A Sweeter Gift. (How Losing My Voice Brought Me Peace)

I sang for 3.5 hours today. And it feels like a miracle.

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I know I’m probably boring you as I continue to talk about my voice. As I continually make announcements that it’s getting/gotten better. I know. Really, I do. But I’ve been singing for hours at a time consistently over the past couple of months and I really finally know that I’m going to be okay. Truly. My fear of singing has dissolved and I have this sense of complete elation. I can do anything.

It’s been hard. Really hard. Like the day I was supposed to go over to this man’s house with a small group and play a few of my songs. A sort of artist/sharing get together. I was worried. I took an aspirin, then binged on food cause I was so anxious. It was probably something stupid like carrots and hummus. Who binges on carrots and hummus? I do. Apparently. This other older gentleman, a fan of my music had heard about my voice and got me these crazy Not-Sold-in-the-US Esophaguard pills. I had taken them for a little while when he first gave them to me and I felt like they helped. I decided to try one so that maybe it would guard my throat against the acid from the food that was pushing up against my stomach valve. I take a pill and a few seconds later, I can’t breathe. Some sort of chemical reaction with the pills and the food and the fullness fizzled, sending acid up my throat. It was burning. I literally could not breathe. Oh my god. I gasped for air and threw myself on the ground of my concrete backyard. Still not breathing. I forced myself to cough, the burning getting worse, but at least giving me some air. I laid on the ground coughing and spitting up for 10 minutes.  “I literally almost died,” I thought.

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That was one of the worst episodes, but I can’t tell you how many times the pain in my throat sent me on a physical or mental tailspin into a panic attack or depression. And nobody knew unless I told them. My singing still sounded good, of course, but it was killing me.

So it’s such an extreme blessing to be able to sing for 3.5 hours today and have my voice feel great. I started being able to sing without pain at the end of April this year and since then have been dealing with vocal tiredness after singing and occasional discomfort/difficulty breathing, but now, even that has faded into a memory. I have to watch my diet and moderate caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods. I have to exercise, manage my stress and anxiety and always tell the truth about how I’m feeling. I have to practice speaking with ease, having full breath support, and singing more fluidly than I used to. But those are all pretty good habits that I should be doing anyway. My vocal problems just forced me to adapt them.

And I have to say it’s the first time I’ve really been grateful for losing my voice. I used to try to be optimistic about it: “Oh, I’ll learn from it.” “Oh, everything happens for a reason.” But I didn’t 100% believe it. I knew that I was grateful that losing my voice brought me back to New York, which led me to be in the right time and place to meet the love of my life (even though I had to work in a coffee shop to do it!) but I was still scared and felt like I had lost so much time creatively. I felt like I was a failure.

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Now, I know for a fact that that’s not true. I know that this whole experience has made me into a much stronger person. A person with a miraculous story to tell. A person that had to trust in time, healing, and themselves to overcome.

Losing my voice was the worst possible thing that could have happened to me just as I was about to be a full-time singer/songwriter. Except death.  I mean, Death…would have been worse. You know how they say to think about the worst thing that could happen and you’ll feel better cause it’s usually not THAT bad? Well, the worst thing DID happen to me. And it was way worse than anything I could have imagined. And even still, I’m okay. I got through it. It took almost 2.5 years, but I feel fully on the other side. And I will most likely never have to go back to that pain. And if it does come again – I know I’ll get through it.

That knowledge and self-trust is a gift you can’t pay for with money. You have to pay for it in pain, sweat, tears, and time. But today, I can honestly say that if I was given a magic wish that could prevent me from losing my voice 2.5 years ago, I wouldn’t use it. And being at peace with the past…is a sweeter gift than anything.

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