It is, I am realizing, grown deeply quiet in my head, these past few weeks.
There are roomfuls of quiet.
Oceans-wide of quiet.
No one in here, at last, but me.
* * *
I could grow used to this, I keep thinking, stretching as wide as I can—and even further the quiet space extends…
* * *
Not until I grew stable could I reliably distinguish my own inner voice, soft but sturdy, enough apart from the rest of the tumult that I have been able to peel those other voices away. Weeded them out of my mind like underbrush choking a garden, grown up over years and years of other people telling me who I am, what I am, what I think. Some have pulled out easily—opinions of me that have felt wrong from the beginning—while others have deep roots grown tightly knotted into my own.
These latter take longer to extricate yourself from. The voices of loved ones, so certain in their wrongness that you grow fearful they might be right. That maybe you are just what they say. And in the effort to prove them wrong, to resist what should never have been laid on you in the first place, you end up…different.
I am not, as one for-instance, a “drama queen.” Never have been. Makes no sense to call me that.
And yet, in fear that I might just be this hated, hateful term, I pared myself down over the years to such a small, silent shell. I searched for the most palatable ways to describe any negative feelings I might have, if I admitted to having them at all.
As if one could ever school away all negative feelings. Separate out the feelings you don’t want from those you do, like so much chaff from wheat, and let through only those feelings most socially acceptable.
You end up letting nothing through.
And, just like me, living in a very gray [though perhaps unendurably noisy] world.
Writing that last sentence, I begin to wonder all over again if I haven’t been a “drama queen” after all. What were all those cheery, happy, easy-to-love, put-strangers-at-their-ease, ain’t-nobody-wailing-in-grief-and-anguish-and-loneliness-around-HERE! times, at their core, if not the performance of a lifetime?
* * *
I wrote up a chart for my therapist last week, detailing all of the physical and emotional symptoms I’d been having, in the stressful months leading up to Memorial Day weekend. [The stress of that weekend being a story unto itself, and not one I am ready yet to tell.]
“Holy…pardon me—FUCK,” choked out the normally soft-spoken and genteel woman, in one of her exceedingly rare moments of profanity. “Where was I when all this was going on? How did I miss it??”
I blinked at her, nonplussed.
Of course I hadn’t mentioned any of these symptoms, when they started to come back again after last fall. Why would I? I have lived with near-constant hallucinations of knives slicing open my arms (to take just one example) throughout most of my adult life. Having them cease for many months was a deep pleasure, no doubt, but having them return seemed not surprising enough to share.
Better to be grateful for a respite than make some fuss about a burden.
I am—by design—not one to make a dramatic fuss.
* * *
“All this,” I am pleased again to report, is no longer going on. I realized it had stopped rather suddenly at 6:20pm on Saturday, May 27, during the tail-end of a cocktail party on a cross-campus lawn at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
But I shall wait a little longer (a small, delicious slice of time longer) before I try to write that story down. I choose instead to let myself luxuriate in this quiet while it is still so new.
So blissfully strange.
So very, very quiet.
So very, very, very good.
* * *