There’s a journey I’ve been going on, more internally than anything, ever since I’ve had issues with my vocal cords. If you see my page at all, you probably get a small idea as to how much music means to me. Music has shaped my life in so many ways, none more than when I’m going through a difficult time. When I was a teenager, I could fall asleep with my headphones on listening to Pillow Talk on KEZK 102.5FM with Gary Golander. The soothing sound of his voice and the music with meaningful dedications & requests just put me to sleep. On days when I was hurting, my choices were music to induce crying or ones that made me want to scream — either way, I always felt better just listening for awhile…sometimes a long while.
As I got older, music took a much more personal tone when I began to completely let go and sing. Singing always gave me a sort of release, one that I couldn’t get from anything else. Back in the days when I was spending way too much time making poor decisions, I always felt grounded when I sang. Music could take me to another place no matter where I was in the moment.
When I first started getting hoarse and the words would literally not come out, I wasn’t really sure what to think at first. I mean, I don’t make a living off of singing, nor do I ever want to. But when I found out there was this little thing on my vocal cords that could potentially affect my voice for the rest of my life, I’ll admit, I did begin to worry. Thoughts raced, my mind wandered and the words “What if…” replayed in my mind as I prayed them away every, single day. Fast forward to the doctor telling me I couldn’t talk for a week, no singing for 6 weeks, that was a sort of “hard” that I still cannot put into the right words. Up until I saw the vocal therapist for the first time last Thursday, I was anticipating being able to sing again soon and basically learn how to sing again. My speaking voice was absolutely fine but singing, I couldn’t reach the Whitney or Mariah notes that I have been able to in the past. It worried me.
When I was in her office, she asked me to sing something. Way to put me on the spot! I wasn’t even sure where to start so she asked me to sing Amazing Grace. How appropriate. After asking me to do a few silly exercises, she told me some very encouraging things and then said something that, for the first time, I felt to be true. She told me that I had a beautiful, natural voice. She said that many times she has to “teach” people to sing but that, with me, she doesn’t need to do that, only help me to learn some ways to sing at my best. I’m not saying this for a pat on the back, I’m sharing this because I truly believe that sometimes, it will take some convincing but we need to believe someone when they tell us that we’re good at something. That there is a natural talent inside of us that we should work to improve upon. It doesn’t have to be something that we use for our job or even for anyone at all. Even if it’s only for ourselves, we cannot and shouldn’t feel discouraged for wanting it so badly. In that moment, when she asked me to sing Amazing Grace, I felt a peace come over me. I would understand why a little later.
We ended our session and she told me to come back with a Whitney Houston song, a country song and an Evanescence song, all of which we worked on very briefly in our session. I got in the car and I cried. This time, “learning to sing” felt different. I started playing some of the songs that I’d recorded in my friend Ron’s basement almost 10 years ago. Ron has since passed and I haven’t sang “those songs” in front of a crowd in at least 8 years. The next morning, I got on the elliptical and for 30 minutes straight, I listened to those recordings. Rough recordings in a basement where I probably had a beer in one hand and microphone in the other. I critiqued myself, but I listened. It made me cry. I was in such a different place then. The songs were either sad or angry because I felt hurt and often covered it up by singing and drinking. I was hiding but I didn’t know until now what I was hiding from.
Almost 10 years later, I feel sorry for myself back then. I feel sorry for actions that I made that didn’t reflect the person I was inside. But I feel grateful for those times as well because they made me who I am today. When I listened to those songs, I thought of how much more mature my voice is now and what I could do to improve on the first recordings. But then I thought about how much more mature I am now as well. The person I am today is the same as she was back then, only I’m not hiding behind anything anymore. If I were to sing songs today that reflected my life, they would definitely have a different tone. I am so appreciative of the time in my life where I learned something because every lesson led me right here to where I am today. I’ve been so emotional over the past 2 months. I cry so easily at the littlest things but I realize that it’s me FINALLY healing from things in my past. I’m dealing with emotions that I wasn’t sure how to deal with back then. Hurt from people who were unkind to me, pain from choices that didn’t reflect my true self, discouraged from times I wasted the day away, sad about the moments I felt alone. But you know something? I wouldn’t trade a thing.
After the concert on Saturday night with Aubrey, I shared my experience on the elliptical with her. I talked about how sad and angry the songs were and shared how it reflected how I felt inside. Shortly after, we passed by Cardinal Glennon and I got emotional again. Thinking back on the first 3 1/2 years of her life where that hospital became our second home. So much was going on that I didn’t know how to be me so I just was who everyone wanted me to be. It may have started in high school I suppose but it didn’t end until about 10 years ago.
I really think there were moments of my life where I just forgot to breathe. Then one day, I just woke up and I was breathing. I didn’t even realize I had stopped until this weekend. I told God when 2018 started that I was going to live this year with intentionality. Little did I know that it meant I would be dealing with some things in the past I thought I had already dealt with. God settled in me some harsh feelings I had within myself over how I had acted in the past, then He told me that I was always one in the same to Him. He loved me then, He loves me now and His love, well, it never changed. My past is part of who I am. Every experience, every choice, every thought, they are all pieces of what has made me who I am today.
My emotional moments have been filled with times of gratitude for the people in my life who have shown me such grace. Yesterday, for example, I was able to spend the day with two friends who mean the world to me. They have both loved me for me. I am grateful to them and all those who have loved me through my worst and seen me to my best. I have been shown so much grace over the years and am so thankful for that.
I really feel like I’m breathing again. It’s as if a light bulb went off. I was Scrooge and the ghost from Christmas past was shining a spotlight on my past. Then, in the present, it was good, really good. And now, I see a glimpse of the future, but not in the daydream kind of way in which I used to live. I can tell now that real life is going to be good in the future because it’s so good in the present. I’m learning each day how to better deal with struggles. I’m letting go of things that don’t matter and really trying not to allow myself to think on things that cause unnecessary feelings. Of course I have my moments, I always will, but I’m able to get over things quicker. I don’t put in my headphones and try to get into another world in hopes that everything will disappear and I’ll wake up to a new day with all my problems gone. Nope. Today I turn the music up on the loud speaker in my kitchen, I dance around and tackle things head on. I love who I am but I’m excited on who I’m going to be. At heart, I’ll always be the same but I’m getting wiser along the way.
So to close this mini book, I think I’ll say that one day in the next year, I’d like to record songs again. Although I want to do some of the same, sad songs because I just like the songs and artists, I’ll be adding some new music to the list. Songs that reflect my life, overcoming obstacles, being the person God has called me to be and just truly loving who I am and the life I have. I’m breathing again and it feels SO GOOD. Maybe one day I’ll share a few of those songs. Until then, I think I’ll just practice my silly voice exercised and prepare for the best concert in my shower that I (and my walls) have ever heard!
Thanks for listening friends. This is very personal but I’ve learned that part of healing (for me) is to share from my heart. My morning devotional reflected this very thought:
“There is such security that comes when we are safe in the arms of God. It is when we become secure in our relationship with God that we begin to allow the past to fall from us as a garment. We remember it, but choose not to wear it! I am convinced that resting in the relationship we have with God heals us from the feelings of vulnerability.”