In the book I just finished reading , the author discussed going ten days without speech as a show of solidarity to those who are enslaved without a voice. As an elementary school student, I was once challenged to be quiet for thirty minutes while my rather unfriendly classmates mercilessly teased me and taunted me to speak. It was a particularly challenging dare, but being the kind of person who does not back down from a challenge, I was ultimately successful. To not have a voice is to have one’s wishes, one’s boundaries, one’s dignity disrespected and disregarded, to be treated without any worth, to be treated as property. It is no surprise, ultimately, that so many people who have felt as if their voice was stolen from them have decided to take their voice back.
Writing is one way where people can find their voice in ways that are less stressful than speaking in public. There are many ways in which writing is vastly easier than talking, at least at first. In writing you can craft your words before releasing them to the public, and at times one can even write anonymously at first, until one is able to write openly. Even someone like myself, who is often thought to be a painfully open person about my personal life, has often written anonymously and privately about matters that needed to be mentioned, before it was safe for me to speak about such matters online. For example, I wrote about the struggles I faced growing up with a family that thought me to be less of a man for what I endured as a small child anonymously some years before I was forced (quite against my will) to be more open about it because it was being discussed by those who wished to slander me. Sometimes we seek our own voice only because we do not wish our lives to be used against us without our own ability to speak in our own defense.
In many cases, and certainly this is true for me also, writing is a way to formulate one’s thoughts and to express one’s feelings about life and to make sense of situations that are frustrating. While I know that people may not necessarily appreciate even being obliquely referred to in personal posts, I write for my own sake and, however reluctantly, I accept that other people have their own side of the story that is not necessarily a very sympathetic one to me . What is most intriguing to me is when other people write about their own lives and express their own feelings in ways that better allow me to understand what they are going through, especially if it is something I can relate to but choose not to write about myself.
An example of this is the blog a friend of mine wrote about a condition she suffers that requires frequent and urgent trips to the restroom because of nerve damage. As it happens, as a two year old, a prayer request was made on my behalf in the local congregation that we attended because of the unpleasant effects of some internal muscle damage I suffered in my sphincter as a result of certain actions. Of course, I do not believe that the cause of the damage was part of the prayer request, although it should have been taken into consideration. Even today I still suffer, much like my friend, because there are some wounds that never completely heal. One simply has to learn to make the best of it. However, one can still find one’s voice, to break the silence and to find others who can encourage and support us as we work to make the best of our lives and deal with the struggles that we face. Often, that is more than enough.