Reclaiming My Voice: The Fifth Chakra Connection to Illness and Communication

  Photo by Simon Pais-Thomas


The first thing people notice about me–the people who read just about everything I write–is that, in person, I’m actually not very talkative and when I do speak, I have a soft voice and a quiet manner.  Most people are surprised because they know I have a lot going on in my mind and heart, but until I establish a comfort level with new people, I certainly don’t chat their ears off.

I’ve known for a while that I’ve long had a weak fifth, or throat, chakra.  I’ve also had a number of illnesses associated with this area of my body, but this year has been a big, big turning point. For one example, I found a solution to a problem that’s plagued me for 15 years.   For another example, it’s the first year in the past couple of decades that I haven’t had major issues with my allergies.  I’ve skirted it, especially with the dust and pollen, but it’s never developed in the usual way that keeps me out of work and speechless for several weeks.  We are at the end of May and I’ve never made it this far.  Last year, it hit me in early May, which was over a month longer than usual, but then, by last year, I’d already made a lot of changes in how I express myself, particularly my feelings if not my ideas.

I find it interesting, this connection between the body’s energy centers and various illnesses and injuries.  I am able now to acknowedge it in myself, understand where I went wrong, and work harder on correcting it.

I haven’t always had a weak throat chakra.  When I as a child, I expressed my ideas and feelings very openly.  My mother’s mother referred to me as her “little songbird” because I was always singing.  I remember telling original adventure stories when I was a 3-year-old.  I remember singing folksongs and gospel songs on the school bus–all the way to and all the way from school, every single day, when I was in elementary school. My expression was very free and open, but the structures around me did an excellent job of crushing my freedom of expression.

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There were many ways to kill a child’s self-expression and I was a very good girl.  There was the Church, of course, with its suppression of heretical thought (I challenged the pastor in an intellectual discussion when I was 9 years old and he couldn’t answer me, and I’d questioned other pastors as early as 7 years old and was basically told to shut up and trust what they said or burn in hell). There was family, too, with a cruel relative telling me as a 7-year-old as I watched my beloved grandmother taken on a stretcher to the hospital to die that I’d better hide my tears and at the same time be ashamed because her death from cancer was somehow my fault.  There was the school system, where expression of thought was strongly encouraged, as long as it matched the faculty’s opinions.   There was the way my peers, too, began to fall prey to the structures of conformity and there was ridicule if I didn’t think the same way they did, so I accepted myself as “different,” “bizarre,” “weird,” “eccentric,” and “eclectic,” and kept most of my real feelings and ideas to myself.

For a long time, in my Defense Department career, my wild ideas were extremely welcome, and I was able to reform quite a few business practices, save millions of dollars, and get the job done more quickly than ever before…but then rules were passed to make sure no one had that much freedom of thought, though they still give people awards not for working within the system but for finding their way around the system. And while my ideas were highly encouraged, my emotions were not. I never cried at work (except when a co-worker died) and I was careful not to let anyone see me angry.  My feelings were squelched by the system and I became known as a great negotiator because I remained extremely calm  and unmoved when some international company’s president was screaming insults at me until he ran out of steam and then we wrapped things up in an agreeable package. Whenever I saw something wrong, my sense of justice kicked in and I would blend my honed analytical skills with an emotional appeal–and often lose because I couldn’t suppress the emotion in my voice.  It was during this time that my throat problems began.

My expression of emotions, if not ideas, was being stifled.

At home, it wasn’t much better.  Rather than tell my ex to fuck-off when he criticized my singing, I stopped singing in his presence and that way of expressing my feelings vanished.  It was one of many, including my writing and my way of dressing creatively. Maybe marrying an I/ENFJ to an ISTJ is always a deathmatch waiting to happen, but the communication between us was rarely good.  He was a structured debater who wanted Powerpoint charts and scientific evidence for everything I expressed between us, and I was a touchy-feely philosophical artist with an analytical side who just wanted to talk about ideas and feelings, about my personal unconfirmed gnosis–but my feelings and beliefs could never be proven to satisfaction so I shopped sharing them.  There were times when he would self-isolate, and there was no getting through the walls but to create my own to protect from the pain I felt from not being able to share a part of myself that I desperately wanted to share. The longer we were married, the weaker and weaker my voice and fifth chakra became until the only way I could express anything deeply important was to write him a letter.  He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just say those things–or why I’d ever want or need to have such ridiculous emotions and ideas–but every time I tried, I was talked over or shut down in some way so that I completely lost my voice with him.

After my divorce, I began to reclaim my voice in all areas of my life.  I was not successful at first. In fact, I simply played out the same pattern of being stifled by others or by myself.  The first man I cared for after my divorce was very open to anything I wanted to express–but because of my past situations and because of his past situations and because of way too much input I allowed from friends and family, I ended up swallowing my feelings…and they stuck in my throat.  Technically, it was an allergy-induced throat infection that kept me in bed for weeks and took many, many months to recover from, and left me with little to no physical voice at all until after he’d moved away.  There were many times I thought I was going to die that Spring because not only had I lost my voice, but five or six times an hour, awake or asleep, my throat would close and I literally could not breathe for several seconds at a time.  I could not let my true feelings out.  I could not express myself the way I wanted to, needed to.

I’ve made a lot of changes in my life since then.  Very few people stifle me anymore.  Maybe I should say very few of my current friends or family try to, at least.  I still have the issue occasionally in my job and occasionally with strangers who don’t appreciate my opinions or rumor-mongers who think I’ll just shut up and color like I used to if they lie about me.  This past year especially, and the previous year to a lesser degree, I’ve really been expressing my ideas and feelings more openly to people around me.  Whether they like it or not.  For those people I care for who don’t know how to handle it when I say, “These are my feelings for you,” they haven’t yet come to understand that yes, those ARE my feelings and I accept that that’s how I feel and I’ll deal with my feelings myself and no one else is expected to do anything about them, whether it’s live up to my feelings or try to suppress them because they don’t always make life comfortable.

I can’t say that I no longer keep my feelings to myself, not entirely, but I express them more frequently–through my physical voice–than I have in decades, and my throat feels more open and unblocked than I can remember since I was 3-years-old.


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