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  • Writer's picturedennisharris04

A Demon Gave Me My Voice

You know those moments you’ve had a truly uneasy or sinking feeling when faced with adversity? The feeling like you should stand up for yourself or someone else, but in the moment it feels overwhelming and very hard to do. Did you say what you had to say? If the answer is no, do you ever wish you had that moment back?

Finding your voice can be the most freeing moment you’ll ever experience in your life! It can give you purpose and self confidence to help elevate you to try other things that will help you survive the hard times, and contribute along life’s journey. For some people finding that voice comes easy and for others it takes something drastic, almost like being hit by a spiritual hammer.

It took something like that for me, something I didn’t see coming and it was life altering. My best friend in Elementary School was the kindest person I knew. He was a gentle giant, and shy like me. Neither of us ever really put ourselves out there because it seemed too hard, can you relate?

There was a bully at our elementary school that really didn’t pay much attention to you unless you were his current target. This kid strutted around like some twisted version of Vinny Barbarino and Rocky, and liked to impose his will on weaker kids that couldn’t or wouldn’t fight back. One day my friend and I were playing California Kickball with a bunch of other kids. We were both decent athletes for our age and my friend managed to kick a home run on the school bully, who had pushed his way into being the pitcher. Everyone of course cheered and the bully started slapping my friend, grabbing his hair and taunting him to fight, but he wouldn’t. I saw red and told him to stop. He turned on me and aggressively pushed my face into the steel mesh style backstop. I had tears start to well up, but not tears of pain, these were angry tears of real rage, which I had never felt before. I managed to push my face off the backstop, turn slightly and swing wildly with my fist, then the other fist, connecting with his face both times. He fought back and I took a couple off my face as well, then it was broken up by a couple of teachers. The bully and I got into huge trouble, but he never bothered us again and people didn’t fear him as much after that. It was a hard fought win for me and I do not necessarily mean just the fight, it was the courage it took to stand up, no matter what the outcome.

That moment was the culmination of a period in my life that seemed very dark, where I had started to feel an inner uneasiness and anger in my surroundings. My parents seemed to think it was a good idea to put my room in the basement, because I was in their opinion a “big boy “who should learn to be on his own. The basement was a dark, creepy place with a big pit in it. It was a very old house that had a lot of neighbourhood rumours surrounding it. To add to an already terrifying experience, I had to go outside through two wooden, dungeon style doors and go up the outer staircase to get into the house where the rest of my family spent their time.

On top of that my stepfather, who was one of a few that my mother would be with over the years, started to get creative with his brand of punishment. There was a certain level of brutality that would be considered torture by most. I was starting to feel alone, resentful and there was an anger inside that was helping to grow a darker side of who I was.

Every time I was punished or left alone I could feel dark thoughts emerging from the moment I was suffering. That day in the school yard I felt all of that come to the surface.

At a young age I started to realize the dark emotions could be used for good and finding my inner voice. It started to give me a strange confidence. I went from being almost crippled with shyness in social settings, to believing that I could face new adversity because it would probably never be as bad as my home situation. I started finding my voice.

Over the years of my life I started to nurture that dark side by realizing the strength it could give when I needed to rise above adversity. The anger I felt every time someone was trying to abuse me or hurt me could be channeled into the very energy that I needed to have a voice in hard, adverse situations. I refer to that dark side that we all have as my inner Demon. Make no mistake, we all have at least a little of that side in us. Some of us have to dig deeper and most will do everything to stay away from their darker side. The idea of it scares them, so they don’t chase it or try to harness its potential.

My Demon gave me my voice, but what if I had never found it...which brings me to my next point. What about people who are in situations where they NEED that voice, but can’t find it? What if the spiritual hammer never hits? What if they never find that crucial way to express themselves?! It proves as difficult for some people and can be an almost crippling task. Some people sadly go through life without finding that voice that helps them gain confidence and have no idea where to even begin. Maybe you are reading this and you feel like you’re one of those people. So how do we help ourselves? How do we help others?

As an adult, I am a dad, a husband, a coach and have been an employer, which has exposed me to some great examples of ways we can dig in and help others find their voices. A couple great things to start with are encouragement and support. Too many times I have seen those quiet kids who work hard, show tons of potential and get passed over. Typically because of other kids whose dad is a coach or knows the coach. One of the reasons I became a coach, not just for my boys, but to help be that voice for all kids who need some guidance. We need to encourage those kids to keep going, to start speaking up, and in some cases we need to be their voice while they are learning how to find their own.

How about the coworker that puts their nose down, does a great job and quietly watches while the boss promotes friends and relatives? Help those people set goals to find a different path or to speak up.

If you are any of the above examples, start making a list of ways that you want to start finding your voice. Set realistic goals that you can achieve that you will stick with or at least give yourself the best effort to achieve them. At least one time in life all of us should experience what it feels like to tell someone to “FUCK OFF”, when we feel we are not being treated well.

I’m bothered when I think about people who are unable to draw on their inner strength. I think about the fact that Einstein was once that boy who teachers thought to have a mental disability. What if he didn’t pursue his theories in physics? About Orville and Wilbur Wright and their pursuit of flying? How was that last vacation to your favourite holiday spot? These are just a couple of examples of people that found “Their Voice”.

Think back to those quiet kids I mentioned earlier. What if they never find it? What if no one helps to guide them, encourage them to speak up for themselves, or offer support? What kind of heartwarming, inspiring brilliance might we be missing out on? I made it my life's goal to pursue ways of never feeling like I was being victimized again. I used all my strength and when I needed a little extra, I used the help of my inner Demon. I studied Martial Arts, looked for positive father figure role models in every form I could think of. Movie characters, friends, family members all in the search to find ways to be a strong person who would never be afraid to stand up for myself and others who might need it as well. Too many times kids have crazy pressure put on them to stand up with no guidance or support. They should be given the tools and the encouragement to learn how to do it without being held back by a horrible fear of consequences.

It should be on the top of our priority list to search for our voice and not be afraid to use it. Once we have found it, help and encourage others to search and find their way to use their own. All of the years I pursued ways to use it, not only to protect but to express myself, better myself and find some success has been mostly a good journey. Lately I have been asking myself what good are all the years of working hard, standing in front and pushing through the darkness if I can’t pass it on in hopes of making someone else’s journey a little easier. Writing is one of the ways I express myself best and probably the way I like to share the most, so it was important to go back to it.

There is far more reward to trying to find your path than sitting idly by while the years pass, as you pile up regrets that could have been avoided. Taking unnecessary shit from people, instead of standing up for yourself and what you hold dear. Happiness should not be a dream, but a daily and un-compromised pursuit. We all need to be heard and feel like we are contributing something, even if it’s on a small level. There is something amazing when you witness someone start to find their inner strength or “Voice” that gives them a special glow and starts to really help start forming their true personality. I think if you ask some of those people that became famous how they were at finding their Voice, you might find out it wasn’t easy, but was absolutely worth it.

Figuring out how to manage that dark side, or inner Demon, can take time to learn how to control and manage. It is certainly better than having regret over the time you never stood up and put your best foot forward. I want you to think about a tough situation you’ve been through in your life. How did it turn out? Is there something left from it right now that might still keep you up at night? How are you going to rise to the next occasion? Can you live with the regret of never standing up for yourself or standing up for something or someone that matters to you?

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