Having lost my voice many years ago…in between the years of trying to fit in with everyone else’s views and society’s bullish ways, I embraced silence. I embraced it so much that a 3-day retreat of no talking felt like paradise and the want to do it every year is something I have fought off continuously.
But there’s a problem. Well, there are many problems but embracing silence in this way has created a specific problem. If I had never been a talker, this embrace would have been normal. I had learned to go from full-on rattling on to complete silence with very little balance. Talking had become an effort. A seriously real effort. And if I could sit in silence all day I would. Can one become addicted to not talking? (Asking for a friend).
After accepting that this may not be a good thing for oneself, I embarked on a many-year journey (subconsciously if I’m being honest) to understand what happened to my voice. To be clear, nothing had physically happened to my voice. It still exists, still gets used in safe spaces, and when forcefully required. But I constantly feel a need to apologize for speaking. Imagine that? (This rhetoric question is oozed with sarcasm as I’m pretty convinced a number of people can relate). And this is the part that makes this whole not talking situation not normal. It’s less about not talking and more about always feeling the need to apologise for it.
Something happens when one loses their voice or will to talk. In my case, I had never felt heard so stopped talking as it seemed like a waste of time and effort. My natural disposition however is to question and debate because this is how I learn and how I grow to understand people and situations thus not talking created an internal battle that for many years I couldn’t put my finger on.
Something felt off but I couldn’t tell what (see what I did there…).
And more recently as the situations I’m in require me to express myself, the internal battle has swapped sides on who’s winning the war, and speaking up has become a must-do as opposed to a maybe one day. But it still feels too much out of my comfort zone. Until now. One situation led to another, and out of pure frustration I booked myself into a one-night stay at some hotel with a spa treatment to follow. And proceeded to not make a big deal of it by telling no one. Well, I had to tell one person for safety reasons. Grudgingly I informed them weeks prior and never mentioned it again.
Then it dawned on me. This was a form of me speaking up. A form of me talking and because I have a strong view of believing actions rather than words, it was the loudest voice I was shouting in. Effectively saying, “Screw the world, I’ll take care of myself” because that’s how I felt. And that’s what I wanted to say in that moment. But yelling it was pointless. Action spoke louder and greater than a book of words ever could. I felt calmer; the internal battle called off as both sides waved white flags in surrender. Neither had won, I hadn’t spoken up nor was I silent. I had just found other means to express what I needed to.
Then something else happened once I came to this understanding. Using my voice became just a little easier. The feeling of calm had become my point of reference and to want to get back to this place when I’m away from it, I’ve seen that expressing what’s on my mind is the answer. The means to do this however does not always have to be with speaking. Sometimes it’s writing, actions or oddly enough it even shows up as listening.
Finding my voice didn’t mean needing to get loud or verbally speaking up all the time. It also didn’t mean it only needed to happen when there was a not so nice emotion. Finding my voice was also about expressing the more positive emotions or feelings that sat within, the voice that used to eagerly want to jump for joy but did so internally so as not to be noticeable.
Sometimes it requires action without words.
Sometimes it means listening intentionally.
And sometimes it just means showing up.