I had laryngitis for 3 whole days. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you can’t say anything above a whisper (and even that is a little painful), it really does feel like a long time. When I’m sick, I have a general policy of canceling all commitments, staying in my jammies and in bed, while accepting any gracious offers of care-giving for myself and my children. Not only does this policy help expedite recovery but it has helped me come to see illness as opportunities to practice returning-to-wellness. This is in contrast to my old sick-policy of “push-on-through and do everything anyway”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t initiate the preferred policy this time. My girls and I were on our own during my laryngitis-weekend. The three of us laid-low, but we still had to communicate.
Without regular functioning of my voice, I couldn’t have conversations with the girls by yelling across the house or even across the room. I guess I do this a lot, because approximately every 5 seconds, I wished I could holler so Hazel could grab something for me or to tell Nora to come to the table or whatever it was in that moment. Instead, thanks to laryngitis, there was no yelling. The girls had to be right in front of me, within arms reach, for them to hear me. And, I couldn’t be washing dishes or looking at the computer or doing anything else while we talked. Any extra noise or turning my face away made my teeny-tiny whisper inaudible. When we spoke, we had to be fully focused on each other, looking at each other in the face, without distractions.
This was annoying at first. Apparently, I don’t like to stop everything, go over to where my children happen to be, look at them directly and wait till they are ready to listen. This felt so slow and tedious. Once I had their attention, I’d choose my words very carefully so I didn’t have to say anything extra or more than once because it hurt to even say the necessary stuff. This continued for days until I had to wonder, was this annoying or actually kind of awesome?
The significance of changing communication samskaras, or habits, wasn’t lost on me. Nor how easy it is to take the real gift of communication with someone you love for granted. It was only a couple of days of this, but our communication habits adjusted. Because of my laryngitis, if Nora needed to know where something was, she came into the same room I was in before she yelled. There would be times I could hear Hazel talking to me from the other side of the house, but I’d choose to ignore it until she was in front of me. It was then she’d ask me for what she needed in a regular tone of voice and she would really listen for my answer. There got to be almost zero “yell-between-rooms communication” going on, even between the two girls with functioning vocal chords. The house was quieter, calmer, and I could appreciate the communication that we did have. I chose my words carefully and they did too. It felt special. Our communication had the sweetness and the intimacy of secrets shared.
I was the one with laryngitis, but it meant that all three of us adjusted. This is such a good reminder that what I do can change the tone of our household. I also know the samskaras of how the girls and I communicate are like well-worn tracks in the dirt, but I’d really like to carry some of these new ways with us now that I have my voice back: Less yelling. Carefully chosen words. Face to face conversations. Thanks, laryngitis. You have helped me along my path in unexpected ways.
Amanda teaches breath-centered yoga in Austin, TX and online. She’d love to help you discover yogic practices of movement, breath and meditation that can help move you toward quiet attention, centeredness and calm. Click HERE for more information or to contact Amanda for a complementary 15 minute appointment.