The Privilege in Sharing Our Story: Why I’m Allowing Myself to Feel Angry + What It Means to Be Heard When You’ve Lost the Ability to Use Your Voice
There usually comes a moment when I know, that that something, it’s going to be shared. Even if it’s simply a small fraction of the experience in full, it’s very much still there.
It certainly doesn’t happen all at once. First, it settles, running deep through my veins, pulsing heavy in my thoughts, a ringing in my ears, a temptation resting against my lips - I feel it everywhere, pulling me this way and that. There is no way to rid myself of it, and sure, a few shakes could provide me with temporary peace of mind, but again, it comes back.
A feeling that needs to be set free in order to fill its deed.
I am hoping that this post sits differently with you, and maybe not in the way you’d expect. I’m not here because it’s Wednesday, and Wednesday’s seem like a strategic time to write a post, share a story, and send out a Newsletter, which quite honestly, is something that I do think about, but rather, I’m here because it almost feels as if I have no other choice.
I have to empty this heavy bag of mine and get some thoughts out on the table.
Selfish? Maybe so, but it's where I'm choosing to meet myself today, whereas a month ago, I avoided putting the securely closed bag on the table at all cost, let alone the contents inside. However, today is different. Today I want to share (no doubt, a privilege) with you a few things I've been holding close, maybe even a little too close...
Let’s start with the emotions that wrap themselves tightly around the past couple months, months that have indeed felt like years.
At first, a lightness around the severity of the situation, something that I think of as a coping mechanism, and instead of fighting it in typical Chloe form, I let it run its course. Then we encounter determination and plenty of it. The wonderful yet dangerous thing about determination is you’re often shielding yourself from other emotions, batting them down with appointments, research, well thought out questions, and an intense kind of focus on the task at hand. Nothing could divert your attention, except maybe for the frustration when walls are hit and questions are left unanswered.
Frustration persists, and though I like to think we’ve come to some kind of truce, I still find it lingering on the sidelines of my actions, thoughts, or coffee that has spilled, up the wall and all over my favorite poetry books it goes - which is when it becomes less about the pools of coffee and more about the expectation that this sets for the rest of your day…
Well, there’s no doubt it will now be pure crap-a-palooza...
In walks Anger, quickly taking control of the situation with clenched fists and unrecognizable thoughts, putting it’s stinky feet up on the table while dropping crumbs all over my freshly vacuumed carpet (I don’t like messes). "Really, you think you can walk in here like you own the place?" Yes, yes it does, and unless I pull every tool and possible strategy from my I-won't-ever-need-to-go-there book, those stinky feet and crumbs will be sticking around for quite some time.
Here is where I must circle back to before I dissected the heaviness of this bag, to an extremely important piece to this seemingly impossible puzzle: I keep these emotions locked away, nowhere near the likes of those I love out of nothing but fear. Fear that by sharing them, I will no longer be the optimistic and positive person I know myself to be. That by expressing disappointment, displaying frustration, and showing this fear, I will somehow wipe myself clean of, well, me, leaving a stark naked self with nothing but an empty and hopeless gaze.
Time and time again, I’ve done this to myself. I’ve told myself that if I stuff those negative emotions down, far past the reach of myself let alone anyone else, then my cover won’t be blown and no one will find out who I really am:
A bitter person that has let this chronic condition layer fear above hope and anger over everything else.
Even as I type this, I know this isn’t true, but the power that words and emotions hold when you don’t allow yourself to work through them is a force like no other. It’s almost too easy to slap band-aids on open wounds, not giving them the proper care that they need in order to heal. So there they remain, open, sore, and with an increasing amount of pain, but as long as you keep those temporary fixes available to you, you may not find any reason to sit with it any longer- out of sight out of mind, right?
On goes the band-aid, up go the walls, out comes the suppressed anger.
Those walls, they’re not for you, they are there for me. It's a way for my mind to move without restraint. To tackle the task at hand on a surface level, without ever having to dive any deeper. But the diving deeper, the big crashes, the frustration, and anger? That’s where I should be working from. Those are the open wounds, the ones I’ve been finding temporary fixes for.
Now, this does not mean I need to let down all my guards. Unlike what I might normally say, I think guards can be good.
They can be used as tools in the face of toxic relationships, thoughts, and conversations, but the guards that go up between the way you tell yourself you should feel versus how you really do, they are the ones that you (speaking to/about myself here, but if you relate, I encourage you to put yourself in this conversation) should slowly, and with care, try to find a way through. No need for destruction or immediate change, because in some cases, ripping the band-aid off all at once might do more harm than good.
Leading to a significant drop in confidence and how you see yourself, often times opening the floodgates to anxiety, depression, panic, and mental illness.
So, where is all this coming from?
Back in September, I decided to take myself to the ER because of neck pain, soon to discover that there was a clot in my internal jugular vein, otherwise known as deep vein thrombosis. A few weeks before this happened, I was feeling good, well enough even to set the goal of running/walking 26 miles for my 26th birthday in December. Crazy how things can unfold.
Now, nearly two months later, after my body finally decided to take care of this clot, I’ve lost the ability to use my voice, quite literally. For a gal that craves solitude and recharges through time spent with herself, there is nothing I long for more than being able to be audibly present and verbally process the situation at hand. Folks, my voice just up and left, and I don't mean that metaphorically, I mean it in a very real with-a-camera-down-my-throat-every-other-day kind of way, as in the muscles cradling my voice box have decided to squeeze until squeezing is no longer an option.
Simply put, it feels as if my body is working against me and I'm frustrated, confused, and without a doubt, angry. Angry that the path forward seems more isolating than ever before. Not just that, but I'm beginning to realize just how powerful other forms of expression can be when words are not an option.
Meaning, no longer do I wish to take story telling for granted, understanding that sometimes the most memorable and complex experiences are told through subtle movements and gestures both grand and obscure.
Though there are about a dozen other heavy bags I could unload right now, but I won't, and not because I’m wanting to put up even more barriers between my emotions, but because this is how I am choosing to process: slowly and internally, listening to every emotion, not just the pretty, optimistic ones. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place too, but without really taking the time to sit with the less pleasant ones, I’m only going to further the use of these temporary fixes, rather than getting to the root of it all. Maybe not even the root, but simply a point I can start from.
A place where putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t seem so gosh darn difficult.
A place where I can remind myself that feeling frustrated is allowed and that if it decides it needs to turn into anger, that does not make me a bad person.
It’s more about how I decide to move through it rather than the feeling itself.
With love, always