I Lost My Voice
There are so many meanings to these words: I lost my voice. In my case, I caught a bad cold and had three days of laryngitis, so I actually lost my voice. It’s a scary feeling to open one’s mouth and have no sound come out. There was literally an emptiness in my throat. I’m talking total loss – no croaking, no hoarseness, no squeaks. Nothing, no voice at all.
I had never really thought about what it would mean to lose my voice. I couldn’t answer the phone, I couldn’t call my dog, and I couldn’t do my job. I am a counselor and a professor. I talk for a living. I’ve often thought that I’m fortunate in that if I ever became disabled, perhaps in a wheelchair or blind, I could still do my job. No voice, though, how can I teach or counsel?
So here I am writing. I can do that. It is a different medium and the words are comprehended in a different manner entirely. I hear in my head what I’m typing but you will be giving my words different inflections and intonation. There is so much meaning conveyed when we use our voice to emphasize, to convey humor or gravity.
The new technology is grasping this and we use emoticons to try to convey more accurate meanings with our words. Smiley faces, “lol,” and winks help to fill the gap of not hearing a voice. There is still a disconnect though.
Losing one’s voice has deeper meanings than just not being able to talk. It can mean that I have lost my identity, lost my equality, and lost my power. If I am in a group of people discussing the topic of the day and I cannot talk, then I have lost my voice insofar as even being a part of the conversation. I am an outsider – listening, nodding, smiling or frowning – there, but not there, physically in the circle, but not a part of it. Can I write my opinions or gesticulate my thoughts? That would not last long. People would grow tired and bored and move away. The biggest motivator of human behavior is belonging to the group and I would lose that belonging without my voice.
Minorities, disenfranchised groups, and individuals who do not have equal rights in society have lost their voices. They form their own groups not just for a sense of belonging, but so they can strengthen their collective voice and be heard by the dominant group. We often think of people who are using loud voices as wanting to dominate and control, but maybe they just want to be part of the conversation and have been excluded. They are crying out to be heard and to assert their identity. They want to Connect.
My voice is back and I now have a new understanding of what it means to lose it. I have a deeper compassion for those without a voice. My challenge is to listen through different senses and allow the Connection that needs no voice.
Be In Light