I don't have a voice?

Roland

Confident
When I was a child, I had no words to explain what was going on. At times if I did, I was yelled at for being manipulative/attention-seeking, etc.

As an adult, when I get overwhelmed and emotional, I still don't have a voice. There are many words in the English language that have negative associations, that I avoid using and so I find it almost impossible to express myself verbally at times.

I can write very well, and that helps me speak, and I make art to communicate and express myself.

But I still to a large extent feel mute in a way, like I can't talk, always afraid of saying the wrong thing and things getting worse for me because of what I said.

Does anyone else have this problem? I think it's from years of abuse and not being able to talk about emotions or what was going on. Then also being verbally and psychologically abused (my viewpoint is "wrong").

How do you deal with this?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Yes.
I was ridiculed or ignored if I expressed anything. Even mundane things. So when trauma happened: no words. Acting out in behaviours (not washing, drinking, hiding food, bit of self harm). All that resulted in punishment , ridicule , anger from parents to me. So again: silence.

So yes. If you're programmed to not speak, how do you learn to speak?

Takes time.
I couldn't even mention my mum in therapy for months as just the vision of her made me silent. So me and T agreed we won't talk about her.
Then when I did. The next session I would backtrack. T said many times "no one is here other than you and me. You can talk. You have a right to." Etc etc etc.

Baby steps maybe?
What is it you want to say but can't? Maybe start with one thing.

I had a session with my T once when she wanted me to say "I was raped and it wasn't my fault". I cried and couldn't say the words. But I practiced in my head afterwards and eventually was able to say it aloud to myself.

So for me, it was a bit at a time. Trying with one thing and then the other. And working out how to talk around things. Something's I still don't directly talk about. But I have given myself permission, mostly, to feel and to express that with T.

Idk if any of that helps.
But you're not alone.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Yes I have this. Currently I deal with it mostly by fawning. Which is a way to push people away and remain in my fantasies. So not dealing with it positively.

Like you, I find a ton of relief in writing. Like I’ll go to session, struggle with talking (T will say, “That was good talking!” when I get it out.). Then I go home and process and the next day send her an update from the voice which is talking to you right now.

Last time I started my update with, “Hi, it’s me, I’m back.” Which really shows me how separate the scared regressed person in session is from the confident writing voice.

For me the csa happened in the first three years of my life then stopped and was repressed until I was 39, so the voice thing is very much a part of my recovery too.
 
Yes I do also. Which is why I chose work that didn't require it except privately, 1-on-1. And why I don't speak up about pain, or correct people's misconceptions or mispronunciations of my name, or go to doctors, and people don't know my last name usually or age or personal business. Or often even my beliefs, opinions or preferences. I do not use the phone unless I must.

I think there are separate parts to it: Doing it, but also then feeling as though you are heard. It's hard to finally speak up and then find it is not heard or doesn't matter. Kind of reinforcing to not try to do that ever again.

So I guess practice small, and see it it is received or accepted. Because part of having a voice is having someone to speak to and acknowledge or accept it, ideally without automatic recriminations. i.e. why speak up if it is disregarded or shot down or unheard; one needs a listener. Being heard is as important as being able to speak to make it work I guess. Maybe practice at the grocery store, that kind of thing. (I certainly won't be in a choir lol).

Other parts include being believed; being treated like it matters; being treated with respect, volume, repetition, accepting tone and sound of your voice is ok-enough.

But in a big way (I) try not to be seen either.

Oddly, I could always be a motor mouth about getting others to talk, or talking about their stuff/ start with a story. Or you know, listening, supporting, consoling, making them laugh. (An Irish(wo)man's gift of locution, my mom would say.) Though those same people probably might not even remember my name. Just thank me for the conversation, +/or say it was so interesting. I'm not sure at those times if I felt heard (I don't think it was my intention or on my mind), but they seemed to feel and say they felt they were.

Good luck.

ETA, also to be understood. A voice speaking that is not understood is like a different language, why bother? It is at best not helping and at worst unnerving. Which I would suspect is a challenge for most of us with ptsd, and also for many others also. So having a voice requires learning how to communicate better also, but has risk in terms of feeling it was coherent/ understood.

Best wishes to you.
 
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ladee

MyPTSD Pro
^^^^^ Everything @CoolBreezeonahotday said. But to this day not being heard when I am in pain is a trigger for me.

Having to learn to speak where I am heard has been and remains a challenge for me. Oh I can speak and be heard when it comes to some one else's life. But speaking and being heard about my own life remains very difficult.

For me to share that I am "hurt"???? I can use 5000 words and still not say it.

So this one will always be a work in progress for me. I still don't feel heard in the world. But I always feel heard here.
 

Friday

Moderator
As an adult, when I get overwhelmed and emotional, I still don't have a voice. There are many words in the English language that have negative associations, that I avoid using and so I find it almost impossible to express myself verbally at times.
Does anyone else have this problem?
Yep. But for entirely different reasons.

No childhood trauma, no accusations or punishment around when I did speak during any of my trauma history (okay, that’s not completely accurate; I’ve taken several beat downs for speaking out of turn; and even when I’m very aware the smart thing is to stay quiet I often have to fight myself not to make things worse by wading into situations I shouldn’t), and the part of my trauma history that involved abuse actually gave me a voice I didn’t have prior (as before I would defend anyone else except myself, but years of constantly having to defend myself, taught me how to not take shit from anyone).

And still? When I get overwhelmed or emotional, I lose my ability to speak.

The only form of communication that is possible, much less easy/natural, is by expression & gesture.

It’s led me to reeeeeeally want to learn sign language… as I can use military & other codified hand signs just as easily as I can use cultural expressions, or direct a horse with my legs and seat, or “tell it to the sea”

I can write very well, and that helps me speak, and I make art to communicate and express myself.
That’s awesome. I totally lose my ability to create art, until calm and clarity reassert themselves.

I sometimes wonder if that’s why warrior cultures so often insist on pairing art, any kind of art, with both training to fight, and coming home from war.

I think it's from years of abuse and not being able to talk about emotions or what was going on. Then also being verbally and psychologically abused (my viewpoint is "wrong").
I expect it’s a common thing regardless of trauma type… but it seems very much as if the types of trauma effect it’s expression.

Like it’s a normal human thing that happens (people struggle to find the words, when they’re upset; their voice catches in their throats; their minds blank, etc.)… that is taken to an extreme version of itself under certain situations (not just PTSD &/or trauma… like it’s a very common cause of true muteism especially in children who experience profound grief/loss as well as those who live through sudden violent traumas, even with no other symptoms or disorders present), and when one is specifically looking at PTSD & Trauma? It’s not just the personalities involved, but also the types of trauma that effect the expression of the same outcome.

<sneaky grin> Which makes it an incredibly useful thing to be able to talk to others with different backgrounds… as finding finger and toe holds in otherwise impossible to scale surfaces? Priceless.

How do you deal with this?
My most consistently best way is by flanking the issue.

I can’t talk (or often even think about) about me-stuff UNLESS …me stuff might help someone else. Whether or not it actually helps, or not, isn’t my lookout. Simply that it may is enough to open a crack. It’s one reason theirs site has been so durn helpful to me.

The other two most useful things for me are

- “You’ve told it to the sea, now tell it to me.” … It’s a common thing amongst surfers. Be really upset, go get centered in the water, THEN be able to talk about difficult things with select people.

- Be with people who don’t need words to communicate, or next best with animals who don’t need words.
 
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shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
It’s led me to reeeeeeally want to learn sign language… as I can use military & other codified hand signs just as easily as I can use cultural expressions, or direct a horse with my legs and seat, or “tell it to the sea”
This is very interesting to think about. I would love to know if it would be possible to sign instead of speak. That, to me, would mean that the speech centres are shut down, not the language centres. Which means to me that executive functioning is still working.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Struggle like hell with this thing. I was thinking while making breakfast that the person I speak most to is my T. An hour every couple weeks.

Some days I don't say more than a couple dozen words. Have to guard what I say so the frustration and rage don't come out and hurt others. So much effort, so exhausting.

Having a high IQ and being left handed my thinking has always been different and in life, that brings ridicule when you live in a "follow along" world that is the education system. There is only whats in the book......and when you go past that, you need to be herded back to the group.
Always coming at the problem from a whole different direction than everyone else. Different logic. Take away what isn't until you get to what is. ADHD squirrels churning through the possibilities so fast they can't keep up.....

Art? Music! Love. Violin (Level 8 Royal Conservatory of Music), trumpet, piano, theory, history and harmony, whatever, lean to make sound then make music. Writing? I can hear it in my head as I write. My mom once told me my old violin instructors wife used to listen to my lessons - said I made music rather than playing the notes. Then the next instructor - freaked out on me about not practising. It frightened and confused me at the time. Now - it sits. Just can't. Need to spend more time in therapy so I can pick it up again. Now that I think about it - it was my voice for a long time.

Having trouble typing and putting thoughts down here scares the hell out of me. It's a big part of the voice I have left. Probably has roots in my first trauma - being unable to see. Talking to the dark..... Not knowing if anyone was listening.....
 
Totally agree with @ladee .

For me to share that I am "hurt"???? I can use 5000 words and still not say it.
When I have tried to say it, I'm met with indifference or ignoring it on the low end, ridiculing or shaming or laughing at it on the medium end, and sadistic opportunism on occasion on the severe end.
not being heard when I am in pain is a trigger for me.
For me the trigger is trying to do differently (say it) and seeing it doesn't matter. I don't matter. I think because one needs to matter to belong, to belong to have a sense of community, and have an individual sense of worth and cumulative sense to feel a sense of purpose (for existing), a reminder it isn't there but more so never changes even with effort or risking vulnerability leads me to SI. Because I feel who has the right to tell me to 'stay' when they never would, and don't care? But everyone has different experiences. Maybe it will work out good? You can only try in safe(r) places or with safe(r) people.
Like it’s a normal human thing that happens (people struggle to find the words, when they’re upset; their voice catches in their throats; their minds blank, etc.)… that is taken to an extreme version of itself under certain situations (not just PTSD &/or trauma… like it’s a very common cause of true muteism especially in children who experience profound grief/loss as well as those who live through sudden violent traumas, even with no other symptoms or disorders present), and when one is specifically looking at PTSD & Trauma? It’s not just the personalities involved, but also the types of trauma that effect the expression of the same outcome.
^^ I think this is very true.
I can’t talk (or often even think about) about me-stuff UNLESS …me stuff might help someone else. Whether or not it actually helps, or not, isn’t my lookout. Simply that it may is enough to open a crack. It’s one reason theirs site has been so durn helpful to me.
Yes that is how I am, someone's benefit if not your own.
 

Roland

Confident
Thanks everyone for the replies, sorry for not responding individually, but I appreciate everyone's insight. (It's been a busy week over here).

Those of you that brought up sign language, @shimmerz and @Friday I'm fluent in American Sign Language. I've used it before when "I can't speak" and it works like a charm. As do the other languages I speak (Spanish, Portuguese, and Esperanto) IN WRITING I mean. There's something about English words (my native language), that have words that I feel "I'm not allowed to use" or will have some type of reaction/connotation that is unnecessary/too much, where using another language forces the logic/analytical part of my brain to work.
 
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