The Truth About Silence

Silence has always been an important part of my life. My parents used silence in different ways. My mother’s quiet silence was terrifying, and always signaled her displeasure at something I had done. My father’s silence was measured and his attention was always focused on work… so when he broke his silence to speak, his words were golden.

And, me, as a curious child I loved the silence of the library because I could sit quietly and discover a world outside of my own. Silence meant that I could escape into the pages of the books surrounding me… I loved silence because the truth always seemed apparent when it showed itself.

In high school, I learned quickly that words are not always the best way to demonstrate truth in an argument. Instead, steadfast silence in the face of irrational, angry, and nothing-to-lose arguments always won out. A teacher once asked me why I didn’t stand up for myself in a barrage of insults from a classmate, and I remember thinking with such clarity how foolish my teacher was to not understand that jumping into the jumble of angry words and fighting didn’t make me any more right. I calmly told her, “I don’t need to explain the truth. It is the truth.”

Over the years, I have felt silence around me, and understood that the discomfort that people feel with silence speaks to a deeper underlying discomfort with the thoughts in their minds. I, too, have felt discomfort in silence when my mind is busy with unhappy thoughts, so I understand the inability to sit in silence.

I’ve recently found that the same silence that I have embraced as a child and as a student, is the same silence that I despise in relationships. With all that happens in life, when seeking a partner in life, I have discovered that silence is something I dislike and makes me unhappy. I want there to be communication between us, verbal or otherwise.

I’m seeing someone who is silent on the topic of his emotions, his life, and anything outside of telling me how beautiful I am to him. It’s been silence from him over the last few days, and I realized something in this silence.

I care for him deeply, and I love him for a lot of reasons. But, I don’t love him enough. There is something to be said about love that overcomes the once insurmountable, and I don’t have that for him. When I see him, he needs someone that loves him for everything he is and will become. He needs someone to help him become the man he wants to be, and I know that I am not that person for him. I want to be that person, because he healed me when we met when I was broken and sad. I want to be that person for him, but I can’t because I feel pieces of myself erode trying to be that person.

With silence comes the truth – maybe that’s why we live in a constant barrage of sound and stimuli. We flood ourselves with music, color, and distraction so the truths that hurt us are drowned out. I think I tried to do the same with him… I tried so hard to chatter away the silence, and to be the person I wanted to be for him and that he needs in his life. But the truth of the matter is that I don’t have it in me, and I’m too selfish to give up so much of myself for him… because I just don’t love him enough.

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