“What do you have to lose?”, her partner asked.
Maddie Morris had been thinking about contacting me for a while. She wanted to say she’d been comforted by the podcast and my writing about “the second wound”. She might even offer to be a guest on the podcast, Truth & Consequences. But Maddie hadn’t decided. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to take the risk. That is, until her partner posed this question.
Maddie sat with it a while. Probably, the worst that could happen was that she would get no response. Maddie knew she could handle that. She’d already lived through so much worse.
In February of this year, Maddie emailed me. She wrote briefly about her own traumatic background and warmly thanked me for the podcast and my work. She also included a link. And when I opened it–and watched a video of Maddie performing an original song for the 2019 BBC Young Folk Awards–I became her fan.
Maddie is a tremendously gifted musician. Her song, Where Do We Go From Here captures the familiar, brutal everyday oppression that so many of us know firsthand. She explains in the video that just that week, her apartment’s kitchen had been flooded. She was living in a centimeter of water due to an obvious leak and when she showed her landlord, he told her the water came from “condensation”. Because he claimed authority, Maddie felt pressured to accept his ridiculous denial of the problem. One that he was responsible to fix. Maddie wrote the song, she says in the video, in part about “that feeling of powerlessness on the basis of gender”.
Maddie won the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award for this song and performance, and she 100% deserved it. When I listened, the song and Maddie’s voice pulled me in and moved me and I wrote right back to tell her so. Soon after, we recorded a lively podcast interview that I can’t wait for you all to hear.
But, there’s still more to this story. A few days after I emailed a copy of our edited interview to Maddie so she could hear it before it’s release, she sent me a recording in return. She’d written a song called *Consiquences. It captured her feelings about our podcast conversation, the friendship we were forming, and the pasts that connected us. After I opened Maddie’s email, I pressed play on the recording and asked my husband to sit down next to me. We both teared up as we listened to Maddie’s beautiful voice and poignant words. When it was over, Adam lay his head on my shoulder and just breathed the word, “Wow.” My thoughts exactly.
There is so much value in knowing we are not alone. It makes all the difference to witness that the deepest, most personal pains we have suffered, no matter how unique they may feel, are shared by others. People who can articulate what we might not yet understand, who know without explanation what we carry around with us. It’s the whole point of the work I do and I think the same is true for Maddie. Helping others also helps us heal.
It’s one reason Maddie’s music is so powerful. It resonates because she writes and sings with a vulnerability that reaches out and pulls us close, comforted and safe in our struggles. Connected across time, space, and oceans.
It’s brave of Maddie to put herself out there this way, especially at the age of 22. An award-winning kind of courage that pays off for her. And for all of us. I can’t wait for you to meet Mattie. I’m so glad I did.
*Hear the interview with Maddie Morris and song Consequences on the Truth and Consequences Podcast Season 3, Episode 1: Maddie & Me