The Journey of Finding My Voice By Barbara Carter
I once felt I had nothing of valve to offer. Nothing of value to say to the world.
From a young age I was shy and afraid of so many things. In school I hated to read out loud. I feared not knowing a word, of making a mistake. I was so afraid to speak up that I could not bring myself to raise my hand to ask for permission to go to the washroom. Instead, I peed myself, until I learned to fear the embarrassment of doing outweighed the fear of raising my hand and using my voice.
As a teen and a young adult alcohol helped free my voice, giving me the confidence, I thought was real, but it was a false voice. A false empowerment.
True empowerment comes from within and most likely, you experienced it when you were a child.
As a child I loved colouring books. The freedom to choose any colour crayon I wanted to use, to stay inside the lines, or colour outside them. I could relax and not be afraid of making mistakes. Colouring pictures and later, drawing was what made me want to become an artist.
But life does not always go as planned and those dreams fell to the wayside until I neared thirty years of age and the desire to create was so strong, I could not contain it any longer. Without the money or resources, I used what I had available to me at that time, fabric. And I began creating hand-stitched images that flowed from my imagination/subconscious.
In truth it was my voice emerging, saying the things I couldn’t bring myself to say out loud.
Years went by and by showing and selling my art, by standing up before a crowd, I gained more self-confidence.
Just like in this quote from Suzanne Berne’s novel “The Ghost at The Table”.
By waiting on the parlor chair until it suddenly dawns on you that you are not deaf and blind, that you are not dumb, and that it’s time to say something, even if no one is listening. By acquiring, at all costs, a flying attitude.
I came to a point where images could no longer say all I needed to say. It was a powerful feeling within that gave me a clear choice of releasing all that was stuck inside me or lose my mind.
So, I began to write.
I enrolled in a creative writing class and it was in that class while writing a short story the voice of my child-self emerged.
When I started writing I had very few memories of being a child. Most of what I knew came from stories others told me—their view of what my life had been like. I looked at photos of myself as a child and wondered what thoughts and feelings were inside that girl in the pictures. Who was she? What were the messages about life she’d been given? What did she need to let go of? What did she need to keep?
I began to form my stories by jotting down bits and pieces and by the time I finished writing the first draft, I wanted to walk into the ocean and drown. The critical voice in my head kept saying: How can you say such things? How can you do this? How dare you? I entered therapy, once again, and recognized these voices for what they were—a last attempt to silence me, as I had been silenced all of my life.
First, I safely tried to present my work as fiction, and over the years I set these stories aside many times, eventually coming back to do another draft, another restructuring, until I finally came to where I am today—writing memoir.
Finding my voice has been a journey of healing, of coming to terms with what shaped me into the person I am today.
Each book I release is another step about standing up and using my voice, of facing the fear and doing it anyway. For I believe in sharing those things we would rather not tell. But the secrets we hold and the fear that surrounds them are what keeps us chained.
So go back and find that child you were. Embrace those early dreams. Find your voice and set yourself free. For everyone one of us has pain and wounds and by sharing your experiences you let others know that they are not alone.
Written by Barbara Carter