I have been having a recurring dream lately, where I am screaming but nothing is coming out. And the more I panic that I can’t make a sound, the more any sound I can produce, diminishes. Some of the dreams, I am screaming for one of my children to get out of danger and they can’t hear me. Some I am screaming for help as I’m chased, and nothing but a hoarse whisper comes out. And some, I am on the ground being strangled, trying to scream in fear, to scare the attacker away, and nothing comes out. Every time, my lack of noise causes me to panic. And I wake up with my hand at my throat, wondering why I can’t produce sound.
When I told my therapist I was having this recurring dream he took a breath and then paused and said: “What do you think it means?” (Typical, making me do all the work!)
I said, “Well on the obvious front, I feel like I don’t have a voice, or that no one is listening to me. That I am screaming for help for important stuff and no one can hear me.” And he nodded and said, “True, it could be literally about feeling like you have no voice. Think for a minute about why it was your voice and why you weren’t deaf or blind in your dream. I think it’s because having a voice and being a writer and an expressive person, your voice is so so important to you. To you, not having a voice might be worse than being deaf or blind.”
Later, I began to think about the fact that I have a blog that I haven’t used. That I have a voice I am not using. Using your voice is scary, at least for me, as I’ve seen and experienced the trolls out there—heck I was married to a troll for 13 years. He stalked me on social media when we first split up and tried to use everything he could that came out of my mouth against me in court. Speaking out in custody court doesn’t exactly endear you to judges, either, or get them on your side. For so many years I’ve been told to control my mouth, keep it down, duck your head and follow the rules, it’s the best way to get your kids. (I was trying for full custody. More than once.) In the meantime, my ex did whatever he wanted and got away with it. Breaking out of that behavior is hard. We’re told that as women everywhere, not just in court, by the way.
The newsletter article in my email tonight from Mother Jones (MoJo) was about doing what you can. If you can’t watch or read the news, don’t. If you can run for office, do. And I thought: I have a voice. I have a voice, dammit, and I’m tired of not using it. It may be rusty, it may come out a whisper at first, but I need to use it. As frequently as I can.
Maybe you can’t use your voice and that’s okay. Share those voices that speak in a way that works for you. I can’t run for office, but I can write. I can share my story. What can you do?