Introduced By Amber Hall
Continuing this month’s theme of ‘Hearing Voices: Inner Voices, Outer Voices And Connected Voices,’ I’ve been thinking about the ways writing helps us connect our inner and outer voices. It’s often easy for us to get lost in our thoughts, but writing – even if it’s left unshared – helps us organise our busy minds and find a kind of peace, and it’s partly for this reason that I’ve always written.
I’ve always written, partly for this reason. Whether I’m journaling or writing something for the world to see, it’s a helpful way for me to process the myriad thoughts passing through my head each day. Creativity has the power to reveal things we might not have considered; it shines a light on our innermost thoughts and feelings, bringing our truest selves to the fore.
It can be scary to trust our inner voice. This is where we carry the weight of our experiences. It’s often where shame resides, too. I think what creativity does is help us root out that shame, so our outer selves become a clearer reflection of who we really are.
The pieces I’ve chosen have this kind of honesty. In each, the writer shows us what lies beneath the surface, allowing us, the reader, to know and understand them better.
First, we have a poem by Lucy Brown. This raw portrayal of addiction is a powerful testament to what living with this illness looks like. I so appreciated the openness of this piece, and it reminded me how important the act of writing can be.
A blank hole, a nothing
My disease takes everything away from me,
To explain this obsession, the reason why
It is impossible for it has no meaning, no feeling,
With cunning it baffles what I think or say,
Its power overtakes me; my life is unmanageable,
With patient abundance it waits to see me fall again,
My mind it infiltrates with disease, and body
Shakes to slow the ever-present threat to life,
It takes from me all dignity and respect,
I become a bloated shell, devoted only to one goal,
To kill me slowly, painfully from sip to urgent gulp,
How many bottles will it take, how strong, how long?
Before the bitter pain of self-destruction and defects,
Allow me to live again without this obsession in my life,
Never to dwell upon or feel the broken, empty dreams,
That run slowly silently through my very being,
Robbed by the nightmare, that is my addictive disease.
© Lucy Brown, 2023
Next, Danny Baxter lifts the lid on the creative process. Our inner voices are shown to be at the heart of this extraordinary, almost mystical act. But there’s weight to our words, to the things we create, which Danny explores here. He has created a brilliant piece of original artwork to accompany the text, too, revealing the connectedness of his visual and written work.
A little awkward for some when asked to explain, as it sounds a little mystical.
The nudge, the prompt…
An inaudible yet distinct voice dictating to them that seems to originate from without.
Remote from oneself, yet speaking from within.
Like having listened to speech without sound,
Having read text without sight,
Feeling music without lyrics,
The fading resonance of a freshly delivered communication.
An incident of chemical activity.
A momentary snippet of an exchange,
A continuous transmission,
Science cannot measure nor hear.
Others do not know.
Words dropped directly into one’s inner chamber of being;
a location so familiar but difficult to describe, or even qualify.
The voice establishes a presence within this mental arena.
Private; no one else can confirm the tone, the rhythm, nor emphasis of the influence.
Assessment procedures are tasked to the individual receiving the material, the broadcast.
Experienced as an emotional vibration, queued for consideration to be assimilated into the collective archive of one’s understanding of existence.
Criteria for acceptance vs criteria for dismissal.
Classified either as guidance or hindrance, truth or error.
Differentiated by character, by orientation of spirit.
One makes a personal interpretation of the submitted signal, based upon one’s own intellectual resources,
Isolated from the appraisal of critics.
Evaluation of synergy to trusted archived reference.
People we know,
Influencers we follow,
Protagonists that represent us,
Role models that inspire us,
Vibrations we have validated,
Creeds we revere,
Attributes we attest to,
Causes we are committed to.
The obstacles that a voice must overcome to be heeded and absorbed, rather than discarded, differ from person to person, their own unique dispositions.
On entry, voices compete for attention and affirmation, conflict with one another, resonant and dissonant with one another.
Though organic and sheltered, the process is not beyond a measure of manipulation.
Habitual inclusion of new material potentially leaves our identity in a state of flux,
And the individual themselves become an embodiment, a broadcaster of the voices they have heeded, through their words and actions.
Voices can be highly influential, penetrate barriers and limitations.
They can be destructive and corruptive or the purveyors of hope, salvation…even regeneration.
To traverse this subject as one who negotiates the mechanics of the production of creative material, the element of my responsibility for what I manifested through my work is a sobering thought.
The implications of the invisible network of information carried in the vessels of words, phrases, images still and moving, is still a vast untapped scape of infinite possibilities, for good or evil, blessing or calamity.
© Danny Baxter, 2023
Follow Danny on Instagram: @dan_lbbd
Given that June is Pride Month, I wanted to commemorate the LGBTQ+ community with this piece, written by Zara Relphman. I love the honesty of Zara’s writing here, and the strength and tenacity that comes through. We see the writer’s journey as she steps into her truth, connecting her inner and outer voices, and finds acceptance. Ultimately, it’s a celebratory piece that really reflects what Pride is all about.
She Or He
The first time I ignored my inner voice was when I was nine years old and someone in my primary school asked me who I had a crush on. It said: That girl over there is pretty. I pushed it away and let my outer voice take control: He is cute!
At the time, I didn’t know what being a lesbian was. We weren’t taught it in school, and the media lacked representation back then. Somehow, something in me knew that my inner voice was still ‘wrong’ and that I shouldn’t give it power. Every girl around me dated boys, so that’s what I did, too.
I like him.
He is my boyfriend.
I want a husband when I grow up.
Sometimes, my outer actions betrayed my outer voice. I always wanted to be the daddy in ‘mummies and daddies’ games and I always felt butterflies in my stomach when my friends held my hand. I was shy around girls, but never with boys. My inner voice was trying to escape and I wasn’t letting it.
Until one day, I did.
My best friend asked me who I liked. I initially said I didn’t know and started giggling, and she did, too. Then I let it free: “ She is really pretty.” We both giggled some more and then she replied “I think so too.” It was the first bit of validation I had and it felt incredible. “I think I like you.” “Me too.”
It didn’t feel wrong or dirty. It was pure and beautiful. Two young girls admitting they liked one another. No repercussions or prejudice for what that actually meant. I was finally telling the truth. We promised we wouldn’t tell anyone, giggled some more, then carried on with our day.
All was fine until we told our school counsellor about what we were feeling. She told us that it was wrong, disgusting, that we shouldn’t tell anyone else and that she wouldn’t speak to us about it again. That was when I learnt what homophobia was. Suddenly, my new-found outer voice was forced back inside, but this time, she was hidden in a place of shame. Before, when I heard my inner voice, I didn’t know why I felt like I had to hide it. Now, I knew… and it ached every time she tried to break free.
She is so beautiful.
I want a girlfriend.
I like her.
Growing older only made it worse. I repressed my thoughts so deep, continuing to let my outer voice portray a fake version of me. One that dated so many boys in secondary school and always talked about them to overcompensate.
He’s so hot!
Have you seen the new boy?
He’s my boyfriend; we are so in love.
All until I came across a music video, Girls Like Girls, by Hayley Kiyoko. It portrayed two best friends falling in love. I broke down crying with every repressed thought from the last six years. Realising this was who I was and I couldn’t hide it any more. I like girls. I am a lesbian. I said it to myself over and over again, giving validation to the inner voice I’d judged for so long.
It was excruciatingly painful but blissful at the same time. I was finally letting my voices come together as one. I didn’t want to be a liar any more. My inner voice was finally allowed to be the one I listened to.
“Do you like anyone?”
Yeah, I like her. She is beautiful.
© Zara Relphman, 2023
Connect with Zara on Twitter and Instagram: @zlrelphman.
Cconnect with me on Twitter: @amber_marie_123 and Instagram: @amber.marie.123
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It can be scary to trust our inner voice. This is where we carry the weight of our experiences. It’s often where shame resides, too. Creativity helps us root out that shame, so our outer selves become a clearer reflection of who we really are.