Like most things, this post took its time to be ready. And now it is.
I want to share with you how I lost my voice, and how I'm finding it again.
When I was a kid, one of the things that made me, me, was my voice. I was a talker. I was a singer. I was an actor on stage, at home and on an actual, literal stage in my local community theater and high school productions. As a teacher and then as a program director, I spoke a lot each day.
I was defined, in many ways, by my voice. How it sounded, what I said, and how I said it. And then, a few things changed and this year I was struck with the reality that I had, in fact, lost my voice.
First, there was a very real experiential loss when I was abruptly fired without notice in 2009. I'd never been fired from any job I had held and had only received glowing recommendations from my previous supervisors at this particular job. When I tried to ask questions to make sense of what felt incredibly surreal and unfair, I experienced no access nor interest in providing me any answers. I don't do HR, so I guess that's what is supposed to happen. A community of hundreds of people who had surrounded me for years was strangely and unnervingly silent when the news of my "departure" broke. A colleague and mentor advised me to move on in silence, to avoid appearing "embittered and righteous".
Move on, I did. I started up my health coaching business and went from being buried in debt to financially thriving in under two years. I used my voice to speak about topics and issues that were relevant and important to me, on my own terms, in venues and using methods I chose. And it felt great.
Then, in 2012, I began to lose my actual voice. I began HRT (hormone replacement therapy) in May to initiate my physical transition. As the months passed, my vocal cords thickened and the pitch of my voice changed. At first it felt like having a sore throat and then it just felt like a lingering cold. I tried to sing songs so familiar to me they felt like breathing, and now I could hardly get a few notes out. I sobbed, overcome with grief that I, and I alone, was responsible for the loss of my singing voice. It was something I took for granted until I no longer had access to it.
As I adjusted to this change, I also realized I had become paralyzed with regards to my voice in my business. As my self-confidence waned in the face of the transition process (it ain't easy, lemme tell ya), I felt less resolve and clarity about my message. My Buddhist practice made me mindful of my ego. People on facebook and in my real life challenged my perspectives on nutrition and lifestyle habits, fearlessness and self-empowerment.
I found myself voiceless--literally and metaphorically. And it felt really, really horrible.
The experience lasted longer than I would have liked but I'm grateful for it, as I am with everything in my life. I've learned so much during this period of relative silence.
As the panic and paralysis wears off, I've found myself in a place of acceptance. Yes, my voice has changed. It's different--on purpose--not just because of hormones but because I want to use it more powerfully. This transition process isn't just about changing my physical body but actualizing how I show up in my own life, including how I use my voice. Losing it makes total sense. Finding it, from a place of real authenticity and integrity, is a new and now exciting process.
And singing is fun again, I just have to sing in a different octave.
Have you ever experienced something like this? Or maybe you had an a-ha moment while reading it.
Tell me what you're thinking.