By: Marilyn L. Davis
Listening To The Inner Voices
“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
Most of us do not talk about the voices in our heads, yet we all have them. Sometimes they are the everyday thoughts that we have turned into the sounds, which sound like 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, which 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. However, I do know the difference between thinking and hearing what others are saying.
The Guiding Voice is Within
There is also the Guiding Voice, which seems to speak in the space between thinking voices and hearing outside voices.
The Guiding Voices Saves Me from Me
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.” 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’m aware that there is more. I want to say that the Guiding Voice only came because of getting into recovery and meditating and quieting my mind; however, that is not my experience with this guidance.
I received direction in my drug use, too; a firm male voice 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 experiences 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 my 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 traveled about 50 miles to Atlanta to interview a woman incarcerated in 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 and determine her appropriateness for the home.
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 about how this voice was my salvation in the past, 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, I saw 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. When I got off at the next exit, I parked my car and sat trying to collect my thoughts and let my heart stop racing. There was no way I could 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. I was too upset to go anywhere but to my mother’s house.
The Guiding Voice was Right
Pulling into the driveway at her house, I saw two men from my recovery support meetings 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 rubber section missing down to the metal. I asked the guys what would likely have happened if I tried to drive to Atlanta. They both said that since my van was so top-heavy, it would topple the van when the tire blew, 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 van’s left side, 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 a verbal warning? I do not have those answers.
Meditating and Listening to The Guiding Voice
I have since tried to make an effort to listen without arguing.
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 understood my sincerity in correcting the harm in whatever way they determined was best for them.
For most 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.
Listening Creates the Possibility of Other Outcomes
This person is gay and one of the most promiscuous people I knew. HIV/AIDS was 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 returned to DC, meditated on this person, and heard, “Now.”
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
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. Here are some that I still use:
“I wonder if. . .”
“What should I do about. . .”
“How can I correct. . .”
“Is there a way to. . .”
Know There is an Answer
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 appreciative of the directions.
This Guiding Voice has counseled me on other occasions, and I accept that this voice will always have my best interest at heart, just as your Guiding Voice has your best interests, too. Learn to listen.
Writing and recovery heals the heart
How can your experiences help someone struggling with their addictions? It may just be your personal story that opens up the possibility of recovery for someone else. Consider a guest post today.