How Are You Doing With The Silence?

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“Like ships in the night letting cannonballs fly” 

"How are you doing with the silence?"

“I think okay.”

The Notes section in my iPhone would tell you I’m a liar because for every moment that asked me to sit quietly I filled it with words.

There are Spotify playlists for every color I try to paint the silence with. For a while I couldn’t listen to music because it sang me into thoughts of a future that neither God nor a doctor would guarantee me until final test results came in. 

I wanted guarantees, I got silence.

I sat in the quiet and, yeah, I let it teach me a lot, but I also gave it free range to help me bury myself and the deeper feelings I had. The ones I could cover with laughs when what it begged of me were tears. There were minutes on the clock that were assigned to anger, but I gave them to pitying instead. There were moments that were meant to sit in love and I bypassed them unceremoniously. I didn’t want them anymore. 

I told myself I was choosing silence because it was better than admitting that it was imposed and that if I actually sat in it fully it would ask of me things that I could not, did not want to give it.

Silence does that. It sits by you during your hardest moments and asks you questions you never wanted to ask, makes you face answers you never wanted to face. It tangles you up and constricts, only to remind you that release comes from breathing into the moment instead of resisting it. 

But it’s hard. To not resist. To not overcompensate. 

“All the words that we can bleed”

Every time it got quiet in the hospital room, I would say something. Anything. Because it was easier than fixating on the screen to my right that had 8 pictures in a row of 3 lumps that had a Mickey Mouse shape and lived in my left breast. 

Every time I was sitting in bed, I would search for the Apple TV remote, turn it to Friends, just to have something playing in the background that wouldn’t have me buried in my own worries. Comedic relief by way of Netflix for the days when I couldn’t do it for myself. 

When I was completely submerged in a bathtub, I would put on a podcast, because the water running wasn’t loud enough to drown out my longing on its own.

I wanted guarantees, I got silence.

I don’t do well with having words and not knowing where to put them. I made promises at the beginning of important relationships that went along the lines of “I promise to never have conversations with the you that exists in my head.” 

Silence asks me to break that promise. I put up a fight because what good would talking to myself do? 

Instead I put the radio up in the car, put my foot on the gas, and experiment with how fast you’d have to go, how reckless you’d need to be, how unworthy and small you have to consider yourself, how scared of getting everything you've ever wanted you would need to be, to outrun all the things that carry their weight in gold. 

60, 70, 80, 90.

I don’t think I’m made for this kind of sabotaging. So I tap the break, bring it to a slow descend, and let Jesus take the wheel. 

80, 70, 60, 50. 

Carrie Underwood would be proud. 

“Build it up to tear it down"

Every time the doctor answered a question with “We can’t say.” or “I can’t confirm that.” I would let my head drop against the makeshift towel pillow and try to say a joke. I can effectively confirm that doctors at the breast clinic are not inclined to laugh at a 25-year-old’s joke about Mickey Mouse shaped lumps. 

So, we would sit in silence. 

I wanted guarantees, I got silence. 

I got other people talking over me. I got other people talking at me. I got other people telling me what was good for me. I got my gut telling me one thing, my heart telling me another, my mind telling me to fuck it all. I got my body screaming at me, to me, for me. I got lyrics on lyrics on lyrics. I got videos on videos on videos. I got words on words on words. All of them filling the silence with everything but what I actually wanted. Companionable silence. A joke that I knew would be funny in the right setting. A reality that I knew would be less heavy when shared with the right shoulders. 

"Maybe we crash into each other to feel alive" 

We all have an emotional toolbox that we fill up over the years. New tools are acquired through life, relationships, therapy, meditation, through hitting the same walls over and over again and not wanting to hit them again. I cap out on emotional tools when it comes to sitting (and staying) in anger and apparently in acceptance that not all silence is wasted time. 

Silence can feel like killing time when in reality it saves lives. It saves from broken marriages, from kids who have to deal with past trauma the minute they become adults, from believing that your achievements somehow absolve you from laundry or dish duty. 

“How are you doing with the silence?” 

Better than most, worse than some. It’s in the process. It’s in the learning to not be my worst enemy and to be my best company. It’s in being okay with giving myself time to be quiet during a season that allows it, it’s about not resisting. 

Because maybe the next season will have me telling old stories to new people. Making same promises, saying some vows, speaking out loud. Maybe in that season I’ll miss the silence. The quiet. The chance to hear myself. 

“How are you doing with the silence?” 

Okay. I’m doing okay. 

Have you noticed my weight in gold? The silence speaks volumes of it.