how the hell does a caged bird sing?

I’m a communicator by fault. I think sometimes it has to do with the fact that at a very young age I was an actress. I was on a Broadway stage when I was told to become one with my feelings and emotions. I was told to embrace my feelings at any given moment to better understand how different emotions made me feel.  I had to learn to cry on demand.  I had to cry on stage during each performance. So, as I‘ve grown and matured into adulthood, I’ve realized that I’ve got a constant need for emotional awareness.  I always want everyone in my life, with importance, to know how I feel about them or a situation.  Granted, a lot of times my thoughts may be unsolicited or opinions but if something were to happen to me today, tomorrow, or the next day, everyone who is close to me will know exactly how I feel about them. Right now. Today. At this moment.  And, quite frankly, I find it calming to know that those who are closest to me will always know how I feel.  Good. Bad. Otherwise.   I’m saying this simply because I was talking to a great friend of mine yesterday, mommy to Faheed, who reminded me of the importance of me expressing myself.

I’ll be honest.  I’ve got a lot going on at the moment.  I feel trapped in my thoughts because of fear of overly expressing myself.  Fear of losing someone because I responded honestly when asked how I felt… It’s tough.  It’s extremely difficult for me because I lost my voice several years ago like a caged bird…

I allowed myself to become silent and numb.  I spent many days, nights, and hours locked in my thoughts with no way out.  I became miserable dreading each day as I fell deeper and deeper into my silence.  I lost myself because I didn’t want to hurt the person I was with.  I didn’t want to leave him despite my unhappiness.  I didn’t want to leave someone I cared about.  It was tormenting to my soul.  My spirit began to wilt each day. I was stuck in the motion of just going through the motions.  My life had become a sad journey.  Everyone around me had an opinion.  Everyone around me kept asking, “Why are you still with him?” or “What is wrong with you?”  No one understood that I was paralyzed in that moment.  That relationship made me so numb that I couldn’t move.  I really couldn’t.  I didn’t know how to anymore.  My voice was gone.  My heart was hollow.  He wasn’t a bad person but he was a sad person.  He drained all of my happiness… every second, every minute, every hour… until I was empty.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror one morning…  I woke up with tears in my eyes.  My sadness had taken over my dreams.  I was so sad that I began to cry in my sleep.  The thing is I wanted so desperately for him to break-up with me.  I couldn’t bare the responsibility of walking away from someone I cared about.  I could handle being the one left behind.  Well, that never happened… Fortunately, there came a point when all I could do was scream.  I was suddenly angry.  Angry at it all.  Angry at myself. Angry at him.  Angry at us.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t stay and hold my voice hostage in the motion of going through the motions.  I was trained as a young girl to use my voice so why did I allow myself to silence it?  Why did I allow myself to become so numb that my voice was lost?  Why did I stay when my heart no longer wanted to be there?  I asked myself all of these things and I couldn’t figure it out.  It didn’t matter anymore.  I was done.  I had a sudden urge to be me again.  To truly laugh again. To no longer be sad.  To no longer hold the burden of feeling responsible for someone else’s happiness.  I was more important!

So, I left… not immediately, but I knew it was coming.  It did. I left and I said goodbye a few weeks later.  I cried…but I didn’t cry as long as thought I would.  I mean it was a 4-year relationship. I cried more when my high school boyfriend and I broke-up than I did after 4 years.  To be specific, I cried for 24 minutes.  Yes, I remember exactly how long I cried because I was amazed that after all those years I only had 24 minutes of tears.  Interesting, right?  You see, I had given so much of myself and became so hollow that I couldn’t do the thing I did every night on stage as a kid.  For the first time in my life, I couldn’t keep the tears coming.  Trust me, I tried.  I looked at myself thinking that would make me cry longer.  How could it be possible?  How could I only have 24 minutes of tears for someone who I gave 2,102,400 plus minutes to?  I didn’t understand it. I think I had more sadness for my lack of tears than I did for the end of the relationship.  It bothered me.  It bothered me until I thought about it a few days later.  That’s when I realized I only had 24 minutes of tears at the end of the relationship because I used all the other tears while I was still in it. I spent a total of 2,102,400 plus minutes of my life in that relationship and 1,051,200 minutes (give or take a few) sad.  That sadness, on many occasions, ended with tears.  Those tears added up and by the time I said goodbye I only had 24 minutes left.

Thinking back at the moment.  I am relieved.  I now know that IF I hadn’t used so many tears during that relationship, while my voice was paralyzed, as I continuously went through the motions of going through the motions, I would still have tears.  I would be sad…right now…at this moment.  The moment I said goodbye, I got my voice back and, in many ways, regained the “pep in my step” and I instantly felt lighter. I was no longer a caged bird.  I was free to carry on and live my life for me without the burden of worrying about hurting someone else.  It was a great feeling to sleep well.  To not wake up in the morning feeling drained, like those 8 hours of sleep never took place. To no longer dread the sound of my phone ringing or the ding of a text message.  It was liberating.  It felt AH-MAZING!

You see, a caged bird will sing as long as it isn’t kept in darkness.  The minute you place that cage in direct light, it begins to sing.  As soon as it begins to sing, it will find a way out of the cage.  It will eventually realize the door to the cage was never locked.  It will see the only thing keeping it in the cage was itself.  When it finds the courage to open the door, it will fly away, with weakened wings, taking flight towards the sunlight, leaving the darkness behind. The further it flies, the stronger it will get… The stronger it gets, the louder its voice will become.  The louder its voice becomes, the easier it is to sing.  The more it sings, the happier it will be.

A caged bird can find its way to happiness.

I was that caged bird…

Now I sing