So I’ve debated (in my mind) about whether or not to write this post. I don’t want any kind of sympathy because of the following story. In fact, I so hesitated to write about this, that I didn’t include anything about it in my last post about our retreat to New Mexico. It was on this trip that I realized what it meant to lose my voice and in turn get it back. As I said, I don’t want sympathy for the following story, but would rather you join me in reading the bigger picture that was at play.
For those of you who have known me a while, you already know that singing was a huge hobby of mine all throughout high school. Choirs, musicals, sporting events…you name it, I was there ready to belt out a solo, group piece, or the National Anthem. I sang at church at least one weekend a month. All in all, singing was one way that I expressed my creativity (because let’s be real, art sure as shit isn’t something I excel at).
When I went to college, I apparently wanted my experience to be the antithesis of what my high school experience looked like (SIDE NOTE: That clearly didn’t work since I got more involved than I ever was in high school and have gone on to work on a college campus now). I stopped singing, though I did look into a few choirs and such my first semester. I decided that I was going to wait to audition until second semester because I wanted to really get into the swing of school and all that involved being a college student.
In my first semester, I got into a relationship with someone from home. I truly thought, at the ripe old age of 18, that I had met the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Little did I know, I had just gotten involved with the person who would make me question everything I thought I knew about myself and truly send my life into a 180 degree spin.
Over the next two years, we were on and off and on and off and on and off (you get the idea). When we were on, I thought we were great. When we were off, it was usually because I’d done something that had warranted cheating, and it somehow was always my fault. Still, I held onto this idea that because I could see the potential in this person, if I just held on long enough, he would see the potential in himself.
Now you can probably see where this is going. Looking back now, I can clearly see that this relationship was mentally and emotionally abusive. I didn’t acknowledge it until one night, just once, it got physically abusive. Over a pack of cigarettes, I got WAILED in the chest. Like, I’m talking knock-the-wind-out-of-you, what-the-fuck-just-happened, MMA-knockout WAILED in the chest. I’m by no means making light of the situation, I just really got hit that hard. It was that moment that the stars aligned for me. Who was this person? I wasn’t the type of woman to let a man put his hands on her. The following day I went to his house, got my stuff, and (embarrassingly) hit him back.
I initially thought I was okay. It was a bad break up, they happen to everyone, and I was just going to get over it. For anyone who’s ever had any kind of break up, we all know that that’s not how it works. It was through some serious self discovery (and a short-lived stint with a terrible therapist) that I started to look at what had really happened.
Now, like I said, I don’t want this to be a sob story. And you’re probably all like, “Well how in the blue hell does this relate to your time in Texas?” Well this isn’t a story that I readily share, and even when I do share it, it’s certainly not in the detail that it’s outlined above. This weekend, I shared the fact that I’d been in an abusive relationship with all of my peers. ALL. OF. THEM. This was the first time in over 2 and a half years that I’d told a large group of people about any of this. A few people in the circle knew I’d had a bad relationship, but it was a huge point for me.
Again, you’re probably like, “Okay, Chatty Cathy, where does your voice come in?” Well on the ride home from our retreat, someone plugged in the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. To say that my van rocked out would be a gross understatement. We were having a damn good time, and for what feels like the first time in almost 3 years, I had my voice back. I didn’t say anything to anyone in my van because I would’ve gotten all teary-eyed and mushy and I’d had plenty of that all weekend long, but it felt like this enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I credit my peers here at Texas Tech for allowing me to feel comfortable enough to share my story, and truly allow me to find my voice again.
I feel like I need to end this blog with some kind of PSA about relationship violence and what you can do to help. In all honesty, I had friends and family tell me over and over that this was a relationship I needed to get out of (or never get into). Obviously, I never listened. Thankfully, when I was completely shattered, my friends and family were still there for me to help me put the pieces back together. The best advice I can give you if you know someone who’s in a similar situation is to just be there. You probably don’t need to tell them the relationship is fucked up: there’s a 95% chance that in their heart of hearts, they know. Just be there. Let them cry. Let them make mistakes. Be there to help them clean up the mess when they’ve finally realized they can’t change anything.