I have always been afraid of silence.
Silence affords too much opportunity to disappear into the recesses of my mind, a trip from which I have convinced myself I may never return or recover. It threatens to pull me under and keep me prisoner, chained in perpetuity to the sadness and vulnerability that haunt me at every turn like waking nightmares.
I fear silence because I fear the white noise of my emotions. I fear what I hear when I take the time to parse apart the myriad frequencies into individual channels: You are wrong. You are bad. You are not good enough. You can’t do it. Don’t bother. Get smarter. Do better. Be better. Imperfect. You don’t deserve perfect. Strive for perfect. You are weak. They hate you. You hate them. Hide. Stay hidden. It’s your fault. Always your fault. Stop. Why bother? Run. Keep running. Just stop.
When did this become the music of my mind, forever and ever on a loop? Shame caws incessantly like a raven starved, scavenging in my head and ears, pecking through the haggard remains of my grieving spirit.
But one day, I chose silence.
Now I can hear the voice’s timbre, and it is not my own. It is that of strangers, of newscasts and narrators and memories. My own voice is elsewhere, willfully ignored in an attempt to preserve itself, waiting for me to sit still long enough to listen.
It is not silent. I hear it humming through the din, steadfast and confident, encouraging and fervent. I think I’ve heard it before among the shouts, almost as if by mistake in clips and cuts, but I have never spliced together its wordless tune.
Now I listen closely as it sings of hope. All is not lost. We are here. We are strong. You are here. You are strong. You are enough. You are trying. Keep trying. Do what you need to do. Do what you want to do. You are smart. You are good. You can be well. Perfection is not absolute. Perfect is what you are. You are loved. You are capable of loving. You are strong. It is okay to have moments of weakness. You are in control of your life. You are responsible for your life. Just let yourself be. Move when you can. Be still when you need. Just keep going. Stay with me.
In silence is peace as long as you are at peace with yourself. But I am not. I may never be. Instead, I will be forever haunted and hunted by grief. Silence remains a pathway to noise and shame. However, I am learning to navigate the void and tune in to the song my own soul sings. Sometimes I sing along.
Sometimes, I am silent.
©️2023 by Amy Shake