t h e i n t i m a t e s t r a n g e r

The sound of me

without comments

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I’d never been fond of my voice.

My recorded voice in particular, which I had to listen to when transcribing minutes of meetings, was an unpleasant reminder of how I sounded — to others. I would always brace myself before the recording got to me, and I would be wincing and squirming as my voice came on — muffled and lacklustre. It always sounded as if I was speaking from a faraway place or behind something.

It was how I often chose to speak in a non-social or unfamiliar setting. I would select a lower pitch and un-emote so my words would come across louder and more measured (or so I thought) — basically, I just wanted to sound less me.

Many times, I simply chose to speak as little as I could, whether or not there was a tape recorder present.

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Having to talk so much about myself — especially my deepest and darkest fears — to a stranger once a week or so helped. As the sessions were only an hour each, it forced me to think very hard about what I wanted to say so I could effectively articulate my thoughts and feelings. I simply could not afford to waste time grappling for words or be vague — or worse, evasive — just because I was shy about my fears or ashamed about my past. And it would have defeated the purpose of seeking professional counselling.

But I also believe it was the sessions of complementary energy work which really helped me to clear a particularly persistent hurdle. On an intellectual level, I could understand how illogical my fears were, but I simply could not incorporate this knowledge to effectively change my thought processes and behaviour. It was almost as if something in me was blocked, S had ventured. Whether that was really the case, what I do know is that things progressed really fast after that

So, talking, especially about myself, was not as hard as I thought. Maybe it was because I was so used to sharing parts of myself (though never as private as the ones I told S) with strangers, albeit online and behind the anonymity of a screen and keyboard.

Moreover, I had told myself that S was only a passing stranger whose path I would not cross after this unfortunate episode, and it would not matter that she saw me at my worst.

So I could not have gone to my friends for help because I could not have beared having to look at them again after that, knowing that they know. Obviously I know better now, and that I am not alone in my fears. Still, sometimes, old habits die hard. Smile ruefully.

But more importantly, and this is the bare truth, I would not have found the impetus to work through my problems by turning to friends.

Certainly, they would have helped to relieve some tension and provided not a small measure of comfort. There would also have been several useful suggestions which I could work on. (Though frankly, my issues were so deep-seated, they would have been a challenge for any layman.)

But you see, I would have been content to just lean on my friends, and continued to elicit their encouragements and reassurances to convince myself that actually, I did not need to change — they would still accept me for who I was. So why put myself through The Gauntlet? I had nothing to lose staying the way I was, right? And I would have continued in my comfort zone, because I was too afraid to change.

But the point is not whether my friends could accept me because I know they will, either way — would I be able to accept myself and to live with my choices?

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* * *

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It just happened, the way many things do (for me), when I least expect The Change — that definitive difference that tells me things are indeed no longer as they were before. But really, it is the moment when I realise The Change has happened, and this realisation can sometimes come only weeks or months later. Life is strange like that. You don’t always see it coming.

I realised how I started speaking at a slightly higher volume, and the quality of my voice was stronger, clearer and more confident. I remember not feeling worried who would hear my voice and my words, and whether they would like my voice or what I had to say and how I said it.

In fact, I remember liking how my voice sounded. There was a resonance that made it not just a sound mouthed by lips and teeth and tongue, but an intent, want and desire coming from deeper within. It was as if my whole being resounded with my words.

Because I was no longer hiding.

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Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 28th, 2011 at 1:18 am

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