The Cost of Silence
I think parents experience the world in a different volume and tempo than the rest of society. Our idea of what is loud is probably significantly louder than what the usual human tolerates, probably because the screams of our children during the day is basically white noise. And what is "busy" to others is a walk in the park because we are juggling the lives of 2 or more others with no time to really reflect on whether we found the time to change our underwear. That is not to diminish the experience of non-parents out there - your lives are loud and busy, too! And if you say "my life is crazy loud and crazy busy", not only do we need to believe that experience but we need to acknowledge its reality for the human who says it is so.
I crave a bit of silence. A reprieve from the expected volume of my life. My kids go off to school and I often find that I don't even want to return a phone call to a friend or make an appointment at the doctor. I just don't want to hear anything, from myself or anybody. I want absolute silence. And I am always fighting for it because the world has other plans. But I have been thinking a lot about what that silence costs. Yeah - I think silence comes at a cost.
The best example I can come up with is a friend who gets upset with me because I don't communicate as frequently, or with as much fervor as she does. She is without kids, and will happily text and email funny stories and shout-outs about the news, links to new music or a story she read that resonated with her. I can do the same, but I just don't do it with regularity. And I often glance at the text and read it later, which then may or may not lead to me responding with more than a thanks or a chuckle emoji. It can be a few days before I respond. And my friend gets so irritated. And I understand. Sort of. But if I respond to each text of hers, along with the texts from others, I miss my opportunity to have my silence. The cost of my silence is that I may no longer have this person as a friend. My need to not respond in the moment, or at all, has likely alienated that friend and strained the friendship.
I'm troubled by this because I do believe that everyone, in every place, in every circumstance, deserves to have their peace. They don't even have to do anything to "earn" it - it belongs to you automatically just by nature of being you. Silence is yours to enjoy and no one should feel guilty for seeking it. And being someone who seeks silence, shuns the social media noise and happily holes up for hours at a time, I will reluctantly admit that whatever the cost of silence, it might be worth it.
I love my family and friends, but part of the reason I have the energy to love them and enjoy them when we are together is because I have given myself that silence. That time away to - do whatever I want with my senses. It actually doesn't matter what I do in lieu of communicating. I should not be asked to justify why I chose silence. It doesn't matter if my choice is valued or accepted, but we always take that risk when we live on our own terms and make our own choices. The cost of my silence might be a friendship or two. But maybe its fine to let those friends go who are offended by my silence, even when it is explained. I lose a few friends, but I can see how silence might have its benefits, too. I lose the friendship that is too fragile to withstand a little distance, but I gain the stronger relationship with myself. During all that silence I get to hear me, listen to me, experience me and love me. I get time with my best friend and my worst enemy - little old me. Silence with the world brings my life and feelings into stereo. I can finally hear me, and listen to me, and cut through all the noise.
I have not given up on my one friend that can't tolerate my silence. I hope she will find a little silence for herself and hear her own voice above the noise. She'll see how good that feels, and realize what she has been missing, maybe even see my actions in a whole new light. But its alright if she doesn't. I won't ever stop fighting for my silence in this loud world or ours. I'll pay the cost in some ways, but enjoy the rewards in so many others. After all is said and done, hearing myself is what really matters. Sometimes, I just need a bit of silence to do just that.