I have a secret . . . very few people know this about me, and it is something that I’ve struggled with my whole life. It is still scary to me, even this very minute, to talk about it.
You see, I’m pretty good at a few things. Just like you. We are all good at something, even when we think we aren’t. I had no idea that I was good at anything for a very long time. For many years I lived in a world where girls were only allowed to smile and nod, be silent and agreeable, never have an opinion of their own, and (Heaven forbid!) if a girl did actually have a thought of her own, the absolute last thing she would want to do is speak that opinion out loud. Where I came from, “good girls” just don’t do certain things. They don’t say certain things, and they never, under any circumstances, speak a disagreeable word. I learned my lesson well, and it kept me silent for many, many years: “Good girls don’t get angry.”
And so I didn’t. Well, on the outside I didn’t. But the sad part about that kind of world is that there are lots of “good girls” out there who are really and truly sad, lonely, discouraged, defeated, and depressed. All that along with a monumental load of grief and anger because it appears from everything they are being told, that their contribution to the universe is at best irrelevant, and should they step outside that little “Good Girl” box, they are to be pitied and avoided because they surely will lead someone else astray. Usually an unsuspecting young man who hasn’t a clue about all the stuff that “Good Boys” should know about.
But I digress . . . . here’s my secret. I can’t find my voice. Literally. It has been fascinating to me over the past couple of years to discover that my physical voice has been so disguised, distorted, hidden, and frightened, that now when I am no longer in that world where “Good Girls” come in a one-size-fits-all box, that I simply cannot find my voice. There now you know. I have struggled through vocal therapy for many years, and it has been such a gift to me to find a voice teacher who seems to understand why, when I open my mouth, often times nothing comes out. No sound. At. All. NOTHING. Silence.
Well, actually I’m not sure she truly “understands” because she has never seen anything like this before . . . but she is a loving, compassionate, and patient teacher and friend. Just the other day we were talking (I can usually find my voice for talking, but even that sometimes is scary!) and she tried to get me to make a sound as if I was trying to have a conversation and the other person kept interrupting me. She would say, “Try this . . . say, ‘Wait! Wait! Wait! I’ve got something to say!” I guess it was about just jumping into the stream and hoping I learn how to swim before I drown.
And that’s when it dawned on me . . . I would NEVER, NEVER, and I mean NEVER do that. I am so well trained that if someone else has something to say, it surely must be way more important than what I might have to say (especially if it is a man; since I am a woman my words are never as important as a man’s words – but that was in my other life). I have learned that silence is so much safer than speaking and putting my words, thoughts, ideas, and opinions out there in the world where they will, again, either be ignored or ridiculed. Fortunately, I no longer live in that world, but the scars remain.
So my friend, I am beginning a journey (or actually continuing a journey, just with different tools to help me) to discover and hopefully FIND my voice. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this quest. No, your story might not be exactly the same as mine. But God has impressed upon my heart that I must share this journey, and so I begin. The task of finding my voice has been about saying what is really in my heart, and the safest way to begin is with baby steps. That is how this project of my art journals began – small steps of expression that felt “safe.” If anyone else happened upon my “words” they still would not know for sure what they were seeing. Or hearing. Or reading. I’m getting a bit bolder, and with age comes a certain amount of “I’ve lost my give-a-darn” bravado.
As I embark on this new project of finding my voice and telling my story, I invite you to join me as we work on learning new ways to express our creativity through journaling. With words or not, journaling is truly therapeutic and healing for anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, grief, and so many other emotions that hold us back from experiencing the life that God has for us. So, off I go on my adventure, seeking that which has been lost for many years. I hope you will come with me!