I got a question on Formspring last week that asked me if I was sad that I can't sing anymore. I said yes, for certain, and that I would talk about it on the blog. Well, I guess now is the time for me to dig up that particular piece of pain and share it, so bear with me if this is a little difficult to get through. Let's start with some background.
I've always been a singer. Always. Started voice classes quite young, probably 12 years old, and started being classically trained in opera while still in my teens. I was a theatre major in college, performed in several musicals, and competed in vocal competitions throughout. I was a singer. It was what I did. In the car, in the shower, you couldn't shut me up if you tried. And, according to other people, I was pretty damn good at it.
When my depression and the ensuing booze a go-go began, I stopped singing. I didn't have the heart for it anymore. But I still COULD, and every once and a while I'd belt out something when I knew no one was around. My voice was strong, clear, and highly trained. I had just lost the spark behind it.
Which brings us to the hospital. Still damn hard to talk about, the hospital. When I fell into the coma, I had to be intubated – that is, I had tubes shoved into my lungs through my mouth to make me breathe. When I woke up from the coma, one of my first conscious thoughts was "I'm choking. I'm choking, something is in my mouth, get it out, get it out." And I tore the tubes out. This was not a good thing to do. They were replaced, I was gravely scolded, and I went on to do it again a day later. This was when they decided that putting me in restraints was a grand idea, but that is not what I want to talk about right now, and this is my blog, so we'll skip that super fun part and go back to my voice.
When I was finally extubated, I couldn't eat, or drink, or speak without gasping and choking for air. I was constantly on supplemental oxygen, and scribbled tomes of what I WANTED to say on pieces of paper, shoving them in people's faces, and often throwing the pen in frustration and downright rage.
When my parents told me I was going straight to rehab, and not home, I didn't say a word.
Rehab was spent in choked words and mostly silence. As I described before, I learned to listen in rehab, partially because I didn't really have any other options. I also learned that being silent meant I became secret-keeper, confidant, and the best shrink you never paid for. I liked that. I liked that part a lot. It gave me self-worth, and I still feel the best when I'm at least attempting to help other people, even if it means listening in silence.
My voice eventually returned. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, it returned, first as a rasp of someone who had been smoking Duraflame logs since BIRTH, and eventually into a lower-registered version of my old voice. To this day, I run out of breath a lot when I talk, and my voice is lower than it used to be, but it's there. What isn't there is the music.
I lost my singing voice entirely during the course of all this drama. I can't sing a note. I've tried, tried so desperately, in the shower, in the car, to get something, anything back. I've tried Broadway standards, rock songs off the radio, scales…there's nothing. It's all gone. Such is the enduring price I pay for almost killing myself.
I see it as a fair trade. I got to live, but a very precious part of me, a huge part of my identity, died.
So that's the story. I'm still singing all the time, in my head, still love music intensely, but the arias and the musical theatre pieces I used to belt out? I don't listen to them anymore. It makes me too sad. I mourn my voice. Hell, I'm crying as I type this. I mourn the incredible gift I was given, that died so I could live.
Like I said, I see it as a fair trade. But I'll mourn it for the rest of my days.