SPEECH

I am learning to use my voice to ask for what I want.
This is new
because I have never been questioned what it is that I desire
Never invited to share.

At home, no one talked about the trauma
So I knew to stay silent rather than speak up.
At church, my female voice was not qualified for leadership
So I closed my mouth.
At school, made fun of for having too many right answers
Or laughed at for saying the wrong things
I learned to be quiet
And listen.

But as unused muscles atrophy
So did my vocal chords
Weak, only able to speak pleasantries
Socially acceptable comments
Compliments
But never expressing how I truly feel
Only able to tell part lies.

The line of communication from my heart to my throat, disconnected
Shut down like an undertrafficked train track
Abandoned, Unnoticed.

It seems like such basic instinct to say what I think
To express the thoughts that dance in my mind
But does anyone understand the pain I feel as I try to move the words through my body?
A physical discomfort
Through every limb
And so still, I chose silence.

Which seals in the pain
And I tell myself that this is how it is.
That this is how it’s going to be
Toughen up and deal with it.

And yet, I feel peace when I say what’s in my heart
Not always heard,
But honest.
Trying,
I am like a small child
Frustrated by language
But learning to speak.
To express my reality
To tell my story
Describe feelings
Putting words to emotions.
At first small phrases,
Repeating samples
I look for examples.

I am parenting myself
Coaching
Coaxing the sounds
From the depths of my heart through my throat
Joining teeth and tongue and lips
To tell my truth.
At first stuttering
Stumbling over my tongue
The words are sharp inside
And shake me on the way out
But little by little I am adding to my vocabulary
Of honest speech.