Years of clarinet lessons and speech therapy had simply not worked. Despite my parents’ determination to do something constructive for their super-shy daughter, I could still barely be understood when I spoke, such were the depths of my shyness and inarticulateness! The clarinet had not improved my breathing, nor the elocution lessons my elocution. If anything, the hole in my self-confidence was dug deeper.
I’m participating in the Writing Contest: ‘You Deserve to be Inspired’, hosted by Positive Writer. http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-you-deserve-to-be-inspired/ This is my entry…
So, that was back in the 1960s and 1970s when allergies were barely recognized. Now it would be glaringly obvious that this wheezing little girl was highly sensitive to house mite (or the poop thereof). The tight-chestedness, which made breathing not that straight forward, and the constant phlegm on my lungs and in my throat, resulting in an ugly, gargling voice, were simply the symptoms of asthma triggered by the overabundance of that infamous mite in the old houses I grew up in.
And at some point in my childhood I gave up. Communication and me? Just too painful. Even saying my name at school registration each morning, was an agony of humiliation.
Thankfully this was far from the end of the story. Through my late teens I had what felt like life-saving spiritual and emotional input from people around me. My physical health vastly improved in my early twenties when I moved from the U.K. to the Netherlands – cleaner houses, fewer mites. Then to the Philippines – too warm for my least favourite insect. And of course, I now had the medication to keep asthma at bay…
Today, when reflecting on where I find my deepest joy, it is in teaching, public speaking, and in writing. No one in a million years, myself least of all, would have guessed such a future for the mumbling, withdrawn kid I once was.
And, of course, I’m still on my journey. It’s not a case of having completely found my voice, I’m finding my voice. So far I’ve experienced freedom of expression in Dutch, in public speaking, in teaching, and in writing non-fiction. I’m still finding my voice in speaking Tagalog (Filipino) and in writing fiction.
If I could pass anything on to you, dear reader, it is this:
We need regular reality checks: we can’t move on from where we’re not. Spiritually, emotionally, physically, psychologically, practically, the whole gamut. Let’s just take time to reflect: where am I, how am I, really and truly, in these areas? The truth, however uncomfortable, sets us free. Free to move forward.
And don’t be surprised if your biggest weakness turns out to be your biggest strength, sometimes precisely because it’s been through a refining fire.
Another thing: We’re not meant to go this alone. Without a shadow of a doubt I would be nowhere without the help of people I’ve crossed paths with along the way, whether I recognized it at the time or not: The pastor who took a very insecure teenager under his wing, giving regular counselling; the friend who paid for very expensive allergy tests; the kindly editor of a London church paper who commissioned a series of articles…
And yet, and yet, when it comes to actually taking the step of courage for our voice to be heard, to be read, it’s only myself, it’s only yourself, who can do that.
Whatever you face, my friend, grab hold of Courage and go for it!
Find your voice!
Photo: Cloud iridescence over Manila, May 29, 2016.