Finding your voice … Learning to Speak up after being Marginalized.
Writing is many things to many people. Mostly though it comes down to a form of expression, a way of speaking up or out.
For me it is no different, I write both on and off this blog to give voice to my thoughts and ideas and to get some expression behind them.
It hasn’t been easy, it’s been almost a decade in the making. This finding my “voice” thing.
You see, during my time dealing with abuse I learned that my voice didn’t matter. I’m sure some of the message was given to me by media and the like, maybe they started the ball rolling.
But it was driven home by a relationship that said “I love you, but you really shouldn’t be yourself”. Maybe not in those words, but in a tone of little ways and actions and events.
Now underneath all the buzz that happens in my head I’m a rather strong personality. So it took a while to realize that I had started to change just to keep this one relationship going.
I had learned to speak and write things based on this other persons view-point.
I had essentially given up on things I love, like singing out loud. I say out loud for a reason, I was still singing in my head.
I was lucky, oh so lucky. I was strong enough that when I realized what was happening I could still do what I needed to for safety reasons. But I could express myself in other ways when it was safe. (Like my writing)
How to figure out if you’ve lost your voice
There are so many ways we can lose our voice. It’s not just abuse victims, though many victims have lost their voice.
We could have to deal with trauma, or grief, or … it could just get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Our society tells us that it is best if we “fit in” with those around us, this is how we will supposedly find love, and build relationships.
I beg to differ, we are each born with a unique voice, a gift if you will. And that uniqueness is something the world needs us all to share or express in some way. It makes the world better, when we are true to ourselves.
If you are not sure if you have lost your voice or not, here are some of the questions to ask yourself.
- Have I started looking to someone else to answer questions for me?
- Am I constantly on the fence when making decisions?
- Do I feel scared when someone asks me a question? Even over the simplest thing?
- Am I a people pleaser?
Chances are if you answered yes to all or most of those, you’ve lost your own voice.
How to go about finding your voice again
The first step in anything is to figure out what you want. In this case we want our voice back, right? So you’ve already done that one ? awesome job.
The next thing is to start looking for it, in this case that can show up in different ways for different people.
- Just know you have a unique voice that the world needs to hear.
I’m not talking about the actual speaking or singing aspect, I’m talking about the understanding you have about the world around you and what it would mean to the world at large for you to live a life true to that understanding and how you fit within it.
- Cultivate the ability to listen.
Really listen to those around you, not to what they are saying. But to the meaning behind it, respond to THAT meaning instead of just the words. When we focus on those around us instead of our interior self it’s easier to also hear the inner voice that says “hey this is me too!”. Please don’t use this listening to turn into a People Pleaser or anything like that, but use it to listen to yourself as much as you listen to others.
- Find your passion in life.
Some times we need to find something we are passionate about to spark the voice within, for me this was journaling, writing, singing, dancing, poetry, and being creative in general. For you it could be something else entirely.
- Ask yourself some exploring & curious questions.
Things like “Where am I biting my toung?” or “What did I really want to convey here?” can help you listen to yourself and re-connect with that voice. Here are a few more I’ve used (especially in my journaling)
What makes me angry?
What makes me cry?
What gives me hope?
As a kid what did I want to be when I grew up?
What skills have I mastered?
What skills would I like to master?
What would I do if Money & Time no longer mattered?
What would I change about the world?
If I had one day left, how would I spend it? With who?
- Find someone who believes in you.
This could literally be anyone, I found Mr. B. at the exact right time for me to start finding my voice again. You want someone who will challenge you but not bully. Someone who knows you have the capacity to figure this (and anything else) out. I also recommend someone with patience, as you need to have the room to make time for yourself as you progress.
- Find a role model who is active with their own authentic voice.
I’ve had a number of amazing people in my life who have not only found their voice, but are actively ensuring that they keep it & they help me stay centred with mine. If you have read Hiding the Truth with Camouflage then I’ve already introduced you to my perception of my Grandfather. He was the kind of person who made you feel like you were the only one who was important when he focused on you. I didn’t realize it until MONTHS after I met him, but Mr. B. does the same thing. There are others as well, but I think you get the point here. Find someone who speaks their own truth and they will encourage you to speak yours. Don’t just look at the celebrities and big names in our media, look closer to home and find people who are really more accessible if you can.
Once things start getting out you’ll want to pay attention to your body and see what feels good.
When I get a post out that I’m connected to my face feels light, my ears ring a bit, and the tension in my throat dissipates.
When I write something (blog or not) that I don’t connect with (ie isn’t done in my voice) my throat gets tight in a particular spot. To the point that I feel like I’m choking.
The first time that happened it freaked me out, I was writing and felt like I was choking at the same time. Now it’s not uncommon for people to feel things about communication in their throat area, but I didn’t expect the intensity that I picked up.
Just a side note, many people get the choking sensation when they are scared of speaking up as well. Once you get familiar with your body you’ll be able to tell the difference between “not my voice” and “I’m scared” sensations in your body. I promise, it just takes time and a willingness to be curious.
Once you have found your voice
You’re going to want to hold onto it. And sometimes that becomes an issue of balance.
When I first started to get my voice back all I wanted to do was be heard. To the point that I started speaking over others, and not listening. I suggest you avoid that if you can.
Knowing you have your voice back can really bring you peace, but it’s not going to help if you alienate everyone around you by refusing to listen to them.
So balance, I once heard that you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them accordingly. 😉
Also know that not all times are appropriate for some discussions, read the situation, and act accordingly.
There will also be times when you feel like you have to give up your voice in order to be accepted. Remember what I said at the start, we all want to fit in. And we all end up worrying about how the world sees us at some time or another. That’s natural in a social creature.
But to find our voices we need to be confident in the fact that other will like us, maybe not right away. But at some point you will find your tribe, your circle of people who you can count on. The catch is, you won’t find them until you have at least part of your own voice back.
I know you can do it,