When did you lose your voice?
A decade ago, when I was secretly writing poetry in the middle of the night on TheresAPoemForThat.com
sorting out a heart breaking end of marriage, it was easy to post my whole heart.
Literally nobody read it - and there was no chance of being found out, called out, tweeted at or screeched at for what I had written. I just got to pour out what was inside and figure out how it matched what was outside and feel better afterwards. As far as I could tell, I had one very loyal reader, a person who went by the name of IronWorker117 who always thanked me for writing. Everyone else (or nobody at all) just read it.
Then a few years later in 2010, as the divorce process began, I launched Caution Curves Ahead - putting my name front and center, ready to share my experience and figure out who the hell I was going to be in this new chapter of me. I was a lone she-wolf (terrible poetry reference) and wasn't culpable for anyone else's feelings. Again, though not anonymous, my writing was about the solo journey - my story, my experience. I didn't rely on anyone, and nobody relied on me. There wasn't anyone likely to be offended, except an old high school boyfriend who was appalled by my Caution Curves Ahead boy briefs picture.
"Oh, so now you're posting pictures of yourself in underwear on the internet?" he asked with a level of disapproval that didn't match his own high school shenanigans.
but, I truly didn't care.
I explored, adventured, wrote without compunction - and as social media began to find it's voice, I happily shared mine, my own, my solo Summers story. I climbed mountains, wrote essays, wrote articles, and got better and better at my voice. And then that chapter too came to an end in early March 2014.
One optimistic Spring morning, I sat at my computer at the office, working on application review for my program at UCLA, and suddenly out of nowhere, a toxic, repulsive message from someone who would do me harm - showed up in my Facebook messenger. This person, hurting from the pain someone else had caused them, transferred her pain directly to me in the most vulgar and attacking way I'd ever received. The base level of language, the sheer self hate, was explosive. I was unprepared to receive this kind of message, and had no idea what I'd brought into my life.
My colleague walked up to my desk, saw my face, saw my screen, grabbed my purse and walked me out of the building. Thank you for saving me that day, Binti. I went home that day and cried until I could cry no more. It was then, that everything changed.
It was then that, I started to lose my voice.
And even though that moment could have been a turning point to reclaim my voice and reject those who would do me harm, I persisted to try to make it better, to try to help the hurt soul, and heal the wounds of the broken hearted people I now found around me.
I guess I had developed an addiction to unexpected curves.
Over the last three years, I joined a family and with that haunting memory of pain - I became incredibly protective. I changed how I wrote and it became difficult to tell my story, to pour out my soul, to ride the curves of ups and downs through writing on a public forum. I went from independent and not depended upon to dependent and someone that was counted on.
So, I hid.
I had a new fiancé, kids to whom I instantly became a part time (and eventually full time) parent. My own disapproving parents and a parent in law were glaring with skepticism at my intentions, and very little I did felt like it was even close to anything of my own.
I swallowed my voice in diaries that were too painful to finish, created private facebook groups to speak vaguely of what was happening inside, and choked my way through meditative mantras, when all I wanted to do was just be honest, to shout, to share, to write! There we so many curves and winding roads that would have made for great heart pouring. Yet now my journey was mixed with other people's stories. I no longer felt entitled to self expression. "What about the kids?"
I leapt heart first - as I often do - into someone else's story and forgot to tell my own.
It's hard to believe in this day and age, that an "every opportunity possible" woman can still be completely swallowed by a relationship or life they did not realize they chose. We are liberated, independent, powerful creatures and have anything we want, right? We have nothing to complain about, right? Why would you even need to write anymore about life's complications?
I'll never forget when I went to my graduate school reunion and not one of my female classmates asked about my work or my career intentions, and instead each and every one asked about my husband. I literally became an echo - and no longer a voice, by choice. I had stopped sharing my journey and in the protection of others, forgot to protect myself. You see, I knew there would be risky and painful elements to the journey, and I believed that I was protecting myself after that wretched March day by putting down my pen.
I was not.
Here's the down and curvy truth of it. I, like most moms/ step moms who turn their lives upside down in the enthusiasm of change, get incredibly lonely. It is unbelievably lonely being a parent, wrestling with finances, disagreeing with your mate, fucking politics, rebuilding a life and finding your time spent entirely in between someone else's must do's and have to get to's. Giving myself entirely over to family still seemed to be the only way this sort of thing works. I didn't realize it would be my path, but perhaps it's because I have no other role model.
I sometimes pine for my other life. I miss the life where I got to go to spin class with my favorite instructor, hike with friends early in the morning on Temescal Canyon, eat healthy because it felt good, watch uplifting shows with friends who wanted also to be uplifted, blog with freedom of expression.
I miss not having to worry I was going to deal with the hurt feelings from the people in my family that would come with my absolute honesty of the very messy act of living. I miss not having to mask optimism on shitty days or pretend I am "above it all", when really really awful things happen. I miss being able to share in unabashed honesty, that life is a curvy messy road of intentions, opportunities, heart breaks, AND joys.
I really miss being able to write it all out, pour it all out, to hear, see and read my own voice - and to figure out how what's inside can match what's outside and most importantly, feel better.