I don’t know when it was I began to “get” that there is a special power in saying things out loud. It’s been a while, for sure, because I have a journal I called “Saying it Out Loud” that I started back in 2005.
Seems to me there is really actually some kind of magic to saying things aloud. For example, a few minutes ago I said out loud “I’m afraid”; then, suddenly, I wasn’t anymore!
Well. So, yes, it seems to me there’s an almost infinite power in saying things out loud.
We all know that women love to talk. Men, on the whole, don’t really seem to “get” this, and, I suspect, think much of our chatter is “idle.” Heck, I’m as impatient with some “woman talk” as any man! I have a horror of getting stuck listening to women discuss clothes & “fashion,” shopping, furniture, or OMG, renovations. Far rather watch paint dry…
On the whole, though, when woman talk we're bonding. Getting to know one another better. Sharing ourselves. As we do this, we figure stuff out – our partners, our children, our families, ourselves – the world!
Saying things out loud releases or sparks good ideas – inspirations, solutions, neat project ideas – as we're speaking. It also releases negative energy, somehow. When we can articulate out loud a thought such as “my father didn’t give a rat’s ass about me,” the act of saying this – of hearing the words spoken – takes some of the sting out of the pain one has been quietly lugging around for … decades, usually. I know I feel lighter – freer – when I just admit out loud that I’ve made a mistake, or feel hurt, or stupid, or … whatever! It takes up too much psychic energy to hold in all those things most of us are so busily holding in all the time. I’d hazard a guess that fear is a real biggie…
(I also have to add that even though I am saying all this “out loud” right now, as it were, pieces of this puzzle have only very recently come into my consciousness. I’ve too often not said out loud things that needed to be spoken. And yes, fear was – has been – a “biggie.” Hmm. Shame, also…)
Of course, in relationships with friends, colleagues & loved ones, one does need considerable diplomacy skills. As those who know me best know, mine are sometimes a bit lacking. Ahem.
I do like to think that with advancing years I'm getting a wee bit better at this – but there are a few pretty outstanding examples of when things that needed to be said weren’t, were bottled up instead, then came exploding forth at very inopportune times, in unfortunate ways. I fault myself for this, of course. I also have to articulate another truth I’ve discovered, which is that some folks are harder to be truthful with than others. I guess an awful lot of us have (metaphorical) duct tape across our mouths – our ears – & yes, our eyes too, of course…
Clearly, these kinds of dynamics are at the very heart of relationships – how & why they work, & why they so frequently don’t. I’ve had my fair share of experience in the relationship…trenches, shall we say, yet clearly I am still a mere kindergarten student. No expert as, again, the folks who know me best would be very quick to tell you.
But I am convinced of this: saying things out loud is often a very powerful thing. Speaking things out loud is in & of itself a force. It must be used carefully. That is, with care.
And when exercised well, it can be quite magically transformative.
p.s. One very tiny example of the power of the word spoken aloud: apologies. As Margaret Lee Runbeck said, “Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.”Is this not so??
p.p.s. I don’t think it’s a “coincidence,” exactly, that I’ve very recently (as in, within a week after drafting this little essay) run across the work of psychoanalyst Alice Miller. Just bought her books From Rage to Courage – Answers to Readers’ Letters and The Body Never Lies – The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting. They couldn’t be more timely – & not just for me. The personal, as they say, is political. I suspect we all – as individuals & as a culture – need to rassle with Alice Miller’s ideas about childhood & parenthood. In the words of a couple of speakers I encountered earlier this week – at two Grassy Narrows events in Toronto – we all need to de-colonize our own minds. Yup. I’m pretty sure they’re right about that… (Alice Miller once said, btw, "The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our life." No small insight, I think, that one...)
p.p.p.s. I suppose I might say more at some point about my father “not giving a rat’s ass about me.” Well, I have written about it, in an essay about crying that I haven’t yet posted. I just “got” this morning that I have felt ashamed all my life (mostly unconsciously, I guess) that this was so. As if it was my fault. Hooey! Imagine it taking me all these decades to understand that I’ve been carrying this load – that was never really my load to carry at all, but his. Well, yikes is about all I can say. Thank you, Alice Miller, for helping me finally “get” this!? (Yup, I’m a pretty slow learner…)
p.p.p.p.s. Here is what I really believe about all of it. Everything. The whole darn deal here on Planet Earth. Conversation is the whole darn deal. The whole darn karmic enchilada, if you will. I had the most amazing conversation with a couple of women a few weeks ago. The longer we sat & talked, the more amazing stuff that came out. Details not important. Suffice it to say, though, I eventually said I figured if you could get a big enough table & get all the women in the world to sit around it & yak for a really long time, pretty soon everything would get sorted out. Let’s face it, all problems (& wars) are really just a failure of communication. Give people enough time – enough conversation – & they start to understand – & care about – one another.
That’s what I think, anyway.
p.s. # 5 Sheesh! As I was reading this essay aloud (yes, best to always read written things aloud during the editorial process), this came to me: I've long thought the way things have been run on this planet are more or less "Ready. Fire!! Aim..." With more conversation, & care, & time, perhaps we could begin doing things in the appropriate order...
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show