Monday, April 18, 2011

The Voice We Choke

I help women put voice to their stories. In the course of doing my work, I spend a lot of time listening to my clients so they can have their experiences in written form. It has become this remarkable gift that God has graced me with, to be able to translate into word what has been hiding in their hearts. What I have discovered is how desperately hard we work as a society to hide our flaws, our mistakes, and our shortcomings. It is part of our religious training, to rid ourselves of our "sins," to hide our shortcomings from the people we love for fear of being judged, rejected or accepted. Sometimes I have hidden my voice to keep myself elevated in the eyes of another, especially when I felt unsafe or needed the other person's approval. This part of ourselves, this hidden compartment, creates fertile ground for dependence on drug and alcohol, illnesses caused from stress, and feelings of deep isolation. At a recent womens' expo, one of their focuses was on heart health. Heart attack is the #1 cause of death for women in the United States. One of the leading contributors to heart disease is stress. If I cannot be open, honest and transparent in my life, then I will feel stress...and so does my heart.

The Expo really put this before me and has caused me to realize how important having a voice is. It is not an easy thing to do, to speak your truth, confess your "sins" or express your deep disappointment to someone you love. But if air and water are critical to life, so having your voice is equally critical to living without stress. Using your voice effectively is something that is learned; it is a skill set that perspective hones and changes as time goes on. As I look back at my many entries into WWAV, what I see is my need to have a voice and be heard. I came here hoping to help others and in writing it I have also helped myself.

We all make mistakes. As a parent, I have made some humdingers. It is not the making of the mistake that matters. It is the voice we stamp on the mistake that affects all of us. If your perception of me is that I need  perfection to love you, then your voice will be swallowed and our connection will be like eating cotton candy. It might be sweet but it is all air and lacks nourishment. But if I can make you feel safe so you can tell the inner truth that needs to be unlocked from some inner prison, then we are both free to evolve and change. I will learn from you and you from me. Together we can make a difference and take on the challenges that meet all of us along the way. If your voice is being stricken because of concern for what the world thinks, then the world will always matter more than you do to yourself. But, if you can know deep within your heart that YOU are the only thing that matters, there is no conversation or voice that will break or kill you. Transform you, yes. Your voice is the key that unlocks the dungeon of isolation. I wish, with my heart and soul, that you use it.

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