Unlearning to not speak

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Have you ever felt like a “prisoner of words?”

It took me over 30 years to learn to speak with my own voice. Before that time, I did what others thought I should do and said what others thought I should say. My life belonged to them, not me. This poem by Marge Piercy captures what that feels like.

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Unlearning to not speak

Blizzards of paper

in slow motion

sift through her.

In nightmares she suddenly recalls

a class she signed up for

but forgot to attend.

Now its too late.

Now it is time for finals;

losers will be shot.

Phrases of men who lectured her

drift and rustle in piles:

Why don’t you speak up?

Why are you shouting?

You have the wrong answer,

wrong line, wrong face.

They tell her she is womb-man,

babymachine, mirror image, toy,

earth mother and penis-poor,

a dish of synthetic icecream

rapidly melting.

She grunts to a halt.

She must learn again to speak

starting with I

staring with We

starting as the infant does

with her own true hunger

and pleasure

and rage.

By learning to trust myself, I finally began to speak my own truth, however fumbling it may be at times. And I learned what a fierce and wonderful thing my own life can be. Now I’ve made a pact with myself that no one will ever shut me up again. This causes its own challenges at times, but I’ll take it over silence any day.

The Opening of Eyes

by David Whyte

That day I saw beneath dark clouds

The passing light over the water

And I heard the voice of the world speak out.

I knew then as I have before

Life is no passing memory of what has been

Nor the remaining pages of a great book

Waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.

It is the vision of far off things

Seen for the silence they hold.

It is the heart after years of secret conversing

Speaking out loud in the clear air.


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  1. … you will speak your own voice, Pandora … for if you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have learned so much from you.

    But you also listen … really listen, to what folks say and when you do speak, it is in response to what is actually said — something I find very rare (and also find difficult to do!).

    Happy Sunday to you!

    • Edger on February 17, 2008 at 17:26

    Oh, oh… NL is unplugged and making big ripples again.

    Watch out, her ripples could be blinding… 🙂

    Good morning, NL!

  2. After years of rolling my eyes and walking away I am struggling to find my authentic voice. I silenced myself out of a sense of personal isolation and disconnect that I am still meandering through.

  3. that if you’re lurking out there today in dharmaland, you’ll see this as an invitation to jump in and let us have the pleasure of hearing your voice. We’d LOVE to hear from you!!

    • Edger on February 17, 2008 at 18:12

    You have to use your imaginator to supply your response to people who try in vain to shut you up, and to supply the video in this video. 😉

    • RiaD on February 17, 2008 at 20:04

    had me in tears…

    i seem to be very raw the last several days. things are hitting deeply at unexpected moments…

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