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“I’m guessing you process your emotions verbally, right?”

… my speech therapist nailed it on that one. 

This past week I let myself stew in my sadness just like I promised myself I would. My brain is a little too messy for a cohesive post right now, but instead of not writing at all, I’ll share some thoughts inspired by other people that have really impacted me in this week.

1. “What are you up to these days?”

2. “‘I’m not at my best’ is such a bullshit idea!”

3. “What’s the hardest thing about not talking?”

1. “What are you up to these days?”

A friend I haven’t spoken to in quite a while asked me about “that improv stuff I’m always posting about.” It’s a little touchy for me, as most things are these days, because I’m doing much less improv than I’d like. Still, this particular person doesn’t have the slightest inclination that anything’s wrong with my voice, and I don’t want to get into the whole mess with him right now. 

After explaining how to get involved in the improv at my theater, we catch each other up on our lives. He’s got a lot going on. He’s about to sell a business, move, start a new venture and pick up improv along the way. The question “What are you up to these days?” hit me so hard.

What am I up to? 

I’ve cut my main creative outlets back so much. I’ve cut back socially so much. I’m finding new ways to be creative, but I don’t really know what I’m working toward. I just feel sort of like I’m floating from thing to thing, because each time I try to dive deep into something creative, my body seems to get in my way. Yes I’m writing songs and sketches, but will I ever be able to sing or perform them? Will they see the light of day?

I ended up telling him “I’m working and having fun.” There’s nothing wrong with that if working and having fun is all you want to do. However, I want to do more. Especially now that it seems like I can’t. 

I know I can. I know I’ll figure it out, but right now I’m in limbo and the stick hasn’t gotten higher.

2. “‘I’m not at my best’ is such a bullshit idea!” 

God I love my friend Kelly. 

She’s had a ton of medical experiences that parallel my vocal journey into a land of ambiguity and frustration. Last night we chatted about everything that’s been going on. I like talking with her because she understands the background of what’s happening, she understands how to empathize without feeling sorry for me, and she really, really cares. 

We talked about how I’m starting to see someone, and how this vocal drama makes things a little more intense than is ideal at the beginning of anything with romantic potential (< that’s a confusing sentence. I’m sorry.). He’s a fantastic human and is really trying to be there for me, and it’s easy for me to feel like I’m not there for him as much as I could be when I’m feeling 100%.

Then she said something that I didn’t know I knew until it came out of her mouth. “‘I’m not at my best’ is such a bullshit idea!” 

It’s really easy to get stuck in this trap where you feel undeserving of anything if you’re not at your 110% Ultimate Goddess of Beauty, Strength and Wisdom-functioning level. Like you’re less of a whole person because something is affecting you negatively.

She helped me understand that it’s okay that I need help now. It’s okay that he’s there for me. Would I think he was less deserving of my affection if he was going through something medically and emotionally trying right now? It’s okay to have to lean sometimes instead of being the pillar.

3. “What’s the hardest thing about not talking?”

Whoa. Big question, dude. 

My speech therapist asked me this hoping to help me figure out what I’m doing wrong as far as the physical act of speech is concerned. He quickly ran to grab a tissue box as my choked back tears became a monsoon all over my face.

It was so hard to calm down and breathe long enough to get out my answer.

Aside from “everything”, my answer was that it’s extremely socially and emotionally difficult trying to keep myself from talking.

My mind flashed to moments of being in a room full of new people at the theater. Since I’ve been there a while, I feel like it’s my place to make them feel at home and feel welcome. I also do booking, and I want them to feel like they can approach me. But new people conversations are really something I try to avoid. You have to put forth such an investment of time, listening, energy and voice to really get to know them and let them know you. 

I also had mental images of myself at work waiting for my food to finish heating up at the microwave so I could grab it and run away from the person I wasn’t speaking to because I don’t want to use my voice on them right now. It feels selfish in so many ways, but also necessary.

Then I thought of something that really got me: I don’t feel like I can talk to my parents. I used to share afternoons at my dad’s so often. Now his smoke makes that really difficult. We could go outside, but the fact that I can’t talk much seems amplified when there’s no TV to take up some of that audio space. Also, my mom and dad both don’t have the whole background story of what’s going on with me. Each time I talk to them I have to fill them in and start from the beginning. I should just tell them to read this blog! But that seems pretty cold. 

I’m thinking I’ll talk to them once it reaches a more stable point. That might make it easier. So I don’t have to explain every up and down to them. Still, I really do want to talk to them. They’re my parents. They’re a big part of my support. I want to share with them and receive comfort from them. Sometimes you have to be thankful for the support of friends like Kelly (in addition to more great people) and let the rest go for a bit.

After some of the information in the above paragraphs finally escaped my mouth we went back to speaking exercises. My speech therapist really is a great person and healthcare provider. I hate unleashing this storm of crazy on him. Thankfully, he really seems to understand. 

That’s one common thread among these quotes: no matter what happens to me or my friends, there’s always a way of being there for one another that exists between all the words we’re saying. Even the guy I didn’t explain everything to. The fact that he was asking about my life is a way of being there. I really am a lucky, lucky woman.

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