Greetings Inkpot readers, today we have a blog post from MFAC alum Leah Hilsabeck-Lowrey. In this true story, Leah shares the dangers of “holding your tongue” and how keeping things bottled up can affect your productivity and well being.

I see a cranial sacral specialist for my shoulders. That’s what I tell people, anyway. In truth, I see Wendy because I leave feeling lighter and more at peace than I do leaving a $200 therapy session. The pain relief is just a side benefit.

“Your jaw is tight.” Wendy’s English accent somehow always makes her words seem that much wiser. “You’ve been holding your tongue.” I didn’t pay her much mind. My jaw hadn’t been bothering me, and besides, I was there for my shoulders.

A month later found me at my dentist with complaints of shooting pains through my teeth every time I took a drink or bit in to something juicy. “Your jaw is tight. You’ve been grinding your teeth.”

I should have known better than to doubt Wendy.

“It’s what happens to us good girls. There are certain things good girls just aren’t supposed to say. We keep our mouths shut.”

This was not a problem I was familiar with. Maybe back in middle school, before my debate coach taught me to verbally obliterate any schmuck who stood in my way. Maybe before that. But holding my tongue? Now? It seemed unlikely.

That night I sat in front of my computer, new mouth guard in place, staring at the manuscript I had been too paralyzed to touch for four months. I had not been holding my tongue. I bought the biggest, roundest, greenest watermelon ten dollars could buy, and at six o’clock in the morning, my husband met me outside with his sledgehammer.

With the first swing, I smashed the boy who compared me to Stephanie Meyer. With the second, every person who ever told me my master’s was “nice”. With the third, the voice that still reminded me I could have gone to law school. And finally, over and over again, the demon that wouldn’t let me write a word. That told me, over and over again, none of them were good enough.

I handed my husband the sledgehammer and left the pulp for the birds. We had a five hour drive to make. The whole way there, I wrote.

I no longer wear my mouth guard.