Addiction and mental illness can cause us to become completely disconnected from our inner selves, so much so that we lose sense of who we are. We lose our voice. Our voice is how we communicate our innermost thoughts and feelings with the world, with the people in our lives, and with ourselves. It’s how we express ourselves. Losing our voice can be extremely painful. We might feel silenced by other people, particularly if we’re in toxic or abusive relationships. We might have developed patterns over the years of silencing ourselves as a coping mechanism for our pain, thinking that we were protecting ourselves in the process. We think we’re preventing more harm by suppressing our emotions and our self-expression. We come to associate speaking our truth with being attacked by other people, being shunned, hated, or controlled. We think it’s safer to stifle our voice instead. As we’re recovering, some of our most important work will be to reclaim our voice and begin to feel confident enough to use it again, for our own expression and for the good of the people around us.
When we lose our voice, we also lose our sense of self, our belief in ourselves and our faith that we can be happy. We give up on ourselves. We don’t feel our voice has value. We don’t believe in our worth. We often don’t know our purpose or feel we have a clear sense of direction. We feel lost. We feel confused, isolated and alone. Losing our voice can make us feel as though we have nowhere to go, no safe refuge, no recourse against the debilitating illnesses we’re up against. Our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues overwhelm us so much, with such deep sadness, fear and shame, that it can feel too painful to speak out loud, let alone to claim our voice for the world to hear.
As we’re regaining our self-confidence, let’s practice speaking our mind. Let’s find safe spaces and relationships in which to express ourselves. Let’s use writing and other healing tools to help us release all of the things we’ve left unsaid for so long. Let’s remind ourselves that the world needs our unique voice. It needs our lived experience. We’re here to teach and inspire each other. The more we access our voice, the more we have to share with others, the more we can be a lifeline for others who are suffering.
We heal ourselves as we reclaim our voice. We regain our sense of worth and purposefulness. We learn that losing our voice, and then finding it again, are part of the healing process and the journey of self-discovery, self-empowerment and self-liberation.