Speaking Up is More Refreshing than a Mojito on a Hot Day
I was having a problem. An energy problem. If you believe in chakras and other woo-woo things, my throat chakra had been closed for a long time. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, well any time I tried to say something important my throat muscles would tighten to the point I couldn’t breathe.
I studied classical voice (and broadway for a time) while in university. All of my professors said I was talented. I had a problem though- my voice. I was afraid to be heard and when I tried to sing (especially in front of an audience) I would get a painful pinch in my vocal chords or I would start gagging. I would gag from singing, yes. However no one could find anything wrong with me— not my professors or my doctor. I could have muscled through it I suppose, but ultimately I quit singing which is my biggest regret of all time.
But the problem got worse. I started having regular panic attacks, I was afraid to leave my house, tears— no matter the cause— rapidly escalated to a struggle for air, even brushing my teeth made me gag and on occasion puke. I could no longer hide what I had kept from myself for so long. I have been running and hiding for so long. When I was a child I hid in the library and in books. As an adult I moved cross country and then to another continent to run from the things that were haunting me.
I’ve never felt comfortable or safe speaking up, talking about my feeling, or expressing my needs. I’ve felt the opposite of comfortable. I spent my entire life saying the things I always thought other people wanted to hear and the real kicker is that I was never any good at it. I have been pushing aside my own needs for so long, a classic case of bottling everything up inside.
Every once in awhile my bottle would develop a little leak and I would hang my head submissively as I was shamed into stoppering it up again. And then one day, I couldn’t stopper it up anymore, the leak wouldn’t close. All the truth and feeling I had been holding inside exploded out of me. As we tell the 7 year olds at school, I had a volcano mouth.
When I was explaining the event to someone else she told me that no one likes to be silenced. It’s true. There are many ways you can silence a person: you can hang up on them, you can dismiss their opinions, you can verbally attack them, you can listen only to reply, you can ask them to keep their thoughts to themselves for fear of your own reputation. Whatever the case may be, know that when the person you have been silencing has had enough (and they will) that you are a part of the action.
I have lost so much from feeling unsafe to vocalize. I’ve lost the dream I had since I was three years old of being a professional musician. I have literally cried outside of La Scala knowing that any chance I might once have had of performing there has been taken from me.
However, finding and owning your voice has some powerful advantages as well:
- You find out who your real friends are. They’re the one’s who reach out and make sure you’re ok.
- You find out just how thick blood really is.
- You no longer have a cloud of unsaid things hanging over your head at all times.
- You learn to put your mental and spiritual health ahead of everything else.
- You learn communication skills that you can use in the future.
- You realize that you didn’t have anything to be afraid of.
- You can finally explore ideas in ways that you couldn’t when they were hidden.
- You realize what matters to you.
I believe that emotional issues left unresolved can manifest as physical ailments. Much of what we leave unsaid is to protect our own, or other’s reputations. I’m still learning to use my voice, hopefully the next time I have something pressing to say it will come out in a more productive way, but I am in no way sorry that I spoke up in the first place.