Thankful I Can Now Formulate Thoughts, and Speak Them

There was a time a few years ago, when my health was at my worst, that I had a very difficult time speaking.  While I had thoughts, feelings, and needs to express, my mouth and my tongue did not respond.  When words did come out, it was after a lot of focus, concentrating on each part of my mouth, tongue, and throat as well as breathing control.

This post, coming 2 days before Thanksgiving, may be timely to fit this holiday spirit of being grateful.  But my sudden inspiration to share the gratitude of the gift of speaking comes not from the Thanksgiving spirit but from the impressions I got tonight from participating in Confirmations at the Temple.

As I spoke unhindered for 40 confirmation names tonight, and hearing my own voice clearly as the only speaking voice in the room, I was literally amazed how effortless it sounded.  Without having to slowly mouth the words, stuttering, or repeating phrases that weren’t making it from my eyes, through my brain, to my mouth correctly.

Such a contrast to how stressful and how much of a challenge it was to even say anything a few years ago.  I’ve worked hard the last few years to regain my ability to speak, including getting on the webcam to do financial interviews with traders around the world.  Challenging myself to do what had become very hard to do.  And for the last 2 or so years, speaking has become “natural” again, though I feel I still speak slow.  However, tonight was probably the first time I stepped back and really appreciated the how far I’ve climbed back up in this part of my health.

An appreciation that, I believe, is different from someone who is born a mute or with speaking disabilities.  The difference is of “having had, but lost” instead of “never had.”  For my food allergies, 99% of the things I’ve never tasted, thus those things don’t exist in my experience and not eating those things is pretty much irrelevant to me.  However, having had the ability to speak my mind for most of my life ( though speaking was labored from my asthma) it was extremely though mentally to adjust.

It was extremely frustrating to have thoughts, needs, and feelings and not being able to properly express them.  Especially since I was in a lot of pain at the time and experiencing a lot of depressive emotions as doctors had given up and all hope seem lost.  I felt as though my mind was in a prison.  While I knew, as an idea, what I wanted to say, and naturally, without extra thinking, my mouth should just open and the words formed.  But they didn’t.  As my mouth opened, the words didn’t come.  Something that was so effortless before, and is so effortless to most people (including my sister, who can talk incessantly for hours.)  Interestingly though, the same thoughts effortlessly transformed into keystrokes and words on screen whether if I was chatting or writing.  So, it was a constant daily struggle to turn thoughts into words and somehow control my mouth and muscles to make those words come out.

It was really really exhausting.  And continued to be for a few years.

Taking a long time to speak was also frustrating, then not speaking the exact right words to express how I’m really feeling.  On top of that, it was frustrating for my family and those trying to communicate with me.  It really tested the patience of both me and whoever was listening, especially under the stress our whole family was under as my life seemed to be fading quickly.

Often I thought of how many others must be frustrated and even angry when they can’t communicate their thoughts and feelings with those around them.  Those who are born mutes or have speaking disabilities.  But they may be able to write, which gives them some outlet.  Then there’s babies and animals.  They can only depend on whether other humans can read their expressions and behaviors.  Still, much is lost in such forms of communication.

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