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MANIPULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS AND LOSING YOUR VOICE: COMING FROM AN ARTIST

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This is an issue I have been dealing with for a couple years now. I have talked to a few people about ‘it’ more recently and it appears either people have experienced it firsthand or do not understand it much at all. I thought it could be very beneficial to myself and others to share in a women’s safe place, since I have felt very alone and confused about it for so long.

I have always been somewhat shy with people I don’t know, but I could usually manage to comfortably hold a conversation. A couple years ago, I was in the last year of my high school career. I had just switched schools the previous year and was finally losing the 20 pounds and acne I gained from the anxiety of starting a new school. High school was hard for everyone, but at this point I was the most insecure, vulnerable and impressionable I had ever been. After getting sick of third, fifth and seventh wheeling all my friends, I found myself in a relationship with the most unexpected person.

He was very kind at first, but slowly became more condescending. He was a few years older and I did feel as though he took advantage of my young vulnerability. I won’t get into all the details of the relationship; they’re not important. However, I feel it’s important to say that it ended in his unfaithfulness. There was very little about the relationship that was good, but what affected me the most in the end was how little I could express myself.

It came to a point where he would get angry with me for anything I would say, even the most harmless jokes. Although he would say some of the most disturbing and hurtful things, if I had any upset reaction at all (as small as just a disappointed expression), he would notice and get upset at me. I slowly learned to keep any opinion to myself and tried to have a blank expression whenever I was feeling a little uneasy, which didn’t always work out being the sensitive person that I am.

After the relationship ended, I began dating a very good guy. Sadly, I was still stuck in a mindset that I didn’t know how to get out of. I was too nervous and afraid to talk to people that I wasn’t already comfortable with. Although I was out of the situation that made me feel this way, I still felt pushed down, ignored and stupid. I always had something I wanted to say and contribute to the conversation but could never bring myself to do it. It felt like there was a blockage in my throat not letting me speak up. Most of the time if I got up the courage to speak, I would get interrupted accidentally since my voice was so quiet. Even though I knew the person never wanted to interrupt me, it felt like one of the worst things that could happen to me and my heart would drop in my chest. It made it harder and harder to speak up.

In the next year, I couldn’t fix the way I was feeling. Ironically, I met many very exciting and interesting people that year, which would’ve been a lot easier if I wasn’t stuck in this mindset. It was one of the most frustrating things I have ever experienced, meeting so many cool people that I could barely bring myself to talk to. As an artist and musician, I knew that I had to voice out how I was feeling in some way. Being too afraid to make and show my art previously, I knew that it was time.

Very soon after the breakup, I began writing music again. I showed my songs to my friend, who is a drummer, and we began playing together often. Eventually, I brought in a bassist and lead guitarist. My band, Jungle Gym, began playing shows. I still felt very uncomfortable in front of that many people. I didn’t know where to look while I was singing. However, it has gotten easier as we’ve played more shows. I don’t feel as anxious anymore because I’ve trained myself to think that I’m alone and playing music to a wall. But because of the actual thrill of playing and people coming up to talk to me after the shows, it has helped me socially. Also singing about topics I’m sensitive about to so many people and sharing that vulnerability has helped me to be more open about my feelings.

I also learned a lot more about photography at the time. I was eventually able to show emotion and get my point across in my images. It was a very important skill for me to learn because it’s something I can do by myself, without a band. I don’t have to depend on anyone else to put my art out there. If I’m feeling inspired, I can release something in as little as an hour. I learned to be able to express myself again through both imagery and music.

I still have a hard time socially, even though it has gotten easier. But what matters more to me is that I have found my voice again. I can express myself without fear of being rejected and pushed down. People listen and support me. I encourage anyone who may be having similar problems to find a creative outlet to express themselves, even if it’s not with words but with imagery. It can help more than you think.

Author: Sophia Lynn
Email: sophiaswartzbaugh@gmail.com
Author Bio: Sophia Lynn is a 19 year old musician, writer, and photographer from San Luis Obispo, CA. She thrives to make her art into a career and share her experiences along the way.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @_jungle_gym

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