The other speaker wanted to go first (having early dinner reservations), which I was just fine with, because a) I'd never done this before and b) I hadn't even practiced a speech, so I really wanted to model my format on hers. So the person from BARCC went up and discussed rape and sexual assault as concepts/in general. Then the other speaker got up and told her story... and got like three questions. Then I got up.
I wrote up a speech this afternoon... but I discarded it because it sounded Speechy. Instead, I pretty much just had the folded paper as a fidget/comfort object. I got up there and looked out at the Lots of People, and... started talking.
I did hit all of the points I'd felt I would need to hit. I did not stammer much. I was open and showed the naked emotion behind it without going into an amount of detail that would've been cruel to the audience.
(I did make people cry.)
And then I opened it up to questions. And... I was taking questions for a *while*. I didn't keep count... but a while. Some very good questions. Some I was prepared for, some I wasn't. I answered every one (we don't have to; it's okay to demur when uncomfortable - but I was okay with all of the questions). marmota observed that I was more in my element when answering questions.
Me: "Well, my public speaking's all been done at SF cons. Panel discussions and Q & A, I can do!"
marmota: "It just seemed like.. before, you were speaking from memory and from your speech. When you were answering questions, you were more you."
Me: "The girl who was raped thirteen years ago and the me you know are two very different people..."
And this really brought that out in sharp relief, I think. I have come so far. I do not call myself a phoenix for nothing. I was destroyed, lo those many years ago. And as I said tonight, I fought my way back. I fought for every inch of this.
Phew. Wow. Yes. That was intense.
And the speechgiving part was scary. I'm not used to being quite that emotionally open with people I don't know. Let alone when it's a room full of people I don't know. And I'm on stage. Literally on stage. Without even a podium to hold onto.
But Q & A, I can do.
I did have a few kids come up to me afterward to thank me. I did have one disclose to me.
This was... very powerful,and very positive. And I feel a lot more secure about doing it again. (In two weeks.)
Woo. Holy crap. Yep. I just did that.