2017-05-27 07.51.43
Yale Univ. May 27, 2017.

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.

Me, alone.

* * *

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.

* * *

2017-05-27 08.17.22
The author. Taken May 27, 2017, New Haven, CT.



37 thoughts on “Quiet

  1. I’ve also spent much of my life trying not to be a drama queen… but I also tried not to be a feminist… until I realized that people only say such negative things about “these types of people” because they want to squash us and limit us and take away our voices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup. Calling someone a “drama queen” for expressing her valid thoughts and feelings is such a smorgasbord of tone-policing and gaslighting all rolled into one, isn’t it. The purpose of which is nothing but silencing and control.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “I searched for the most palatable ways to describe any negative feelings I might have, if I admitted to having them at all.”

    I relate so strongly to this. It’s been a massive struggle to be able to openly admit to being not-OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. Lotsa testing the waters (“what happens if I admit to being a *little bit* not-okay? In just this one way?”) and lotsa LOTSA work-in-progress… ❤


  3. I’ve been told I’m “over-reacting” so many times, I don’t trust my own reactions. I tend to let things pass that take my friends’ breath away. That balance is hard to find, between over-reacting and non-reaction. I think I can learn much from your stretching in the quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we find our best balance in how we are reflected back by those who accept us as we are. Blogging (at least in my experience!) is a powerful space for finding ourselves reflected, and reflecting back in turn…

      (Not to say I wouldn’t trade the blogosphere in a hot minute for a realio-trulio dragon! But still. Even without dragons, a good place to share with friends.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a bit of peace.
    Who are we to go around screaming at everyone about things they can’t understand? I do, on occasion. It never helps them understand.
    I’d rather be quiet than try to normalize things that aren’t normal. Whatever. I’m glad you give voice to your own struggles.
    I love the imagery of your words. So good. So very, very good.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “Normalize things that aren’t normal.” Yes, that exactly. All the voices boil down to other people’s discomfort with the possibility something actually WAS wrong. Actually was NOT normal. Thank you for seeing that!
      (It feels good to be seen. So very, very good… 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. A double*like for this. One thing about a drama queen – that title belongs only to the screamers, the youngers, the over-done (and some of them do it well), but the other drama-queens – the quiet ones who go around being the Saint of Something to assist the journey of others; they’re the good drama queens, they yell at the world for you, show you the path even if they have to push everyone else off for a moment. I’ve known a few of those, had my life saved by one in particular (love ya, Dana). Drama is Action – a drama queen is the person undertaking action on your behalf (or you, doing it for yourself, or showing others how to do it).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m all for drama as action — and your friend Dana sounds great! [hi dana! *waves*]

      Still though, I have ZERO interest in rehabilitating the “DQ” term. For me, the deepest wounds and sharpest betrayals run through this name — moments I will never forget, and may well never forgive. I shudder just saying it out loud…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It gives a person hope, to see someone succeed at quelling inner demons. Feel free to write the follow-up How To book for the rest of us. Working title: Demon Slaying for the Inner Warrior.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I love the way you articulate this “stuff.” It’s there for all of us but many don’t see it as clearly as you do. And you are so right about that nugget of truth in the most successful gaslighting. It’s enough to put a person in a spin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks — I’ve worked pretty damn hard to figure my “stuff” out 🙂 , and it’s gratifying to hear it’s resonant for other people too.

      No, more than gratifying — it’s *grounding*. Because gaslighting also functions most effectively in very enclosed relationships: when you become highly dependent on the opinion of one other person (spouse, boss, best friend) or a small group (like a closed family system). It’s much harder to be made crazy when you have access to a wide range of other voices, mirroring you back to yourself.

      (One primary function of this blog, I am now realizing, is to crowd-source my own sanity!! Lol.)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. It’s hard to draw a distinctive line between what we really are and what other people say we are. It’s a boundary that I have trouble defining also. How much is too much? Am I being reasonable or am I being gaslighted? Wish I knew the answers more often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here — even as I recognize that I am seeking clear answers where clear answers never exist. We are changed by what we resist as much as by what we accept, by people with good intentions as much as (if not more than) by those intending ill.

      The most effective gaslighting always contains some seeds or semblance of truth, of what we already give power to as truth. Else we would see it sooner, before such choking beliefs could flourish…

      Liked by 2 people

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