Sunday, March 4, 2012

voices carry

The Voice, by Shel Silverstein

Learning how to listen to, and trust, your own voice is hard. It's hard to filter through what our friends, loved ones, family, coworkers and strangers project onto us. Especially when the voice inside your heart is saying something different than they want it to. I do believe that true friendship lies in the harmony and echo of each of our inner voices. That is where love lives. Hmm... I may have to come back to that thought later.

One thing that my experience with the path through grief gave me was a change in perspective. I realized somewhere in the weeks and months after Rochelle died that I was never going to be the same person I was when my best friend was alive. The one thing I knew for sure is that this grief was going to define me one way or another, and I got to choose how. My voice was different now, because it didn't have her echo anymore. I got to decide how my new voice would sound and what songs it would sing.

So, I started listening. I started with myself. Who do I want to be? What kind of person will people say I "was" when I no longer "am"? What matters to me? What no longer matters? And then I listened to what others said to me, and about me. Thankfully, I have some amazing, loving, intelligent, and incredibly honest people in my life. And then, I started using my new voice, trusting that my heart knew the way back to happiness.

Sure, there are setbacks, there are expectations that must be met, there are loved ones whose own problems and hidden agendas cause stress, pain and strain in my relationships. But I try to respond to those situations with kindness, with honesty, from a place of peace. I know I can't change someone else's perspective, and I also know I don't have to echo their voice if it doesn't harmonize with mine.

In the last few months, trusting my voice has been challenged. Relationships have been strained. It was tempting to lash out in anger, to point fingers and toss accusations and old resentment and unhealed hurts back at those who are causing pain in my life. But I held on to my new voice. I trusted myself to speak honestly, to speak from the heart, to temper my words with kindness, while not backing down and taking blame or responsibility that doesn't belong to me.

To be honest, I'm not sure if it worked. At least from the other person's perspective. I don't know if they have heard the kindness and truth in my words. The relationships are still strained. Issues haven't been resolved yet, and may not be for some time. But it's going to be okay. My heart tells me so.

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