I was talking with a friend this morning about how common it is for women to lose their voices – not laryngitis-lose-their voices, but actually become silenced instead of speaking. And before I go further, maybe one more distinction is in order: it’s not just about speaking; it’s about naming. Women (and all of us to some degree) find it incredibly difficult to name what we see, experience, and feel. The risk feels too great, the dangers too real, the ramifications too palpable. And so, we keep quiet – or at least compliant.
I wonder what would happen if we chose to at least hear – if not speak – our true voice. What would it be like to even began that process by writing (for our own eyes only) what we really saw, experienced, and felt? What would it be like, if only for a time, to silence that internal editor, take the censoring filters completely off, and just express what we know to be most true? It seems like it might be a good first step toward actually speaking – and naming out loud.
Do we even know what our true voice is saying; what it most wants to name? When we find ourselves in relational contexts that are difficult or strained do we hold back or do we say what we most want to say – and what we most accurately see? When we watch circumstances taking place in our work environment that are harmful to others or to ourselves do we speak what our heart is screaming or do we remain silent so as not to be seen as disruptive, causing trouble, or seemingly risking position and influence? Of course, there is a time and place for using our voices, speaking, and naming. Not all relationships or circumstances are either safe or appropriate for such. But what I’m advocating is that we should at least know what our voice wishes it could say. That would be a huge step in the direction of actually saying…no…naming things, outloud.
My voice is often silenced…more by my own fears than anything or anyone. And I know this is true because I’m acutely aware of the ongoing conversation that takes place in my head. But that’s not what I want. I want my inner voice to be consistent with the one others hear. In fact, I want to hear my own voice – spoken, not just echoing in my own mind.
It’s not really about finding my voice. I know where it is. It’s a matter of bringing it out of hiding. Using it out loud. Will I? Not always. But sometimes…more times….I hope so…Yes. It’s worth hearing. I’m worth hearing. (That’s what my voice is naming even now!)