Voices in our Head

At the end of last school year, back in June, I was reading Savvy to the kids. We never finished it so yesterday I picked it up again so we could continue. This morning, I read this passage from the book:

I thought about those two gals and their constant griping and bellyaching, and my head swam with questions. If I could tell what Lester was thinking or feeling by listening to those voices in my head, why did they always talk about him like he wasn’t even there? They were always cutting him down to the quick. It seemed like those two ladies had had such an effect on him that now it was only their voices he heard loud, loud, loud. Was it their nasty chit-chat that told Lester who he was? No wonder the man had a stutter and a twitch.

Maybe it’s like that for everyone, I thought. Maybe we all have other people’s voices running higgledy-piggledy through our heads all the time. I thought how often my poppa and momma were there inside my head with me, telling me right from wrong. Or how the voices of Ashley Bing and Emma Flint sometimes got stuck under my skin, taunting me and making me feel low, even when they weren’t around. I began to realize how hard it was to separate out all the voices to hear the single, strong one that came just from me.

If you haven’t read the book, the two gals she mentions are Lester’s tattoos (she can hear people’s thoughts if they have any writing/tattoos on their skin).

After we read the chapter, I talked to David about this passage for a while. I told him how we all have that in our heads. How he should stop an pay attention to the voices in his own head and see whose they are. Like when he says he’s not good at something, is that really him or is he hearing a not-so-nice classmate who might have made a snide comment that stuck with him? I told him to make sure it’s his voice and to not let others’ voices take charge of his thoughts. (Not even his mom and dad’s.)

I explained that by the time we get to be my age, our heads are so filled with these that it gets harder and harder to differentiate whose voice originally put these thoughts in our head. We’ve carried them for so long that they feel like our own voice. But they are not. Some other person put them there. And if you pay attention from the beginning, maybe you can be better at weeding them out. Making sure your own voice is the strongest.

Because, I honestly think that we get all muddled up while we’re young and we spend the rest of our lives trying to sort through the noise in our heads. Yet another area where awareness would be a big gift.

I also told him that the other side of the coin is important, too. That other people will hear his voice in their head. And that he should make sure they hear him saying kind and encouraging things. And that it can really empower people to have a kind voice in their head. I told him how his little brother will get affected by his words so much and that’s why I make a point to ensure he’s as kind as can be. I told him that his words do matter. People do hear him and will remember. He should think of how it feels to have a discouraging, disparaging voice in his own head and see if he would ever want to be that for someone else.

The same goes for me, of course. I am trying to comb through the voices in my head. Find what’s mine. Kick the others out. And I want to be the kind, encouraging voice in others’ heads. The empowering voice. For every single person around me. I want to be that.

The story continues to say:

Climbing back up into the big pink Heartland Bible Supply bus, the morning warm and bright, I tried to listen past Carlene and Rhonda; I tried to hear if there was any of Lester’s own voice left in Lester. The more I watched and listened, the more it became clear as clear that whenever Lill smiled Lester’s way, or whenever she spoke to him as we traveled down the highway, Carlene and Rhonda seemed to lose their sway. Lill shone on Lester like the sun. And on his arms, his sleeves rolled up, the women’s scowling, animated faces dissolved back into the thin black lines of lifeless tattoos.

Maybe Lill was an angel, I thought to myself; maybe she was Lester’s angel, sent down from heaven to clear the voices from his head.

Today’s my husband’s birthday. Above all, this is the gift Jake’s given me. He has helped me clear the voices in my head. Sure he has his flaws and put some voices of his own. But he’s been there to remind me through and through that my own voice is the strongest and most worthy. I am deeply grateful for him.

Happy Birthday, my love. I love you with all my heart.

3 comments to Voices in our Head

  • Lillian

    I like the way you explain to the kids about the voices in our heads and what they are and how they are other people words that sometimes stick in our heads, and what I found dear to me was the way you also explain to them that they need to be aware of what they say too, because they will also become voices in other people heads, and what they say should be kind, loving and good, all in all very true. I find that as adults we tend to sometimes listen to those negative voices that sometimes brings us down … but I guess we can also listen to those good voices too, that make us feel great ( double-edged sword ) at times … I am sure that your readers find that you are that empowering voice that people hear and read about what you write on your blogs, in a personal and professional way. Happy Birthday to your hubby, and many, many more !

  • Cheryl

    Happy birthday, Jake. May this year be filled with wonderful memories!

  • sheri

    great post! what a gift you have given your son.

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