Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Have No Voice

My throat is fine. I can talk. I have no writer's voice. I don't know what to do about that.

One of the things we talk about in social work is self-authorship - a particularly cruel metaphor when part of the person's self-image is as a writer. But the idea (from Freud, who really did have some brilliant thoughts) is that our life is a narrative. There are many competing stories we tell ourselves about who we are. One or the other of them will float to the front of our brain at any particular moment, but they are all rattling around, making noise in our subconscious. It is our work, our meaning-making-work, to edit those stories. We have to figure out which stories are true, remove the power -the voice- from the false ones, and create a narrative that makes sense. We have to author a life.

We are all authoring our lives all the time, whether or not we claim the task. But I feel like I've been given (forced to undertake) the opportunity to do that quite explicitly. Sometimes that's wonderful. Sometimes that's terrifying. Sometimes it's lonely. Sometimes it just makes me unspeakably sad.

Things are not like they were last year at this time. My life is vastly better. But it's hard in different ways -ways that defeat me sometimes. The "I can't do it" voices can be quite persuasive.

If we move on to Jung, we are encouraged to assign an image to those emotions that rise up and seem disproportionate. I have to be the least visual person on the planet, so I've never been able to do that. But I can hear the voice of those nasty thoughts. I know exactly whose voice it is. Hint: it's male. We are supposed to stop asking "why" questions -which is very hard for me to do. We are encouraged to replace them with "what" questions. What happens if I calm myself, and step into these new roles as though they were already mine? Which really is nothing more than claiming a little of the "entitlement" that seems to have gotten other people so far.

But... anyway... my voice... my self-authorship, it's all taken a little bump. I don't know why I expect it to be a smooth road, but I clearly do. I'm hunkering down trying to move through it. And in the meantime, I don't have that much to say. I'm just surviving. Right now, that's my task, I guess. Perhaps doing that -just surviving- helps to remove some of the power from my "I can't do it" fears. I hope so.


Nina said...

try doing a global replace (I love that function in Word) replacing "you can't do it" in a male voice with "maybe you just haven't done it yet" in a distinctly loving, but no-nonsense motherly voice.

You CAN do this. You ARE doing this. And the things you haven't done yet, well, you'll get to those soon. I'm sure of it.

Lisa :-] said...

In a little while, you will have been doing it for so long that the "I can't do it" voice will just go away. Necessity is a mother...

Anonymous said...

There probably aren't that many things that you can't do, but maybe you can accept the few that you really can't. You are certainly up to most intellectual challenges.