If you need to assume anything assume that all silences from now on have grief in them.
Rick Moody/The Albertine Notes
Silence is beautiful to me.
To an introvert, and I think we’ve established my credentials in that regard, silence and solitude are nearly as essential as air and water. Talking a lot leads to silence until my inner scale is re-calibrated and I can talk again. With a job which requires a lot of talking, I require long periods of silence to avoid inner meltdown. Since my job is how I pay for the other essentials in life, that silence happens in my off time. When I come home from work, I don’t want to do anything but not hear or say anything for a while. Sometimes a long while.
That means that the people who have to put up with the quiet are the ones I am the closest to. It’s a balancing act for me to meet my own need to recharge with the needs of my partner, friends and family. Vashon thinks I should talk to him on a more than occasional basis, which I hear is a common request from a romantic partner. That is a challenge to me both because of the introversion and because I have always been a secret keeper. Work in progress. It always will be, because it doesn’t come naturally to me.
My hobbies are also largely silent. Writing. Reading. Making things. Daydreaming. Having imaginary conversations with people. Yes, daydreaming and having imaginary conversations are too hobbies. They’re also the sorts of things that require a certain amount of concentration and freedom from distraction.
Yes. I really just said that daydreaming requires freedom from distractions. Yes, I am serious. Whatever.
Still, those are largely temporary silences. Healthy silences. My brain is resting and restoring. I’m doing things I love. Things that make me happy. They’re the sort of silences that I require to maintain a certain veneer of sanity, and I am well aware that it asks a lot of a partner. I come home needing quiet, and then want even more quiet so I can do something I enjoy.
You might wonder why I insist on living with other people. I’ve wondered myself. I’m generally pretty content to be alone with the silence. Is it fair to inflict it on people who have more of a need to talk and share than I do?
Recently I’ve had to cut back on most of my hobbies due to time and space constraints and it hasn’t gone very well. I seem to need a creative outlet as much as I need quiet. What will I do about that? I live with someone who needs a partner who is engaged and communicating, not someone who is sitting quietly thinking about the next imaginary conversation she’s writing.
Given my love of quiet, it’s ironic that the ultimate weapon someone can wield against me is silence. It’s the saddest sort of silence when words fail and all you can do is stop even trying to speak. You can’t respond to nothing. You can only flail and guess. To someone with an overactive imagination who likes to overthink everything, silence means I go into imagination and assumption overdrive.
The silence when two people want to say something to each other and can’t are the worst for me. When there is so much damage and hurt that one or both sides just quit speaking at all it breaks my heart more than just about anything else could.
Silence is as ugly then as it is normally beautiful to me.