March 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
I’ve never really had a problem talking. When I was younger, I always found some exciting tidbit from from my school day to relate at the dinner table, something thrilling to elicit a response from my family “audience.”. My imaginative mind was quick to exaggerate or even fabricate a few tales, a trend my parents may have picked up on. More than once as a child my mom would encourage me to come up for air once in a while. Other times she’d ask me to finish chewing before speaking, not so much out of concern for etiquette as for her concern that I’d have yet another choking fit in the midst of telling a particularly engaging story. My senior year of high school I was nominated for “Class Chatterbox.” No, I was a master talker. Some teachers even called me “well-spoken.” I used my voice constantly. I sang, I acted, I screamed with laughter and just plain screamed a lot of the time. Talking has never been a problem for me.
The truth is, talking was my cover. My secret weapon. If I kept rambling about nothing, I could avoid talking about the real, the serious, that stuff that had the potential to make me feel. I have a hard time communicating with people, telling them how much they mean to me or how much they can hurt me. I grew up in a house with a host of communication problems. There was either silence, explosive noise or the occasional small side comment that I would obsessively analyze for days, months, even years. If I tried to speak up at home, I was shot down, ridiculed and silenced. Eventually I developed so much guilt I was afraid to voice my feelings out of fear that telling the truth could destroy the fragile foundation upon which my family shakily rested. So I’d ask my Mom decaf or regular instead of saying I love you even though you’ve let me down. Most often, I didn’t say anything at all. I carried a physical pain in my throat as I squashed down those words dying for escape, for air, for breath. Even when I was around those who knew had to listen, I found I had lost the ability to speak my mind. I was too trained in the art of making jokes and skating on the surface.
There was one place where I could tell the truth, where I could expose my soul and let the words run free. When I wrote, all I could never say in the physical world came to life on the page. I could communicate perfectly. I even surprised myself by what I apparently wanted to say. Recently in my life I’ve been trying to tear myself from the page and force myself to voice my thoughts and feelings to the world. Every time I have tried, I stumble. I open up my mouth and I cough. And after beating myself up again and again, I have realized…writing is my voice. Writing is how I speak. I shouldn’t chastise myself for not being able to speak up. I do speak up. I write up.
So with that realization, I have designed a personal project. I will write to all of my loved ones, my friends, my family members, perhaps even my enemies. These writings will be more than letters, they will be short writing pieces that say everything that must be said. They will be written, well, the way I write. In my voice. It’s scary still-though I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it, it’s hard for me to be vulnerable. Writing is intensely personal. Though easier than actually speaking my soul, writing my soul is still just that: exposing myself, telling the truth, opening myself up to hurt or embarrassment. I plan to do this project over a while, gathering up the courage to write to one person at a time. I want to devote as much time to each person as need be. These are big conversations, conversations I’ve been running away from nearly all my life. They deserve some thought.
If you feel that you too need to say something that can’t be said, by all means join me in this Project. If you can’t speak up, “speak” up in writing. Write up.