what is your tongue?

What is it? What is it worth? Do you need it?

I cannot fathom the restraint and heartbreak of those who live in totalitarian governments, or the men and women confined to strict social conventions about gender a generation before mine… or my mother.
I cannot fathom that strength because even in my heart of hearts, I know I am not that destitute. I will have no men with guns at my door if I speak freely about my religious beliefs. I will not be incarcerated and subject to a life without human rights when I openly discuss and critique my government. I will not be assaulted without penalty, because I can go to the authorities.

But I still feel like the majority of my life where I consciously speak has consisted of biting my tongue. I can still loose my job if I have an outburst, I can loose the respect and support of my peers should I be too audacious, and I can still loose the people who would listen if I speak too brazenly. If I speak freely, people cease to listen.

Very few believed me that my father had been seriously hurt in a car accident… or that it effected him both in body and mind. Even fewer believed that I felt the need to step up my contributions to the family… or that I had any reason to. It was as if people assumed these circumstances are too implausible or so unlikely; as if what I said were a lie. For all the majority knew, it was. I was a hypochondriac. I must have been. I wanted attention, that was it.

Well of course I wanted attention! I needed to know that my narrative was not an anomaly, not some weird occurrence meant for an alternative universe.

In some alternative universe, I’m actually very stupid. So stupid that I do not realize the causes of my own discomfort, nor would I hold my tongue despite consequences. If I were lacking in faculties, would I then be able to identify that my happiness is a choice? Likely not. But why is that that in this universe, however that I am conscious of this life, that I recognize the capability of my choice of happiness is hindered by knowing that it is a choice?

Or is it because I am aware that my personal life is not jeopardized like most others that I feel silly, worse guilty, that somehow the stress of not having the permission to articulate my own experiences and my own feelings affects me so. Most times I can leave my feelings aside while I dive into work. I can usually immerse myself in art or art-like functions, some form or creativity or technical and tactile skill, and subconsciously and without inner discord, find my solution. No. I am simply stuck wondering, and not able to make much action because I am wondering and getting no answers.

And asking my questions aloud means I must first be brazen, blunt and honest… but that drives away any listeners.

The solution then is to be “diplomatic”. Find a way to allude someone to your entire circumstance, however that is also so cryptic. I find that when you make your feelings or your ideas even your experiences cryptic, they loose their credibility. Being cryptic while not speaking the entire truth because that truth is too unprofessional at the time and place of its release is then a lie.

When I bite my tongue; I am lying. When I describe in poetry, it’s cryptic and I am still lying. But when I am truly honest…
… this is when I cannot find the words.

By the times I find that I can speak freely, I am exhausted. By then that articulation is lost.

Is this why they say god gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason?

Why is it those who have truly lost their ability to speak freely are the ones who have the most beautiful things to say? When was the last time I had something truly beautiful to say? Am I just talking but not saying anything?

I must be blabbering.



Your tongue.

It moves more than any other muscle.

Muscles of your heart, at separate times, are relaxed.

But even when you rest, your tongue does not.

So why is the most powerful and most used muscle in our bodies feel so hindered? Why does everyone’s tongue feel tied?

Forget about censoring for a moment. Forget about licenses and forget about the repercussions of your free speech, and think about how often you hold your tongue.

Are we happier for it? or is it to our detriment?

Is it better to have spoken freely and pay the consequence or is it better to make peace with everyone and be quiet?

At times, no one can be silent. When we see others tortured and maimed, when we see segregation, when we see that things can be better, we cannot be silent. Being silent means giving permission. But when someone doesn’t want to hear that you honestly disapprove of their actions though you love them, we must bite our tongues.

When is it important to speak and when is it important to keep quiet?

When does biting your tongue mean you have bitten off your tongue?

When have you made it impossible for yourself to speak anymore?

Is what has me flustered and what has affected absolutely every waking hour truly that important? Is what I want to say a necessity?

I know I am not hard-done by. I know that the stress of my parents divorcing is nothing to living in Syria in this moment. I am not truly bound by law, yet, to keep quiet because of my anatomy assignment. I don’t need to watch my tongue.

But why do I feel that I am constantly biting my tongue?

I cannot imagine the strength needed to live a life where you cannot speak freely because the hurt I feel from my own lack of utterance just now in the minutia of my stresses is overwhelming.

If we were meant to listen more than we were to speak, why is our feeling that we need to speak and speak often so predominant in our lives? It must be a choice like happiness; we must choose to listen more than speak.

If people listened, then cryptic descriptions would not be necessary. If we listened, maybe when one does speak, they are not at a loss to try and find again that singular moment of clarity and articulation. Maybe if we listened before we spoke, which is opposite of our actions currently, then maybe we would not all feel that our tongues are overvalued or undervalued. We wouldn’t have to lie to tell a truth. We would simply speak and be at peace if others could just listen.

Is what I wanted to say so important? What was it that I wanted to say? It was something about their divorce, my lack of art supplies to keep myself occupied, that the only art I can do without the intention of selling it is writing and even that has it’s very sparse time… is it that trying to get away has taken over even necessary functions like keeping composure and being professional? It was something to the effect that I am frustrated. I am deeply, immensely, overwhelmingly frustrated. And maybe a bit helpless. I’m waiting to hear back from someone to see if moving out is going to happen sooner or later… maybe my reasons for wanting to move out are silly. No. No they can’t be because I know that staying where I am now affects me. It affected me four years ago, it affects me now. I wanted to say something that would more or less come across like I was throwing my own family under the bus for my frustrations though it is more about my reactions than their decisions… or their reactions to decisions.

I’m angry, I’m frustrated, I’m exhausted, I’m almost melancholy, and trying so hard to count my blessings without loosing them to being affected. What is happening in the grand scheme of things is not that big, it is not life threatening, it is not going to end the world or leave me helpless… I do live in Canada and that’s a blessing on its own.

But it affects my health, my sleep, my breath, even the way I look into someone’s eyes.

But it’s really not that bad.

I don’t know if I made myself feel better than it’s not all that bad or if I made myself feel even more of a fool because I feel so hurt.

What is your tongue? We hardly know when to speak, or how to speak or care if it is important. How much is your tongue worth? I think at least in a few moments in life, we all have instances when we cannot speak freely and we feel such an agonizing debate in ourselves. Do you need your tongue? People have a voice without a tongue, and those people when given the moment to use their voice, use that temporary moment to say such permanent things.

I still don’t know if I feel silly and guilty, or if I feel enlightened.

I have to figure out what I have to do with my tongue.


– I am Elizabeth Hoskin, and I am LovingBedlam