You know how sometimes you have a desire for something but it never feels important enough. There are a million other things more urgent or valuable on the to-do list, like the practical, the rational, the immediate. You don’t plan for it or include it in your immediate plans – except it never goes away. It’s in the back of your mind, hungry but shy, like a forgotten stepchild. A desire that’s always there, always hungry – and it never gets fed.
Singing has been that desire for me. I can say that I love singing. I sing along to the radio while driving. Sing while dancing. Associate songs with feelings and sentimental moments. And I have never took singing seriously.
This past weekend, a friend was playing his guitar and he asked me if I wanted to sing something. I felt a rush of heat on my face, so much that I burst out laughing, unable to contain the sensation of excitement sprinkled with fear. “Yes”, I said, “I want to sing”.
I took a breath. I let out a sound. My voice came out of my throat, shallow and scratchy, weak and hesitant – and definitely under-powered. I was consistently missing the melody, mixing up the notes, the tune, everything. My friend supported me, guiding me where I was falling, holding the space, making it fun. We played.
And then he said, “Scream it at the top of your lungs”. I felt this deep constriction in my chest. I wanted to pull away and abandon the game. The ‘I can’t do it’ voice was about to highjack the entire experience. I do not scream.
Instead, I took another breath and I pushed my voice out – out of my gut, from the depth of my being.
My voice felt loud. Big. Too big for the room, for him. He gently affirmed me: “You are doing good.”
I kept going. I no longer wanted to hold back. I was screaming and it felt good. My voice came out with power, and with it came the melody. I relaxed into it and something shifted. I felt a taste of freedom.
This freedom – to sing, to express myself – is the antithesis to the way I have lived my life, the only way I knew how. I hushed my voice in public. I held back my truth and my desires – because they could hurt me. I was a “big” child growing up – a lot of emotions, powerful emotions. Too much for my parents to handle and approve. Too uncomfortable for my peers. I was told I am too much and that I needed to calm down and act normal. I was told I want too much. And I felt I was too much in school. In middle school, I sang in the choir – because we all had to – and I hid behind the better singers. Both success and failure meant attention so I just slipped by, unnoticed, avoiding it all. I became the girl without a voice.
I learned that was the way to be in the world. I learned to hold back my voice. I judged it the way my parents did – it’s too much. And I never permitted myself to express it. It withered away, like a muscle not used, until it was a whisper. And the cost was high – with it went my whole being.
But the desire burned on the inside. And it was more than a desire to sing. It was a desire to express myself – through music and words, through emotions and voice. I was hungry for self expression. I was hungry to regain that voice that I gave up – and in a sense, to find the woman that I gave up on a long time ago.
It was no surprise that I sang in harmony. It was no surprise that I held back from singing gutterally. And it was no surprise that my powerful voice shone through when I sang from my core.
This was a profound experience with a deeper meaning for me than merely learning to carry a tune. I realized how much I’ve lived in the background, like a support singer. How I shied away from projecting my voice and my truth. And how much power – in my voice and in my life – I really carry when I sing and act from my core.
I was cracked open. I felt my power. And I saw possibilities.
I saw this pattern flash in front of my eyes – how I keep my voice down, how I hide in many areas of my life. Work, relationships, sex. Seeing this pattern is allowing me to understand myself – why things happened in a certain way in my life, and more importantly, how I can be who I want to be and go where I want to go.
Those desires that we hide in the back of the closet are powerful – they hold a message about who we are.Trust these desires, and they will tell you what you need. They are an expression of your uniqueness and potential that is waiting to break free.
When I sang from deep inside, it was pure me to the core: feminine, powerful, dark. I felt free to be. The singer is out of the closet, and there is no turning back.