I watch her teeter precariously on the periphery of my past and the person I am becoming now. She’s clothed in camo so no one can see her, tucking herself away into the deep wilderness of my psyche. I smell fear in the way she tiptoes around decisiveness and scurries when I beckon to her. Most of the time, when she is invited to emerge, it’s like dragging a mule to water. As now, difficult and stubborn, she waves away the muses like flies, as I write. She is my own voice and frustratingly enough occasionally masquerades as my nemesis.
My voice explodes into my throat like a volcano that unwittingly suffocates me with its lava. But that’s as far as it travels: my fearsome voice. It gets stuck inside where I suspect it desperately tries to escape through my flesh because I was born with a blotch of red pigmentation on the front of my neck. Nature’s tattoo; just in front of my voice box. It’s an oddly shaped birthmark that resembles a Rorschach ink blotch (only in red), and it deepens in color according to the intensity of emotions behind what I have to express. Even when I sit down at my computer to write, my throat lights up like Rudolph’s nose on Christmas Eve. You should see it now, with a writing deadline tomorrow!
Tracing the origins of my inner conflict often seems to prove more futile then fruitful. I can lie myself down on a couch and summon Jung, exhaust myself with breath work, wear down my yoga mat and rationalize my emotional responses until the neurotransmitters in my head start dressing in drag, or I can just do it! Just release my voice onto the page, inviting it to a “come as you are” party. No judgment, no perfectionist critiquing, no outlandish expectations. Just pour myself onto the page, and express myself freely, as if the page is inviting me to do so, with open arms, a warm, cozy lap, and maybe some chocolate. Oh yes, definitely some chocolate! (The organic, free trade kind that’s addictive to both my palate and my ethics.)
But what do I do instead? My voice goes into lockdown, like nighttime in a prison. It squirms, it blushes bashfully, it flinches and retreats like a battered animal in captivity. This is my withdrawn, “no” stance, infecting me with an inexplicable shame that seems to mistakenly announce to the world that my voice is unworthy of being heard. Yet, simultaneously, in the core of my being, I ache, ache, ache to express myself, as if much has been gestating within me and I’m beginning to dilate.
Pushing my voice out of my being can feel just like birthing a ten-pound baby. Even after surrendering to the process, pain and euphoria are as intimately connected as tango partners. With the crafting of every article, I simultaneously work on my relationship with my own voice, and with how stuck it can get, deep down within me.
Not many people know this about me, because I suppose I appear pretty expressive on the outside, despite the battle raging within. They don’t know that when my voice soars it’s because of the triumph I feel after having gnawed my way through the chains that previously detained it, bleeding out insecurity in the process. It seems ironic that it would hurt so much to decide to be oneself! But every time I sit down to write I meditate on all that exists is this moment: do I fill it with my essence, or do I shy away from it?
In seizing the moment, I get out of my own way. My voice swims joyfully instead of flopping on a hot, dry pier. My voice drops the crutches and starts to run. I feel so alive when this happens! My arms go up and I want to do pirouettes on the beach, as I sense the whole Universe—from the sand between my toes, to the stars in the sky—affirm my existence. It’s almost congratulatory. I remember my worthiness. It’s as if I have broken through to the other side, and unicorns were waiting there for me, saying: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
By Catherine Ghosh
Catherine Ghosh is a yogini artist, writer, mother, and editor for the "Journey of The Heart: Women’s Spiritual Poetry Project." She is co-founder of The Secret Yoga Institute, serves as a contributing editor for Integral Yoga Magazine, and is a regular contributor to Mantra, Yoga + Health Magazine. Catherine is passionate about inspiring women to share their spiritual insights and honor their valuable voices. You may connect with her on FaceBook, or email her at .