I have lost my voice. It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last. Every few years it seems I get a cold that settles into my throat and I am left to whisper my way for a while.
Aside - the longest I went with out a voice was ~ 2 months. I went to choir practice w/ my violin, on which I picked my part so as to know it when my voice came back.
I've noticed several things when I'm voiceless. Interestingly, while they seem important and insightful while I'm without the ability to go above sotto voce, I tend to forget about them until the next time I loose my voice. So, here's what I notice, with the hope that perhaps I won't need to be struck dumb to remember next time.
When I'm voiceless...
I can't yell. Yes, self evident, but it has interesting applications. While I rarely "yell at" the kids, I often yell to them. We have a big house and yard, and it seems easier to shout for them than to walk all over looking for them. Now I have to think about whether what I want to say to them is worth the walk and the search. (With my chemo-brain I'm as likely to forget why I was looking for them as to remember) I wonder if not raising my voice changes how they feel about what I was going to tell them. It seems like it does - but maybe it's just that I'm right in their face when I'm "talking" now?
People don't listen easily. I take a while to say something these days, it doesn't just bounce out like it usually does. It's an effort, and not one that most folks seem to have the patience for. All those sassy little comments I make during a conversation are lost. By the time I get it out the conversation has moved on. It makes me realize how rarely anyone actually wants to hear what I say and how often (when my voice is healthy) I don't give them a choice.
All those little sounds you make during a conversation are important. You know the ones..."Uh-huh" "No!" "Then what happened?"... Also, those leading questions that help you get someone talking, or direct the conversation a bit, are far more helpful than one thinks. I can't do those as easily right now. (When I try to say "Uh-huh" it sounds like a sick mule. People are startled and concerned.) Not saying these things seems to impede conversation. I really do want to hear what they have to say, but with out some vocal encouragement most folks peter off. Perhaps they're feeling like I'm not listening?
Speaking quietly can get attention faster and more gracefully than a raised voice. I've noticed this before, even when I'm not speechless, but it bears repeating. If you want someone to really listen, quiet down. Bit Boy was telling me that he recently learned that is part of Hopi culture too.
I wonder if it seems to others like I'm singing all the time. When I can't sing, I feel like I'm missing limb. I also find that, without a voice, I pick up an instrument more often during the day. I'm not sure why I'm like this, although I'm pretty sure I've always been like this. It's a mental health thing perhaps? Anyway, if I can't sing I still have to make noise. :-p
I find myself writing more. I often don't know what I think until say/write it and then examine it to see if what I just spewed out holds true. I process "out loud" even if it's on paper (or computer screen). (Yes, this is a lot like Hot Dog. It's the mother's curse. "I hope you have a child just like you someday!" :-D )
If I can't ask questions and prompt conversation, certain people in this family barely speak to me. I don't think it's personal. I think they just don't process the way I do. I'm beginning to believe them when I ask "What are you thinking?" and they reply "Nothing." Can you imagine? Weird.
A big part of my parenting is done with my voice. I read stories and sing to teach, to distract, to comfort. We talk- a lot - about just about anything. It's hard for Lego Kid and Hot Dog to have a mom who doesn't talk. It feels wrong to all of us.