After Rigby's birth I complained to Andrew that I felt like I was losing my voice. I would open my mouth to speak and it would felt like I'd lost control of my vocal cords, it felt like those moments in a dream when you try to cry out or scream and nothing comes out - that moment when you suddenly realise that none of it is real and wake up.
I thought maybe I had a cold, though a very selective one that would only stop me from speaking when what I was saying wasn't me. Trying to cajole Sebastian using the concocted phases from one parenting book or another, or when I would try and tell someone everything was awesome. It was almost like my body had finally had enough of the bullshitting and was sending a message to my mind - be sincere or be quiet. The problem was my mind was so busy worrying and scripting that she was slow to catch on, the realisation came one moment when I, frustrated with all the steps it was taking just to get a thought vocalised decided to take a short-cut, open my mouth and let whatever was going to come out come out. It did, and loudly, the tenor of my own voice took me by surprise and I almost cried in shock and joy.
I'm taking tiny steps to reclaiming my voice - allowing myself to drop the multiple layers of verbal filtration when I'm at home, working towards doing it with other family and even the occasional stranger.
It is hardest with strangers and those are the moments when my fight or flight response comes roaring at me like an ocean wave. I get all sweaty and turn red and feel a bit like I am 16 again trying to buy cigarettes from the corner store, afraid of what being caught could mean (would they call my parents? The cops??). But in the two experiences I've endured this week, I stood my ground and did my very best to remind myself that the worst thing that could possibly happen is I might (unintentionally) offend someone whom I would likely never see again. It was so much harder than I can intellectually justify, which makes my pride about overcoming it also feel a bit unjustified, but I am so proud of myself - one for taking part in an important study on maternal care and two for taking care of my son's poor scalded tongue and telling the pissy, dismissive staff at my local coffee that their kid's steamed milk ought not be so freaking hot.
In other self-improvement news, I am swearing much less. I have nothing against swearing, but for me it was getting to be such a habit. The funniest thing is I did realise I'd stopped swearing until I did swear and it felt shocking. (Essentially, fuck is about the only swear I've stopped using, but it is also the one that peppered my speech the most).