Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tired of No Voice

Last night, like the night before, and the night before that...

I had no voice left. Maybe, during these day I have been managing a croak when needed. Yesterday, I knew that I couldn't even risk that. I didn't talk during the day. AT ALL.

You might be able to figure out from this blog that I like to express myself A LOT and OFTEN. I've been heard to say, "I can't think unless I hear myself say it." So, imagine how hard is has been for me not to speak...

not to my co-workers at the conferences...

not to the other teachers during round-table talks...

not to my kids...

and not to my friends.
There was one strange moment for me when I was visiting the booth displays at RiverCentre. I only said a very few things to those wanting to greet me. I knew that, in hejab, I had to be pleasant. But then, I freaked out.


That was me uttering a guttural squeal. The Gutherie Theatre was doing a new production of the play that got me the most local notoriety. The booth was giving away little pins with the show's title.

"You know this show?" I asked the man standing there.
He started in on some discourse on Arthur Miller and the history of American theatre.

"No, I mean..." I tried to find my voice. I had my words, but I wasn't able to get them out, "I was I was Catherine!" I tried to tell him which local theatre it was.

Did he hear me? Understand me? I was this woman in hejab who couldn't talk.

Then I saw the button with, "WALKING WAVY," written on them. I squealed again, "That was one of my lines!

But, I wasn't connecting. My voice wasn't allowing me to connect.

The last button I picked up said, "Paper Doll," and I did feel as if I were less than human.
That was with a stranger.
Last night, I dealt with two of the people who have been closest to me and it was even more frustrating.

AbuBoo came over with the toaster oven he doesn't want. He brought food. He could watch his son while I got time to myself. It was nice. No complaints (oh, except from somebody reading this blog who wants to complain that we shouldn't be alone together--keep reading). After dinner, Mr. Boo was playing with his dad's phone and, since I've been unable to call my mom, I asked if the two guys could call.
Big mistake.
Mom had found a car for me. $2,800. She was going to take it to the mechanic. She arranged for me to take a small loan out from the bank. The whole thing was orchestrated without my input.
I told her, "No, I don't want a loan. It goes against Islam."
I handed the phone to AbuBoo, thinking he'd explain.
The two of them talked about me like I was unable to make a decision with my priddy widdle head. Heard the whole thing, as the phone was set on speaker still. They talked about me like I wasn't there!

"Yes, she does have to get a car right away."

All the time I was shaking my head.

"She can afford a couple hundred a month."

I was gesturing wildly. I will never again inshahallah be sucked dry by riba.

"Or, if YOU co-sign, then I can put the loan in my name," and that was from the man who just went through bankruptcy.

I started hitting the arm of the chair and holding out my hand for the phone to come back to me.

AbuBoo kept talking and motioning for me to be quiet. Me? It's only MY LIFE!
I couldnt' take it any longer and grabbed the phone.

"Stop! Stop!" which would normally be a shout, but sounded like a hoarse whisper.

The phone call ended and the argument began. I was blamed for getting Mr. Boo sick by taking him out in the cold mornings. I was blamed for not thinking ahead to the next step in my life. It was too hard to hear and even harder not to respond to. I walked out of my own apartment.

I calmed down and when I returned I asked him to leave. He wondered if he should go to the store for me. No. I didn't want anything else. I did that in spite of my wants for a few items. It wasn't worth it to me any more. AbuBoo got ready to leave. Mr. Boo freaked out. The whole scene was HORRIBLE.

Now, I do try to see the reasons for horrible experiences. I see this one on many levels.

On a very personal level, I have got to be in command of my own life. I cannot have others, let alone others who don't have the same ethical standards, decide for me what is right and wrong in my life. Never again.

It has me seeing that allowing AbuBoo to be welcome in my apartment, has him feeling like he's welcome to comment and take charge. He becomes a pseudo authority figure
And this car issue is huge. It's looming larger with every degree that falls every day. I do have to figure it out. I did ask Al in Cal via messenger (no voice needed) what his thoughts were. He, God bless him, started off with being supportive of my need to stay good with Allah. He heard all my needs and limits and then worked out a plan. That's actually what he does for a living and it was great to see how he handles clients. I might just follow what he said.

OK, now on another, more global level, all of us understand the issue of having no voice.

It's parents not listening to kids.

Or husbands not listening to wives.

Or canidates not listening to voters.

We can see all ourselves as not being heard. We can also see ourselves as the well-meaning go-doer who doesn't pay attention to the signals from the one we are pitying. Most of the time, we vacillate between victim and the perpetrator throughout our lives. Lots of times, we allow others to victimize us. People will only treat us the way we have allowed them to treat us.
I do want help, that's true, but I need to remember my own thoughts, needs, and goals. I can't have anyone's help over-ride who I am and who I want to be.
When, inshahallah, I do get my voice back, I will use it less and use it more effectively.


Anonymous said...

Asalamu Walaikum Sis,
I heard once, totally not sure if it is true-that one of the sahaba used to keep two pebbles in his mouth to remain mindful of watching his speech. I tried it, totally works! I need a refresher :(

hfm said...

It's amazing how out of your experience you have been able to teach us all an important lesson.
Often enough voices are left unheard and important decisions are made without consultation with those invovled.I really hate that.

Amazing is the power of mashwara-conferring with all those with an esteemed opinion.That way-everyone is happy.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Dearest Brooke,

Have I told you lately that I love you? It's a song...but it's also a true sentiment.

Thank you for commenting. And thank you for being wacky enough to ACTUALLY put pebbles in your mouth. AND...thank you for your DO NOT PUBLISH message (I'll keep the info just in case--inshahallah, something else will come together).

Asalamalaykom hfm,

You are soooo welcome to come back any ole time. Lots of good comments from you today :) I appreciate your feedback.

Had to look up mashwarah and found a good site here:

Thanks for making me smarter.