A Story of Voice Damage

When I was 21, I sustained a voice injury that altered my blogging.

In Jen Lee‘s Finding Your Voice. Jen defines a voice injury as:

… a loss in your freedom, your confidence, or in what you feel is fair game to say and share.

At 21, I was identifying as a Christian, and struggling horribly with maintaining that identity. I was dating the man who would become my husband. I blogged fairly candidly in those days about my struggles with my faith, my identity within the Church, and my struggles with sex (aka my boyfriend and I were doing it, and I felt G-U-I-L-T-Y). In those days, I was spending a great deal of energy trying to please the other Christians in my life while still trying to maintain some sort of candid honesty about my shortcomings and struggles so others knew they weren’t alone.

Somewhere along the way, I thought it was a good idea to share my blog URL with the church leadership.

It wasn’t.

I don’t really recall what the straw that broke the camel’s back was… but one afternoon I found myself staring down the barrel of a critical email from the pastor of my church. He’d had enough, and decided to call me out on my shit.

I remember he had cited a post where I’d talked about not believing in God that I’d written well before my conversion and accused me of writings not becoming of a young Christian woman. He accused me of being mentally ill and in need of therapy. He told me that I needed to delete my blog.

My internal reaction was along the lines of “Fuck you, asshole” but outwardly I chose to react passively. I didn’t respond to the email. I shared it with my boyfriend and he agreed that the pastor had crossed a line, and we never went back to church. One of the other church elders called me a few weeks later to ask whether or not I wanted help to find a therapist and have the church pay for it. I politely said I’d think about it and promptly never did. I wrote Christianity off as a failed experiment.

And… I internalized the message that something was severely wrong with me for posting my thoughts online. I’m constantly paralyzed by fear when I try to write because I’m irrationally afraid that I’m going to offend someone for just being honest about where I’m at.

I try to look back on it with a degree of maturity and understanding. I don’t believe my pastor was trying to be a malicious jerk. I believe he was genuinely concerned, the words he chose expressed himself poorly and caused me to assign a tone to them that he probably didn’t intend, and we probably had a difference of opinion on what was acceptable information for public consumption.

It’s been seven years and I’m still trying to let it go. I’ve forgiven him for it, but I’m still trying to undo the damage that was done to my ability to not be ashamed of my story and where I’m at.

3 thoughts on “A Story of Voice Damage

  1. I can see how that would injure your voice and cause you to filter what you write. šŸ™ I hope that you continue to make great strides against it!

    I have a friend/acquaintance here in Columbus, Sarah. She runs this blog called The Naked Redhead where she also shares a lot about her upbringing (conservative Christian), sex, marriage (and divorce), and her life. You might be interested in some of the things she has to say. I find that sometimes just connecting and engaging with people can really help open up the floodgates.
    Jess recently posted..Choosing Your LiquorMy Profile

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