I wasn’t told that there was a loud, driveling, toxic voice living in my head who would stick around long after I needed her. No one ever showed me how to turn down her volume, and that when I did, I’d find the steady, sincere, sublime voice of my Soul. (I imagine her dressed in airy white, sitting enchantedly in a wicker chair on the wrap-around porch of my mind, emanating wisdom like dropping pearls into the sea).
My mother worked long hours after my father left. At nine years old, I’d call her at the office and she’d walk me through how to make spaghetti and meat sauce (the secret is in adding a little red wine and a heaping teaspoon of sugar).
I learned how to be self-sufficient, how to balance a checkbook, how to exercise common sense, and how to make good choices. On weekends, my dad taught me how to have fun, how to never give up, and how to brush off rejection (I’ll never know how he did the last two so well).
I also learned to never have my hand out, to speak when spoken to, to be seen and not heard. I learned sarcasm and comedic relief and I learned how to do laundry (when it was an absolute must). I felt love and joy and I also learned guilt and shame and rage, and how to subjugate my needs for others.
But overall in my girlhood, like far too many people I know, I learned how to keep that toxic voice at a steady hum, to run on it like gasoline. You know the one. It’s the voice who folds to the poor behavior of others trying to convince you that there’s something wrong with you. It’s the one who sits on your back like a gremlin with a whip yammering on about what you could have done better, distracting your attention from your worth.
I wonder what could have been different if what I’d learned was to listen to myself, to trust that illusive inner knowing at all costs. I wonder about the first marriage I may have avoided. I wonder about the friends who didn’t behave as friends.
I wonder what profession I’d have chosen. I wonder how tightly I might now wind a sentence together, how loosely I’d be able to evolve an idea had I had the courage to begin writing sooner. I wonder all the ways my Soul would have kept me out of the dark forest in my youth and beyond.
I wouldn’t trade a moment of it to not be where I am today, but I do spend a fair amount of time wondering how to get the next generation here sooner.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned, and what you must learn dear reader, is how to raise the roof with the volume of your Soul’s voice, so much so that the toxic voices in and around you gasp for air from a sound-proof container.
Oh the freedom.