How I Lost My VoiceJan 19, 2022
With an almighty CRASH, a thousand knives, forks & spoons skitter across the floor, bouncing & shooting off in all directions.
1978, Garfunkel’s, London. Waiting for a table with my family, playing the clown, ‘showing off’. Impersonating Fonzie from Happy Days.
My confident cool gesture, arms out, thumbs up, catching a carefully balanced tray of newly washed & polished cutlery. Pushing it off the dividing wall & onto the floor. The deafening noise as its contents hit the ground make me jump & cringe all at the same time. So NOT cool.
The background chatter of hungry diners goes quiet, as a sea of faces turn to look at me.
My face burns red hot, while my stomach does cartwheels; I feel sick. Every fibre in my 10-year old body screams at me to hide. Hide from the mess I’ve caused, hide from the angry waiters, hide from my shocked family, HIDE.
In an instant, the lunch I’m so looking forward to turns into my worst nightmare. My appetite disappears, taking my budding self-confidence with it. Much safer to stay small, invisible, quiet…Much safer not to be noticed.
Decades of Silence..
‘What’s she doing in this meeting - she’s not authorized to make any decisions!’
My face flushes a thousand shades of crimson as my body floods with hot humiliation. I tremble with silent rage. My boss, the Chief Technology Officer of a global investment bank, has thrown me to the sharks. Had he anticipated the hostile reception I’d receive at the boardroom table from his middle managers? The haze of testosterone hangs heavy in the air. I sense the waves of contempt breaking over me, threatening to drown me in their strong undercurrent of displeasure. Somehow, fighting for breath, I struggle to the surface. Voice shaking, I splutter out an apology for my boss’ absence & assure the irate meeting members that I will relay their concerns.
Uncomfortable, unappreciated, unwelcome, I do my best to fade into the background for the remainder of the meeting.
Finding my voice again
Sitting in a circle of women, my shawl pulled tight around my body. Safe in my cocoon, keeping out the chill night air.
2021, St Catherine’s Hill, Winchester – Full Moon.
We’re led through a powerful guided meditation that takes me, soaring, giant wings outstretched, gliding, dipping, free. My heart cracks wide open, my mind unusually clear. Fresh, clean air fills my nostrils & I taste this moment of unbridled joy.
Back on the ground, I sit, listening to others share their experiences.
A flickering flame catches & ignites within me. My heart beats rat-a-tat-tat, something inside me demanding to be let out. I have a strong urge to… ululate. The constrained, sensible voice within me extinguishes this urge immediately – No, how embarrassing, you can’t possibly do that! Stay in your cocoon.
Yet the flame within me won’t be put out so easily & continues to burn.
My turn to share. The sensible voice fights for me to stay small. Tell them about the flying, much more acceptable. But the fire won’t be contained any longer. I warn the group of what’s coming. Head tipping back, my mouth opens to release the primal howl that’s been building within me for decades, ripping the cocoon I’ve so carefully constructed, apart.
A warrior’s call before the battle, a wolf’s warning howl to its pack. Years of boundaries crossed, opinions trampled, of being judged unfairly, of staying silent, not speaking out, not taking a stand. An outpouring of fire in the form of voice. The faces around me glow with excitement & my howl is joined by others. A thousand unspoken hurts released to fill the moonlit sky.
In this glorious, cathartic, sacred moment, I know from now on, my voice will be heard.