Finding my Voice
I am currently taking a writing course that is supposed to help me become a better writer. Great! I want to be a better writer so that you, dear reader, can have a memorable experience each time you choose to spend time with me. Currently I am working on an assignment about finding my voice.
As I was pondering this idea of Voice I realized that I have been in the process of finding it one way or the other my whole life. Not only did I grow up having to fight to find my Voice, I had to battle for the right to use it.
I was born in San Francisco into a family that already had three small girls. 18 months later a brother arrived and subsequently my parents added three more boys to the family. In case you don’t feel like doing the math that is eight kids. Of course with eight little souls running around one had to fight for attention. Fight to be heard.
I was the only child in my family that grew up without being physically abused by our father. The reason for this, or so I have been told, was due to my Voice. Apparently at a very young age I was able to sense danger and whenever my father came near me I would let out a scream so blood curdling and loud that he was afraid to touch me for fear the neighbors would call the police. That wouldn’t have looked very good as my father was the police.
As I grew in age, I also grew in courage, confidence and Voice. I began to use my Voice as a tool to protect myself and my siblings. One memory that stands out to me is when I was nine years old and my parents were separated, but my dad was at our house all the time. My oldest sister had been in some trouble earlier in the week and when she came home she rushed into the bedroom where my other sisters and I were playing a game and slammed the door. She looked terrified.
Not 30 seconds later the door flew open and my father came charging in. He grabbed my sister by the throat and threw her up against the wall. Through clenched teeth and spittle he demanded we leave the room. I have never seen a room clear so quickly. He didn’t bother to wait and see if we had all left before he turned his attention back to my sister and resumed choking her. As I stood in the doorway I was torn between the right and wrong of the situation. My nine year old self couldn’t quite reconcile being made to leave a room that she lived in just because a man that wasn’t supposed to be there ordered me to.
Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. However, my sense of right and wrong was at an all-time high. Besides, he was going to hurt my sister… badly. So, I took a deep breath and found my Voice, “Why don’t you leave?” I hollered. “You aren’t even supposed to be here so get out!” My legs were trembling and I felt a wave of fear wash over me. He just stood there staring at me for a moment (my sister still pinned to the wall) in shock. “You put my sister down!” I screamed. At that moment he let go of my sister and turned his attention towards me. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was no longer in shock and when he lunged at me I knew I needed to move.
So I did.
I ran barefoot as fast I could through the six alleys that lead to my Aunts house. I was so filled with fear and adrenaline I didn’t notice my feet being cut up by the sharp rocks and occasional piece of glass that covered the ground in the alley.
I stayed at my Aunt’s house for a week before I was summoned home. I was pretty terrified but much to my surprise my father didn’t do or say anything to me about the incident. We didn’t speak for about two days after that and then it was over.
I have spent the last 41 years working on my Voice. Working to develop the raw, honest, funny, brave and spiritual instrument it has become.
I am not done.
My Voice continues to evolve right along with my soul.