Losing my voice
When I was younger I use to love to sing. I would sing to every song that came on the radio, although the occasional heavy rock song would be a struggle for my voice. Somehow I just could not manage to accomplish the heavy growl, screech, or scream that was much needed to go with the electric guitars in the background. I did, however, find that my voice seemed to resonate well with gospel music or soft ballads. I would sing in the shower (don’t we all), I would sing on the way to and from school, and most often just in my bedroom. I would sing in the car with my mom, I would sing with my friends when they came over, I would sing with my sisters, and quite often I would sing to my beloved pets (they always were very supportive and listened quite well.)
At one point I had envisioned making my own album. When I told a friend of mine this detail, they put me into contact with someone who had a recording studio in their home. My older sister and I talked about doing this together, so much practice was needed. We would sing together quite often as we would try to learn to blend our voices and harmonize with one another. She always had such a beautiful voice, mine however was still going through that fun transformation it does as we age throughout our teenage years. I struggled to find my voice. Soon it came time for us to plan what we were going to record and when. We obviously could not steal a song from our favorite ladies we loved to sing with, The Judds. Oh how we loved to sing “Love can build a bridge” or “He’s crazy”. But The Judds, we were not. This pipe dream seemed to fade into the distance over time and never was fulfilled. I continued to sing over the years, but as I went through life I somehow lost my voice.
One day I realized I had just quit singing. Even driving down the road listening to the radio, I would find my voice just to be a soft whisper. Maybe it was criticism over the years from others, or maybe it was my own self doubt in myself. I began to feel that everything I did was just not good enough. The voices of so many others had filled me with such self doubt that soon that was the only voices I could hear, my own vanished. I envisioned dogs howling at my singing, or that my voice sounded like a cat screeching when you accidentally would step on its tail. I even once went to a bar with the guy I was dating at the time which loved to do karaoke. After much persuasion on his behalf, I went on stage. I attempted to sing the song “Maybe he will notice her now” by Mindy McCready. Well, to make a long story short, the bar seemed to empty quite quickly that night. After I got done singing, I noticed it was only 9:00 pm and the bar was empty. Where did everyone go, was it my singing? More self doubt entered into my existence right there. That was the last time I ever sang in public (out loud anyway).
Fast forward to about seven years ago. I started attending a church with my (now) husband and they would put the words up on the screen so you could sing with the band. I would listen to the music and read the words but my mouth would never open. I eventually faced much criticism from him because of this, drilling me why I wouldn’t sing. So eventually I started mouthing the words so I would be in his good graces. I felt my voice was not meant to be heard. I would spend seven years in this relationship always feeling like my voice was not meant to be heard, my words would often stay hidden within my heart or mouthed but never spoken aloud. I lost my voice.
Sitting in church this morning I started to think about this when the minister was talking about Fear. I have spent my entire life being scared. I was scared of judgment, scared of not being accepted, scared of being criticized, scared of feeling like I don’t matter, scared I will never be good enough, scared to speak up about injustice, scared to stand up against things I knew were wrong. I even sat quietly through a relationship that I knew was toxic, that I knew would only hurt me to the point of no return. I stood strong by someone and tried to love them, even through all the pain and fear they caused me, even when I could see the darkness within them. Their voice was always heard. When I would try to speak, to talk, to try to fix what was broken, my voice was overpowered by the loudness of theirs. I lost my voice.
Today I sat in church alone, today I did not sit by my biggest critic. Today I sat with just my own thoughts, my own feelings, and the presence of God that spoke to me all too clearly saying “Use your voice”. I am tired of hiding in the shadows, I am tired of living in fear, I am tired of standing by someone who would not stand by me if the situation was reversed. I am tired of loving someone who is incapable of returning that love. Love is not control and it has taken me a long time to realize this. When I lost my voice, I lost my value. I am slowly finding myself again, and I demand to be heard. Today I sang in church. I found my voice. Today I sang in my car. I found my voice. Today I wrote in my blog about speaking my truth. Today I found my voice!