No Voice, No Power

My day yesterday—and seemingly in the last few weeks—has been female-filled. Starting with Thanksgiving spent with my mom and then extending back here. There are many women of different levels of relationships: strictly friends like Jen and Elizabeth who I’ve never messed around with (nor envision it), friends I’ve messed around with but are now primarily friends like Julia and Morgan, women I’m courting, women who are courting me (whose names are many and various).
I’ve been using this time as a single man to work out some of the bigger challenges of my relatedness with women—what are my ticks and sticking points with women? Where do I get bound up, selfish, arrogant, hostile, whatever?
One of the ever-present points of constriction in my relationships with women is my voice (not totally restricted to women, but more prominent there). I don’t feel I have the power to assert my voice. By the time my last relationship had petered out, my normally very-resonant voice was completely stifled. I could barely mutter a word. I felt like there was an anvil on my chest restricting my breathing and cotton in my throat making my words murky. The occasional times the anvil was removed, my words were so charged with pent up energy (mostly in the form of righteousness and anger), they were incendiary in the context of my relationship with my ex. Needless to say, I do not want to replicate this phenomenon. No more anvils. No more cotton.
And yet this phenomenon still occurs. Often.
Case in point, there’s a girl named Susan (these are all pseudonyms btw). Susan and I met through a mutual friend. Susan is a really cool girl. We connect better than many of the women I’ve met as of lat, but I am just not attracted to her physically. I could dissect all of the reasons why not—how she is deviant from a dominant societal paradigm formed in media messaging, how my biological imperative to find the best mate overrides my conscious need for connection, etc.—but the reasons just obfuscates the cold, hard truth: the girl just doesn’t turn me on physically.
And yet she does turn me on mentally. I like spending time with her. She’s sharp and thoughtful and inquisitive. And she is (or at least was) really into me.
When we’d talk in a platonic manner, we’d get along great. But inevitably, she’d escalate sexual tension. The first time we met, we ended up making out with her. She provided an oral loading dock when I just intended to peck her goodnight. A couple subsequent meetings played out similarly.
In every occasion, what I noticed was that my voice went out. I wasn’t able to just say, “you’re really cool, but I don’t think I want to take this in a romantic direction.”
This voicelessness is a recurrent theme with women and me. It becomes more prominent with greater intimacy—exes, my mom, lovers, etc. I could theorize why I do it—feeling powerless around my mom, in formative romantic relationships, etc.—but I’m not entirely sure that the “why” is so important.
I’ve noticed this voicelessness in non-romantic situations too. I clam up when the dominant conversation turns to stuff that I don’t find interesting.
Last night, I was at a holiday party for a software company. The questions were standard fare for the environment: “what do you do?” “Where are you from?” “Where do you live in the city?” I find these questions dreadfully boring for the most part. I think they convey a mechanical approach to human interaction that’s prohibitive to real connections. I often throw in some shit about being an etymological proctologist or something. But often I just relent. But when I do, I pay in voicelessness.
Both in romantic and non-romantic situations, I think I’ve distilled what happens when I lose my voice: I lose my power. In all these situations, whether I submit to a girl’s wishes that are not consistent with my own or submit to social decorum that I find unproductive; I am entering into someone else’s reality. I am no longer the creator of my reality.
No voice, no power.
You might read this and think that I am power hungry. To a certain extent, yes, I am. But this supposes that voices can’t merge. I have many relationships that are founded on co-creation, where every party is powerful because every voice is heard. Power need not be a limited commodity.
It is not the fault of Susan or the geek at the party that my voice was not heard. When I clam up, I don’t even give anyone a chance to co-create. I presuppose a lack of agreement and lo-and-behold, no agreement is made. I end up quiet and smug, they end up walking way, uninspired or pissed off in the case of several women.
So this is my task in the coming days: to observe situations where my voice is lost. When it happens, ask myself, “How might I co-create this conversation?” “How might I invite people into my reality?” Despite all of our misdirection, I love people. I have a version of reality that some people might like. At bear minimum, someone might choose to build a road between my reality and his or hers. But I need to give them the keys to the city. It doesn’t happen passively. It only happens through voicing an invitation to come over.

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