Four years ago, I lost my voice. For a whole summer, I had to carry throat spray and lozenges and be prepared to stop talking in the middle of a conversation or while leading a class. My voice would come and go, and my throat felt scratched and swollen, and after two doctor visits there was no diagnosis and no improvement. Finally I visited my naturopath.
She provided some alternative medicines and suggestions, but there was still no clear cut picture of the cause. She continued to ask questions as we sat in her office. After a long pause, she looked at me and said, ''One more thing. Could it be that you have silenced your own voice somehow? What is it that you're not saying?''
So often, illnesses are the body's metaphors for what is wrong with our lives. I'd heard this. But I shook my head. I was teaching and coaching writers. I was doing what I loved. My family was well. I was writing.
Of course, I hadn't done anything with that memoir - the story of my confusing, scary childhood. It was shelved, for later. Who cared anyway?
She repeated, ''What is it you're not saying?''
Through her prompting, I came to realize I had to do more than just give ''lip service'' (pun intended) to this idea. Using one's voice is one of the most important things you can do: speaking out loud the truth of your life in poem or story. Telling your story.
I got back to work on the memoir. I started airing it, sharing it, submitting parts of it, many of which were subsequently published. Also, my voice cleared up. Not like magic, but over time, and I came to fathom the connection in a new way.
How about you? What is it you're not saying? How can you use your voice today, in words, or art, or song?