Dharma Glimpse by Sam Johnson
Recently, my brother got married and I was his best man. It was a wonderful occasion. It also put a strain on my voice, and by the end it was gone almost entirely. It is still in recovery as I write.
In the past few days I have been repeatedly frustrated at not being able to say the things I want to say. Not big things, just everyday comments and questions.
‘I lost my voice’. It occurs to me that this is literally true, but may be true in another sense too. I think back over recent times and past years to things that I could have said, but didn’t. Often, I didn’t speak because of fear. Fear that I would seem ridiculous or otherwise come across in a way I would not want to, and so be rejected. Or, fear that I would upset someone, and maybe cause an escalation. So I didn’t speak – I lost my voice.
I suppose it may have started in my childhood, when I didn’t know how else to keep myself safe than to retreat into silence. The cost of that in the present is often feeling disconnected from those around me.
Of course, it is still not always a good idea to blurt the first thing that comes to your head, and there are lots of times when it is appropriate to hold ones tongue, so a balance needs to be struck.
Having lost my voice in the literal sense, I know that forcing myself to speak out loud could be harmful. But there are ways around this, such as making gestures or writing things down.
So too in the other sense, it may be unwise to force myself to speak if there are parts of me that do not feel comfortable. But, if something feels important, I could also consider saying it in other ways.
Namo Amida Bu.
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Thanks Sam. I have suffered with this same problem since I was a child. I lost my voice because, over a period of probably close to 20 years, I was ignored by those closest to me in ways that they didn’t realise were harmful. This is a form of negative conditioning and has manifested physically as well as psychologically.
It is sometimes a battle not to get carried away with the emotion that is trapped beneath the physical and psychological problem, and requires some skill to control what comes out so that others don’t get inadvertently harmed by my historical pain.
This is the dilemma that comes with all of the baggage that humans invariably carry. To be able to hold it lightly enough that it heals while considering the feelings of those we come into contact with.
Namo Amida Bu