I lost my voice.
At 13 it disappeared
in front of 300 peers
my speech dissolved to nothing.
Mortified I wish to say something.
Silent I stood in front of the whole school
When words returned jumbled
I spoke like a fool… a mess
I never was voted captain I must confess.
Fast forward 29 years…
A candidate in my training class
wanted to perform his poem in front of us
There is going to be a scream in the poem
I asked him to warn the receptionist.
On the edge of our seats we sat in anticipation
of the words and the scream inside the poem.
He stood up to perform his poem and let out
a mighty, guttural scream like a wounded animal
for over 2 minutes (it seemed an eternity).
The office including the boss rushed to my defence
“Are you alright?” They whispered through the glass
Stunned I gasped " It’s ok it’s just performance art"
I debriefed the 15 fringe dwellers – animated
and fired up in unison they declared
“This is the best training class we have ever had”
They connected in the three week training and beyond
It seemed the poets scream had created a bond as it
had been the voice of their collective internal landscape.
His voice left an indelible mark of trauma on my psyche
and made me look at voice through new eyes.
Voice and loss of voice has been a central theme in my life
Between 0 to 8 my voice was strong fed by the unconditional
love of my father I was encouraged to speak.
I remember connecting with teenagers and young adults 2 and 3 times my age.
When my dad died my voice disappeared,
my mother remarried and went under a new regime.
I struggled for the next 8 years to find my voice.
In class with a whirlpool of creative thoughts swirling
around my head, I froze and words got stuck when my
English teacher asked me to share. Mute again locked inside.
I found my voice momentarily when the boys teased that Van Gogh
was insane. I defended his sanity with passion and the words somehow
found their way up my throat, through my mouth.
Through writing and art I defended my sanity and sensitivity through
8 years of psychological abuse.
Through these years voice and no voice wafted in and out of my life.
Voice is deeply effected by pain:
Undermined voices stutters and splutters
Not seen it is silenced
Ridiculed it screams inside
Ignored it chocks in the throat.
Voice responds to positive attention:
Seen voice whispers its truth
Approved it grows more articulate
Appreciated it sounds resolute
Empowered it is confident and inspiring.
Voice is the barometer of our inner health and our
connection to the world that surrounds us.
Constructive criticism spoken gently
can be received easier then words
shouted in cold criticism.
Dulcet tones, exotic accents
can allure and seduce.
Words spoken with intelligence and consideration
can educate and inspire greatness.
Words said with kindness
can heal cultures and build bridges.
Cruel words can shatter and destroy life’s.
Repeated words can manipulate vulnerable minds.
Sometime silence can speak more from an open mind
then words with cruel intent said by a closed mind.
A group ganging up against the individual
can silence voice.
Chauvinism in some cultures can delete
women and other voices.
Painfully shy people find hard to speak.
Grief can delete voice and immobilize
the body and mind.
Sexism, prejudice, intolerance, bullying, misplaced
power are the enemies of voice and
can remove speech and sound in their oppression.
Fear destroys voice a little every day.
Unkindness, oppressive power, toxic work
environments can erase voice.
Rejection can silence a confident person.
Thinking from a creative mind can be dangerous.
Voice can inspire great change.
A still clear voice spoken with wisdom can shift paradigms.
A knowing voice can invite other minds into news ways of seeing and being.
Voice can be whispered, spoken softly, shouted, screamed… Munch’s scream is an image that leaves a lasting impression on every viewer because he has painted the voice of pain with such intensity of honesty. When you look at the painting and you feel, you hear the scream, like I did in my training class on that memorable day.
Voice can be the vehicle of freedom.
We can speak our way to healing.
If we do not speak our truth we can become ill.
Words spoken with conviction from a thinking mind
can challenge and revolutionize.
After losing my voice in front of the school at 13,
I had an epiphany…that voice and communication was my life.
I had to overcome the fear and stage fright
and I pushed myself to speak publicly in order to eradicate
the pain of losing my voice. I spoke in Youth of the Year twice and lost my voice again in the impromptu speech. In my career I became a strategic executive presenting to boards, directors and peers.
Now as an adult educator I train and speak in front of people every day.
And with Disrupt, Insane or Wired or Brilliant, Diamond Core, Glamour…Trap,
Toxic, No is No and sensitive I think my voice is back!
Anthea Slade 26 June 2010
Sensitivity & Sensuality Series
by Reynaldo & Anthea
Innocent Voice and Voice is the eleventh upload in our 22/22 (paintings/drawings/poems) Collaboration Sensitivity & Sensuality.
It is such joy and absolute delight to collaborate with Reynaldo, a beautiful man and magnificent artist and gifted painter on our third major collaboration Sensitivity & Sensuality.
Dimensions of Rey’s beautiful painting
acrylic and colored pencils on
140 watercolour paper