The loudest noise in the whole world is silence.
In every other instance, we find ourselves able to drown the silence out with noise, with chaos, with the comings and goings of our daily lives. We can occupy our time, and our minds, with the menial tasks that we throw ourselves into on a daily basis. We distract ourselves with work, with mindless television shows, with our hobbies, with our friends.
Until everyone goes home. Or we run out of supplies. Or we run out of money. Or we run out of work to do.
And then there is silence.
Suffocating, deafening, all-encompassing. It’s in the silence that we hear ourselves. It’s in the silence that we hear all of the things we want to hear, and all of the things we never wanted to hear. It’s the silence that makes us look at ourselves under a microscope, that makes us dissect every little thing we’ve ever thought, every little thing we’ve ever heard, every little thing that everyone has ever said to us, or about us.
It’s in the silence that we, for better or worse, internalize those things. It’s in the silence that we over-analyze these things until they become second nature – whether they are true or not, whether we accept that they are true or not, we make them a part of ourselves.
There’s been a lot of silence at my house lately. Too much silence. Botboy is away, communication from him is minimal (and I sort of assumed that would happen). And while I miss him, that’s not really the biggest worry that I have – because eventually, all of that will, for better or worse, resolve itself.
No, the deafening silence comes from all of the anxiety over the things that were said to me at Christmas. But let me begin at the (sort of) beginning. My mother and I have a strange relationship. We were close, once, when I was little and malleable. As I grew up, though, and my stubborn streak came into play, she became more and more frustrated with me, and more and more disappointed when I did not live up to the things she wanted for me. This has snowballed into disappointment over a bad marriage, an even more humiliating divorce, a move that placed me 1000 miles away from her, the fact that I do not go to church regularly (or really at all, unless I’m home and need to keep appearances up– she’d die if she knew what I was really doing), a modeling career she did not approve of, etc. I suppose it is the breaking point that I am not, and cannot, live up to being the person, even personally, that she wants me to be. Because what she really wants is the bubbly, cheerleader type of child, that listens, that will go to church with her, and that is not full of strange ideas. Now, I’m not an unhappy person… or even a negative person… but I am sarcastic. A smart ass. And I have many, many strange ideas and interests that she does not understand… beginning with the strong aversion to chick flicks (Downton Abbey excluded, I’ll admit, I’m hooked) with flowery, happy endings.
Which is why, I suppose, she decided over Christmas to sit me down in the living room and accuse me of being bipolar. I’m not. And she’s no professional. But diagnose me she did. On top of that, she (and my father too – at a different time during that visit) seemed intent on assuring me that I would never really be happy married and that I shouldn’t worry too much about having children. I looked at each of them, coldly, and said that they were right… I would never be happy if I were married to the wrong person. But had I married the right person, things might have turned out very differently. And as for children, I do want them very much. Being thirty-one without any, when that is what I really do want, is frustrating.
But what’s worse is having your own parents, the people that are supposed to be supportive of you, sit you down and just throw it in your face as if it were nothing. Granted, I did not tell her that those two things were my biggest fears (not marrying, and not having children). I don’t admit ANY of my fears readily to people (oops, I guess I just did – GASP) and certainly not to them, who have not always been the most understanding people to talk to. I keep those things largely to myself. Wrapped in grubby newspaper in the back of my head in a corner so that I don’t have to think about them very often. I’ve even managed to do that, to a large extent, with the majority of their disapproval – I accepted long ago that they were never going to approve of me for ME. I learned to live with it by throwing it into the back of my mind, in its own compartment, so that I didn’t have to look at it. I like myself well enough, my friends seem to like me well enough, didn’t matter what they thought.
Except for times like this… when my sister decides to get married, and I’m expected to be there. I love my sister. We haven’t always gotten along either, but I do love my sister. It’s not her fault that our mother wishes I could be more like her, and it’s not her fault that they wildly preferred to go to her school functions over mine. It’s not even her fault that they canceled their fall trip to Florida because she decided to go on vacation with them. She didn’t have anything to do with that any more than we had anything to do with our opposing hair color. But I do not want to go. I do not want to put myself through that ordeal again, of having to sit there, and be psychoanalyzed by my own parents. I do not want to, by proxy, have my own failed marriage brought into the limelight again, and have to answer questions about whether or not I am seeing anyone (because I can’t go into detail, period, about anything – not when things are so up in the air). Not because I can’t bear it when I am in the middle of it… for me it’s like a personal battle I have to fight – how much can I endure without cracking?
But because once it’s all said and done, I have to come home to the silence. Where there is no one to continually put me under a microscope, but also where there is no one to distract me from my own thoughts. It doesn’t matter whether I believe her or not. Because I don’t. Not really. But that doesn’t mean those stupid inner demons don’t keep poking at me, whispering about how I can’t even keep a man in my life for longer than a few months these days, how I can’t get into anything stable and healthy, how my damned clock is ticking louder and louder and louder, and how I really can’t say for sure when it’s going to stop since my biological mother died long before she hit menopause. Whispering how do I KNOW she is wrong?
No, I’d prefer to stay here… not that the demons don’t whisper at me, they do. The silence is deafening because they not only echo the insecurities that were brought painfully into the center ring over Christmas, but because there is the anxiety over this unfinished Botboy situation and the acknowledgement that I have no control over it. That said, those insecurities are largely under control. Or at least they are managed. But I’ve managed them so well that I don’t want to add any more to the load. And I know that if I go up there, more would be added. I know that the load would become heavier than it is already. I can carry it… I am freakishly strong for my size. And I’ve carried far worse in my day. But I’m tired of carrying this shit around.
I’m not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination. And I don’t really know what I believe sometimes. But if I were a praying person, I’d pray that someone would come along to prove her wrong. And that someday I can put a family together that will thrive on building each other up instead of tearing each other down; a family that is not so over-involved with appearances that they don’t push the “different” one into a corner somewhere and lavish approval on the one that is more normal. But, even more, I’d pray for an atmosphere in which the silence is peaceful, and not so deafening.
It’s not a lot to ask.
But maybe, in this case, it’s simply too much.