When we lose or diminish our voice, we lose a vital way to love ourselves. Speaking one’s truth is probably one of the scarier actions those of us who have lived with issues of codependency can do. When we come to rely on the validation of others for our good feelings about ourselves, we learn to do and say only what will be considered appropriate by the other. This is very dangerous, keeping us imprisoned, and worse draining us of our own life force. We give ourselves away to the person we’ve come to depend on for love, approval or happiness. The paradox is that we are not authentically getting any of these things when we give ourselves away like this.
This is heavily on my mind as I have spent a lot of my life as this person. So much so, that at least twice a year every year since I was a child I would physically lose my voice. When I finally broke through this and began speaking my truth and showing up for myself this way, the physical manifestation of this block finally disappeared. In the last three years I have not had one occurrence. It’s come to sit again squarely in my awareness as I watch my daughter struggling with the same issue with one very important person in her life. I, again, am given the opportunity to heal another layer of this fear that still shows up. I always walk through it, and although I resist it, I know it has to be done. When it is also for my daughter that I’m speaking up, I know that I will have to muster up all the courage that I can to say and do what needs to be done. I do it because she is terrified to, and that’s okay because she’s a child and in her mind her survival is at stake. So I model and I speak up for both of us.
Pathological behavior patterns like this can run very deep. When I was a child I learned quickly that to shut up was the best route to safety. My home was often a battleground and my father’s volatility made him a ticking time bomb. He changed later in life but by then the pattern was engrained in me. My father was terrifying to me and my fear translated into an agreement to keep my mouth shut so as not to ignite any of his anger. It worked for the most part, and that’s what I needed to do to get by. I needed to use what worked when I felt my survival was at stake. Later as we grow and that pathological pattern is locked in we continue using it far beyond the confines of the situation in which we needed it. This is what we do as we grow up, generalizing these messages and then recreating similar situations in which we can play them out and drive them in deeper. Until one day, we hopefully wake up to it all and begin the process of undoing it and freeing ourselves. We begin to heal and change and move past our limitations.
In my case, being brought up in the atmosphere of anger, volatility and bullying made it very easy to attract in to my life other people, usually men, with whom I could engage in similar pathological patterns. I had children with the one that finally woke me up to this pattern and is the reason I have been able to get on the path of undoing and healing much of it. At times I thought I would always be this way and it was too difficult to change such deep seated habits of behavior. I’ve learned that the key is not only making our patterns conscious to us but also to do the difficult and challenging thing that moves us through to the other side. Each time we do it we shift and change that pattern a little more.
In my case, I have to become conscious of the anxiety and fear I feel each time I’m faced with having to speak up for myself and say something that another may not approve of or find pleasing, particularly to someone who specializes in intimidation. Once I’m conscious of it, I have to avoid wanting to make the feeling go away by running the other direction or convincing myself that I’ll be fine if I just don’t say anything. Then comes the challenging and liberating task of doing the very thing I’m afraid of doing. I may need to pray and ask for guidance in how best to speak my truth, and I may need to talk with myself to gather the courage needed to step through my limitation. Then I just do it and I’m a little freer than I was the moment before I did it. That’s all it is, moment by moment decisions regarding whatever is facing me. Each decision and the action resulting creates movement and space around that hardened pathological behavior, and eventually there will be a tipping point at which the new and healthier pattern becomes the norm.
I thought this blog would be about not speaking your truth and suppressing your voice and how damaging that could be, but this is only one possible behavior pattern among many that we develop as young people to cope with our world. We have a lot to undo and the transformation process is the important part. How we free ourselves of it all is what matters. I invite you to consider what pathology you may be continuing to perpetuate and how you could possibly create a new and healthier norm for yourself.
Do this so you can show up as the authentic you that was always there before those patterns took root in you. It’s fun to put on a costume for Halloween and pretend to be something you’re not, but when you make a lifetime habit out of it, the beautiful and true you gets lost. So unmask yourself and let us see the real you shining bright. You are not your behavior patterns or your past or most of what you think makes you the person you are. You have always been that something Divine whose constancy can never be shaken. We reveal it as we undo all of what keeps it under wraps.
“When it comes to the mental, emotional and behavioral tendencies of our family lineage the positive ones is not the issue. The unproductive ones are the roots and causes of many issues we face in our lives, relationships, how we attract, amass and handle money or success.
Betrayal. Abandonment. Rejection. Sexual and emotional violation. Having to be poor and dependent. Diminishing self for the good of the family. Lack of self-value and worth. Diminishing our voices and not being heard. Staying in relationships that do not honor us. Accommodating what is rather than creating what is desired.
These patterns, most of which are related to survival, success, love, wealth, health, strength and accomplishment are stored in our DNA. What we saw, heard and experienced in the home and world is the root and cause of the dysfunction we experience in relationships. It must be healed and released if we are to fully express our true nature and expressions of the Most High.” – Iyanla Vanzant