By: Marilyn L. Davis
“We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper from the universe. All we have to do is listen — feel and sense it with an open heart. Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition. Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane. Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.” ― C.J. Heck, Bits, and Pieces: Short Stories from a Writer’s Soul
Listening To The Distinct Voices
Most of us do not talk about the voices in our heads, yet we all have them. Sometimes they are the common thoughts that we have turned into the sounds, which take on the voice of the person who initially told them, as in the critical or negative voice. In my head, I have a Mouse voice that squeaks with fear each time I undertake a new beginning, usually followed by the Big Girl voice that encourages the Mouse to take action even when Mouse is afraid. There is also, what I call my Librarian Voice, that keeps a record of outcomes.
All these voices in my head clamor for attention and compete with the outside voices of friends, acquaintances, and others when I ask for and receive advice from a source outside myself. However, I do know the difference between thinking and hearing what others are saying.
The Guiding Voice Within
Then, within, is the Guiding Voice. Nonetheless, the Guiding Voice seems to speak between these two places; it doesn’t sound like a thought even with an assigned voice, nor am I hearing it spoken by others. It seems to be in a space between the two.
That Guiding Voice is outside of my mind, yet within – separate from my hearing, but not a thought.
The Guiding Voice Over the Years
I have had many experiences since I got into recovery in 1988 that I could not explain any other way than to label this guidance as, the Inner or Guiding Voice or the “voice between the thoughts and hearing”.
- I have learned to depend on this voice for guidance or an “Aha moment” where I find peace and wonder at the purpose or the answer, and the feeling of certainty of action.
- It is always present even when I do not see it; rather like seeing only part of the moon on a cloudy night.
I would like to say that the Guiding Voice only came because of getting into recovery and being able to meditate and quiet my mind; however, that is not my experience with this guidance. I received direction in my drug use as well; it was a firm male voice that told me to, “Wake Up” when I was about to overdose. I had also heard it when I was in a dangerous neighborhood heading to a house to pick up the drugs. That time, the Guiding Voice said, “Get out of here, now.”
The night I left the area, without going to the pickup point, there was a raid. I avoided an arrest, so I had experience that this voice gave me advice and guidance that was in my best interest. The irony was that in my use, I listened and followed the advice without mentally arguing or wondering why I should heed any warning.
Questioning the Guiding Voice in Recovery
After I entered treatment in 1988, I saw a tremendous need for a women’s recovery home and opened one in 1990. Shortly after I opened the house, I was traveling about 50 miles to Atlanta to do an interview with a woman incarcerated in a jail.
We had talked by phone. However, inmates at that time only had 10 minutes for a phone call. I wanted to meet her face to face to decide if the house would be a good fit for her, as well as determining her appropriateness for the house.
About 15 miles into my trip, the Guiding Voice said, “Turn around and go home.” I had not heard the voice this loudly in my recovery. Without thinking of the times that this voice was my salvation, I start mentally arguing with the guidance. I rationalized that I had to get to Atlanta for this interview.
The Guiding Voice Will Get our Attention
About 2 miles later, the windshield of my van seemed to vanish. Flashing before my eyes was the van I was driving sliding down the highway on its left side; sparks flying and heading towards the concrete underside of an overhead road.
I had not been this frightened in my life. I got off at the next exit and sat trying to collect my thoughts and let my heart stop racing.
I would not drive to the recovery home, as I did not want the residents to see me this upset. I even questioned whether this was some drug flashback from my use, and was too stunned to go anywhere but to my mother’s house.
The Guiding Voice was Right
When I got there, two men from my recovery support meetings were mowing her lawn. When I got out of the van, one said to me, “You can’t drive that; look at your tire”. When I looked at the tire, there was a section of rubber missing, down to the metal. I asked them what would likely have happened if I tried to drive to Atlanta. They both said that since my van was so top-heavy when the tire blew, it would topple the van, left side down and slide down the highway. Their assessment of the situation was an uncanny description of what I had “seen”.
Since I was the driver, with my window down and on the left side of the van, I realized the physical damage I would have sustained even if I did not crash into the concrete. So, what was this warning? Why did I experience both a visual and verbal warning?
I do not have those answers. Other than to say that this Guiding Voice has counseled me on other occasions, and I accept that this voice will always have my best interest at heart. I have since tried to make an effort to listen without arguing.
Meditating and Listening to The Guiding Voice
Two years into my recovery, I was meditating on the people who I owed amends to for my past actions. I was planning to visit my daughters in Washington, DC and knew that I had people to see for this purpose. I asked for guidance on how best to approach each person so they would understand my sincerity in wanting to correct the harm, in whatever way they determined was best for them. For most of the people, a calm peacefulness came over me, and I knew that I was correct in approaching them at this time.
However, I got to one person, and I heard the Guiding Voice say, “Not now.” Still unconvinced that this was the correct message, I opened my eyes and started arguing in my head about why I should make this particular amends.
This person is gay and one of the most promiscuous people I knew. HIV/AIDS were still a semi-death sentence in 1991, and I was afraid that I would find him sick or dying, and I needed to connect with him to make amends. Still, the voice said, “Not now.” At this point, I listened.
I went to DC, made other amends, and returned to Georgia. Ten months later, I was returning to DC; meditated on this person, and heard, “Now.”
Listening Creates the Possibility of Other Outcomes
When I spoke with my former friend, his first comment was, “You are doing something that I am only now becoming familiar with – making amends. I just got clean four months ago. Whatever you think you owe me put it into the recovery of the women in your house.”
That took me back, and I asked him what his reaction would have been if I had tried to make amends ten months earlier. His response was, “Without being clean myself and understanding the process, you would be paying an arm and a leg, Girl.”
Both of these experiences were years ago, but that voice still alerts, cautions, and points me in the right direction.
I find it interesting that my Guiding Voice is so binary or two-sided, yet uncomplicated – on/off, stop/go, yes/no, now/not now. I know other people who have a very advanced Guiding Voice; mine is what it is, and mine is correct for me.
Learn to Be Quiet and Listen for your Guiding Voice
I would urge you to be quiet of mind, to deliberately reflect and pay attention to the inner guidance. Our spiritual guidance wants to be helpful.
However, we have to learn to listen for it and to it, and that only comes when we are paying attention to it and not just the chatter of our thoughts or the musings of others.
Decide that you are going to become aware of your Guiding Voice. I found it helpful to ask questions to receive directions. Some that proved helpful were:
- “I wonder if. . . “
- “What should I do about. . . “
- “How can I correct. . . “
- “Is there a way to. . .”
Those questions made me focus on moving forward; not dwelling on the past, but giving me concrete solutions for the present. Sometimes I received a message from the Guiding Voice; other times, I stumbled upon a solution while trolling the internet, not looking but finding nonetheless, and other times? I got or made a call, overheard a conversation in a store, or someone mentioned the subject at the meeting.
Coincidence? Who knows, and in the end, that doesn’t matter. When we get an answer, we are simply appreciative of the directions.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
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