I read a quote on Facebook recently. “Follow your dreams for they are whispers from your soul.” It jolted me.
My soul no longer whispers. I have no dreams to follow. My pockets were once full of them. I held them close, planning, examining them. I worked and waited for the day they would come true, one at a time. I believed. I heard them whisper to my heart, giving me hope and something to look forward to. Something to live for. A reason to keep trying. Purpose. Desire.
The first dream I can remember having was that of being a ballerina. Though not even yet in kindergarten, I begged for lessons. Saved and spent my meager allowance on a poster of ballerinas in watercolor tutus. Watched ballet on TV. I was mesmerized. Such grace! Such beauty! I felt the stirrings in my limbs. My legs longed to leap. My feet to frolic and skip and twirl. My arms desired to move in fluid dance, precise and lovely. Perfection from my fingers to toes. Beauty in motion.
But there were no lessons. My parents told me I was silly and laughed when I attempted to twirl and soar. They dismissed my dream. A bad investment.
My second dream was to learn to play the piano. As a small child, I came to love music. It set me free from the chaos and pain of my unpredictable world. It spoke the language of my soul. Again, I begged for lessons. My best friend was learning to play and she hated it. Hated practicing. But I would sit with her and watch her fingers on the keys, moving and speaking, however imperfectly, creating a language my heart understood. I watched, but watching was all I was ever allowed to do. My fingers never learned to dance on the ivory. My parents didn’t even acknowledge my pleas.
Heartfelt artistic expression was denied me in most forms. But they couldn’t take the pencil from my hand and notebook paper was relatively cheap. I wrote. My first poem was created when I was in first grade and I have never stopped writing. That, they couldn’t deny me. Page after page after page, the pain of my heart was recorded, expelled, neatly summed up and stored away. And still I write. Even though I never realized my dream of becoming a writer.
At one point I wanted to be an actress, but I was a quiet and shy child. I had to act every day of my life. Act as if everything was normal. As if my parents were loving and nurturing. As if they protected me. As if they weren’t abusing me. I had to paint a smile on my face, mask the pain in my eyes, laugh at the right times, mirror the behavior of my peers. All to avoid discovery. Because I had been warned. If anything happened to the family, it would be my fault. I was the protector. The protector who wore a mask and went through the motions. Who gave an academy award performance every day of my childhood.
When I was 13, my music teacher aunt persuaded my parents to buy me a cheap acoustic guitar so she could teach me some chords and a few songs. And so, I began to dream of being a singer. I was motivated to learn, though I never became a good guitarist. I started writing my own songs, poems set to music. I wanted to share my pain with the world in hopes of touching the heart of another lonely, broken little girl. I longed to connect in a deep way, hoping to find I wasn’t alone. But the songs were never heard. I sang them in the dark, alone in my room, doors closed, softly, so as to not be overheard. I released a little of the turmoil and wounding through the words and simple chords. It felt cathartic. I decided I had finally found my calling.
My voice was good, but untrained. When I asked for lessons, my mother made me sing her a song. She laughed when I was done and told me I sounded awful; nothing like Barbra Streisand. Thus dismissed, I never asked for anything from them again. I sang, but always in solitude, fearful of being overheard and rejected.
As I matured, I longed to have a relationship with someone; a heart connection where words were not needed. I wanted something deeper and more real than words. Another dream. A frivolous dream. I fantasized about loving someone who loved me back with all of their heart and soul. Someone who would keep me safe. Who would cherish me. Who would understand my pain. And care.
I dreamed of making a difference in the world. Changing it for the better. Doing something special that would endure.
Whispers. Whispers in my heart. Whispers that kept me from giving up.
I dreamed of healing. Of finally reaching a place of wholeness. I worked hard for it. Could almost see it through the haze. I even dreamed of writing a book, once I had achieved that state of togetherness and freedom, chronicling my journey in hopes of helping others who had suffered as I had suffered. I wanted to help them find the path, encourage them along their own journey. But I never achieved the necessary Hollywood ending. I never found my way out of the darkness. So I felt I had nothing to offer. The book remains half written.
I dreamed of being in a position of security. One where I didn’t have to worry about every dime and penny. Where bills could be paid and tires could be purchased when needed. Where cars and houses, though not fancy and ridiculously expensive, were achievable when required. Where heat and air were affordable. And where retirement could be enjoyed before reaching the age of 65. But I didn’t long only for financial security. I longed for security in a relationship. In the arms of another. Contentment. Lack of worry. The ability to enjoy and be carefree.
Whispers. Quietly urging me onward. Encouraging me to continue the journey.
Reality assailed and betrayed me again and again. One by one, my dreams faded into yesterday.
I had less lofty dreams as well. To visit Hawaii. To live by the ocean. To lose weight. To fly in a hot air balloon. To get a sports car. To run a marathon. Whispers. “Keep going…there will be things that will make life worth living,” they said.
I don’t know when the whispers completely faded. Nor when they stopped altogether. But now, they are a stench in my nostrils. A reminder of all of my failures.
It is silent, here in my world. In my heart. No urgings. No desires. No hopes. No dreams. I can’t even imagine something positive happening. Something good coming my way. Something actually working out. I stagger forward because I must. Time requires it. But there are no whispers within me. There is no reason to continue. All I have left are these written words, flung out into the universe, without hope of ever being heard, understood, or wanted. No hope of connection. Nor salvation.
My life ended almost when it began. Hammered by fists. Molested. Slapped with hands and words. Rejected. Unwanted. Never able to measure up. Broken. Raped by my own father. Warped and wounded, I tried. I tried to do everything right, but I failed. I tried so hard to overcome! And I listened to the whispers. But they lied. Life has always been just beyond my reach. Dreams were for other people, not for me. I followed the whispers until they deserted me here in the wilderness. In this place of endless silence. Where I now reside. Just waiting for the final chapter. For the end.
I have no dreams to follow. There are no whispers emanating from my soul. Not even their echoes remain.