And it’s time to stop trying to make the thoughts and feelings and convictions of others our own. It’s time to step into our own lives. Fully. And speak. And write. And share.

I include here, in its entirety one of my favorite of Audre Lorde’s poems:

A Woman Speaks

Moon marked and touched by sun   

my magic is unwritten

but when the sea turns back

it will leave my shape behind.   

I seek no favor

untouched by blood

unrelenting as the curse of love   

permanent as my errors

or my pride

I do not mix

love with pity

nor hate with scorn

and if you would know me

look into the entrails of Uranus   

where the restless oceans pound.

I do not dwell

within my birth nor my divinities   

who am ageless and half-grown   

and still seeking

my sisters

witches in Dahomey

wear me inside their coiled cloths   

as our mother did


I have been woman

for a long time

beware my smile

I am treacherous with old magic   

and the noon’s new fury

with all your wide futures   


I am


and not white.

Published by Musings

Certified Life Coach Certified Nutritionist Certified Yoga Instructor Certified Naturopath

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