I was seven years old, and I’d been drawing a beautiful mural on the wall of my bedroom. With crayon. I was ecstatic with my work of art.
As a child who was always supported to be artistic, it didn’t occur to me that my mom would not want my crayon masterpiece all over the wall. But when she walked into my room, her whole body went rigid and she yelled at me, as she started to do that panic-y breath thing we all do when we are afraid or overwhelmed. “What have you DONE!? Your father will be home any minute?” Her voice went up high in pitch like a squeal at the end of her sentence.
And little 6 year old me – I was standing there shocked into silence, because I hadn’t seen this one coming! And then the cries of anguish escaped my lips… I was wailing – my shock, my horror, my shame, my confusion – it was all wailing through me.
And then we both heard it – the automatic garage door going up. Dad was home. Home from a long day at work as a district attorney. And the one thing he really needed when he got home was some quiet time to arrive and relax. Mom looked at me with wild open eyes, and a tight set jaw.
“You stop crying right NOW,” she said. “You have nothing to cry about. I’m going to have to clean this up. This is the last thing I need right now. Your dad is coming in here, and he is not going to like this. So you suck up those tears right now. Stop it. Stop.”
“Choke back those tears. Choke them back.”
And I remember the feeling of “choking” back tears. I shut my throat hard. I set my own jaw in tension, like hers. And I pouted. Lower lip out. Eyes downcast. I collapsed on my bed in a small heap, feeling very sad.
My throat burned.
I heard dad come through the front door and drop his keys on the side table. I heard his briefcase drop on the floor. I heard him greet my mom. I heard her weeping to him that she’s just had a hard time with me. He comforted her, and then they were in the kitchen, bustling around.
No one came for me right away. But I stayed quiet. And eventually, I was summoned to my dad, and he gave me “the talk.” He explained why I couldn’t draw on the walls. He explained why mom was upset. He told me all the consequences of my actions. He honestly did a great job of explaining. And I stayed quiet, sullen, and downcast. I kept pouting. And my throat kept burning.
I can still feel the burn in my throat from times like these.
And I know that they are pretty “normal” among all of us.
And these lessons are important useful lessons – how to behave and all.
But this week’s Genius Experiment, and the experiments coming up over the next few weeks, offer the best tools I know to open the throat for full expression again.
Because these old ouches are still stuck in the throat of all of us.
Yet there are simple ways to clear them out, to release the tension, and to reclaim the power of your voice.
In just one minute, you can gently massage your throat in a way that releases a lot of old tension that you don’t even realize is there!