I have a big mouth. I’m loud. Sometimes I talk way too much, and often I say things that later make me cringe. I’d like to think it’s part of my charm, but the reality is, it’s just part of me.
My Mom says when I was a little girl, I always went for the laugh. That’s definitely something hardwired. In school, I loved public speaking and drama class. But as vocal as I can be, I’m a huge contradiction. Because sometimes, I have no voice.
Was it because of growing up with an angry father who was always yelling? Or because of a mother who so desperately wanted to protect her children and keep the peace but could only say “Shh…it’s okay…” when it was anything but okay? Yes. No. Great big question mark.
All I know is that when I wanted to say something, it would feel like everything was shutting down. I couldn’t speak. The words were there, but I couldn’t get them out. I wanted to, but it was just too scary. So instead, I did something easy. I kept my mouth shut. Except I didn’t. Because instead of opening my mouth to let the words out, I opened my mouth to shove them down. And yes, I know this is a recurring theme with me. Because it is me. Hey me, sorry ‘bout that.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had issues with food. I’ve eaten instead of dealing with things. Nope, I’m not sad, I’m not scared, I’m not angry, I’m not confused… I’m just hungry. Really really hungry.
Thankfully, I never turned to drugs or alcohol. But I wonder if Hostess would be better off financially if I didn’t get my head on straight. Let me just put Jann Arden’s “Hanging by a Thread” on repeat, cry, eat a box of twinkies, and hate myself instead. But, that doesn’t accomplish much. And one day, I was just too tired to do that anymore. So tired, I didn’t know if I could possibly do anything else. But I had to do something else. That thread was getting too weak to hold me any longer. That poor little thread.
And so I had to learn. It wasn’t easy. It never was, it never is. But I’m getting better at it. I’m learning to let myself feel sad, and scared, and angry, and confused, and all those other words that are everything in between. I’m learning how to say those words when I need to. And, I’m learning that even if someone gets angry and yells, I don’t have to tell myself “Shh…it’s okay.” when it isn’t. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how much you shove down your throat – whatever you are trying to stuff down is going to keep trying to get out – and you’ll always be hungry.
Whenever I hear “Say What You Need to Say” by John Mayer, I can’t help but sigh a little smile. I’ve never been a fan of John Mayer. I like some of his music, but him personally, not so much. For some reason, I think he’s arrogant, and there’s something in his face that makes me want to punch him. I have no reason for that, I just do. But you know how when something hits you and all of a sudden you have a change in heart and it all makes sense?
Kinda like I always used to make fun of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Until the day after my first half marathon. It came on the radio when I was in the line of the Tim Horton’s drive thru. Maybe I was still deficient in electrolytes or mildly dehydrated, but suddenly those words had meaning. And I sat in my car and I cried and I nodded and I thought “It’s true, Miley. It’s so true.” (Saying things twice is always much more dramatic. I learned this from watching Little House on the Prairie.)
I still have a big mouth. I’m still loud, and talk too much, and say things I wish I didn’t. But I have learned. I’ve learned that when you speak, when you say the real stuff, suddenly, it’s not scary any more. In fact, it’s the only thing that has the power to take that fear away. Because when you let the words come out - when you feel them, and you mean them, and you let them go - you can finally breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Thank you.
This is my voice. And now, even fully hydrated, I can nod and say “Why yes John Mayer, you are so right. With a heart wide open, I will say what I need to say. Thank you, I won’t punch you, and please have yourself a nice day. Oh, and p.s. - it really is about the climb. It really is.”