Speechless

In so many ways, I am a chatterbox. I will talk to people I know, strangers on the street, sometimes even someone in a passing car. I use my ability to converse as a way to bond with people. I don’t like small talk, I want to delve into the serious, meaningful, often uncomfortable topics. I don’t care much about the weather, but I care deeply about everyone’s story. As people open up to me through conversation, it’s natural that a connection is formed between us. Though intangible, it can be quite strong, even after only a single encounter. I have found that most people feel closer to someone after sharing their personal perspective. Whether it is a person who is used to opening up to others or not, the act of revealing our inner thoughts brings people together. I don’t pretend to know exactly why it happens, but I see time and time again that talking personally allows walls to come down and relationships to take hold. Because relationships are what energizes me, I love being gifted with a person’s confidences. Their act of sharing with and trusting me fuels my affection back to them. I hear their stories and secrets and I protect them; I give them value and respect. It’s a beautiful, magical, verbal dance.

Given my passion for these verbal connections, it is surely absurd that I have so often been unable to give the gift of my own words in romantic settings. I hate to admit this because it is so unfortunately true. I built a successful career as a lawyer; words were my golden tools of trade. Anyone who knows me will cheerfully relate story upon story about how my words overflow even in the least opportune settings.  The fact that I have frequently been struck completely dumb by a passionate kiss is almost laughable even to me. Except that it’s not. I don’t like the feeling that words are stuck within me, unable to escape. Those words are my response. They contain my feelings, my passion. I want to share them with my partner; those unformed sounds are my gifts to give. Yet, they are silenced, contained and denied the chance to snuggle into another heart. I am left to hope that my eyes convey even some of the beautiful thoughts swirling in my head.

I share this now because I have been working hard to find my own romantic voice and I realized that I am not the only one suffering from this situational silence. Many of us have spent lifetimes enduring the awkward inability to convey feelings into words and we accepted the loss as permanent. It was only within the past few years that I decided to challenge my limitations. I realized that my reliance on verbal communication in all other aspects of my life was clear indication to me that words are the mainstay of my connections. I was fooling myself thinking that an absence of verbal communication within romantic settings was acceptable for me or my partner. I was denying both of us the fullest experience. It was like serving ice cream sundaes and not even offering whip cream. I wanted to be able to bring everything possible to my romantic life and I was willing to work hard to improve.

Actions speak loudly, but words can add beauty and emphasis, not to mention clarity and encouragement. When those of us who become vocally paralyzed step out of our own awkwardness and we visualize romantic partners engaging in an intimate act (be it love making or cooking or holding a door open), it is easier to see how verbal communication could contribute greatly to the connection between the people. For instance, picture a couple in the kitchen cooking dinner for a special evening together. They can touch hands, exchange smiles, even kiss as ways of physically connecting to each other. These can be beautiful actions and we can see love expressed in this way. However, if we run the scene again and we add even a few vocalizations to the exchange such as “Your big hands make this much easier”, “Your lips are so soft”, or even “It’s so great to be here with you”, the energy increases dramatically. The love and attraction are focused, directed to the specific moment and person involved; it is almost impossible to ignore a physical act that is accompanied by words. Why is that so many famous on screen kisses are preceeded by the phrase “May I kiss you?”. The double whammy of intention and action is powerful and seductive.

If you want to improve your ability to communicate verbally in romantic settings, try starting in easier settings first. One suggestion is that the next time you are with someone you care about, think about using your voice to express even a single positive feeling. Tell your friend that you value them. Tell your lover that they made you happy when they did _____. Tell your neighbor that you were excited they called you. Tell your child that their hugs feel like pure happiness. It doesn’t matter what it is, just practice expressing your pleasure vocally. When these things are easy, up the ante a little bit. Tell your lover that their kiss delights you, or that their hand in a certain place pleases you. Don’t worry about when or how you say it, just keep trying to say true positive things every day that are a little bit difficult for you. As you get more comfortable, go a little further. Try to express a feeling during an intimate moment. For example, if you catch sight of your partner in a mirror while they are getting dressed and you enjoy the image, tell them. “You look wonderful, even when you aren’t fully dressed.” Or, “your hair just makes me want to run my hands through it.” Again, don’t worry about creating beautiful prose, simply try to express your thoughts with words to the one you love. When you can do this more easily in less intimate settings, it will be easier to try in more heated moments. You don’t have to start with anything more than “I like kissing you” or “I feel safe in your hugs”; it’s just important to start vocalizing. Focus on keeping it simple and true. Then, practice, practice, practice.

I hope that you, like me, will find that this exercise not only helps you avoid situational vocal paralysis, but it also helps you focus on the positive emotions that your loved ones foster within you. You will be looking for the good things upon which to comment and they will be feeling fine from all the positivity you are sharing. Suddenly, everyone is smiling more. And when people smile more, they love more. So use your voice, air out the good things instead of only the bad and hopefully soon, you will never have to worry about being speechless again.

 What to learn more? Salon "Let's Make Some Noise!" on January 12, 2016 to discuss more about it. Click here for more information.