I’ve watched my daughter struggle for nearly twenty years to put words to her emotions when she is hurt or confused or angry.
When she needs to sort something out, I bring her meals, stroke her hair and whisper that I love her. And then I give her space. Because to watch her fight for words is painful. It’s as if putting words to her pain will cut her wounds open all over again.
But silence like that can be dangerous and not giving voice to the dark and twisty doesn’t make it not real.
For those of us who struggle to share our emotions, we need to find sacred space where we can throw all the pieces on the floor and sort them out. And we need people with the compassion and wisdom to be in that space with us.
The dark and twisty aren’t problems for which we seek a solution. The dark and twisty are stunning and painful truths that need to be absorbed and accepted. They are the ugly realities that can only be processed a bit at a time without breaking us. They don’t have an answer; they are revelations. They only have a tragically painful truth that creeps in and seduces our insecurities into submission.
Most often we are conditioned by fear not to speak these truths because of past rejection. It’s a vicious cycle. We struggle to share what we fear the most, and it becomes exponentially harder to share again if the person we have dared to confide in dismisses or rejects us. To share it, we have to face it and find courage to show it to someone else. Their reaction can often be more devastating than the silence
There is a real danger with silent souls, because we can give the appearance of deep connections that in reality only exist in one direction.
We take the time to look and listen very carefully. We hear the spoken words, make note of the silent expressions and feel the energy all around. We build a bridge between what has been shared and what has been revealed. And that sort of insight into another soul is almost always the foundation for a wonderful bond because we all want to be truly seen and understood.
But the average person won’t slow down their own vibration enough to tap into the soft steady hum at which silent souls communicate. So when we are truly understood, that is an unequalled treasure.
And those people exist, those souls who can slow down and see us as we are. There are treasured hearts and minds out there waiting to prove we are never truly alone. We’ve all felt that, right? Alone, misunderstood or too damaged to be loved? Then our tribe stumbles in and declares we aren’t alone. Hell, we aren’t even special. Because they are just as goofy and weird and damaged and confused—and exquisite.
Our tribe shows us by loving their flaws that ours are lovable too. So we must dare to speak out and share.
I’ve watched my daughter struggle with this. But it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized she gets it from me. And I felt a little glimpse of hope for souls like her and me—hope that silent souls find encouragement and those who orbit around the silent souls take note. Like he did for me.
When I needed him to see me, he saw me. He asked me what was wrong. He told me he’d never seen me more broken. And when I couldn’t find words, he said that was fine. He would wait until I could find them. Hour upon hour we talked about everything and nothing. We talked about work and friends and kids and books and life. But every so often, he’d stop and throw open the doors to silence and invite me to come out.
He asked again, and still there was no sound. So he distracted me with stories and adventures. Then he picked me up and put me in his lap, one arm under my knees as I folded like a rag doll and the other wrapped firmly around my back as I clung to him until I couldn’t get closer or warmer. And still I couldn’t speak or cry, and he accepted it.
We went to dinner. We went to the movies. We talked. We laughed. And ever so slowly the guard came down and I found my words somewhere in the darkness. Not well. Not enough. But I found them. And I dared to share them.
He didn’t run away or judge me or ridicule me. He acknowledged my truth and my pain. He stood in that space with me. He made neither too much nor too little of it, and he didn’t try to solve it.
He simply stood and looked at the truth alongside me. And that was it.
He hadn’t forgotten that I had something to share. He knew it wasn’t going away and neither was his concern for me. He didn’t let me get away with “seeming” fine. He let me know he hadn’t forgotten.
That’s the key for a person who struggles to speak their pain. And that’s what we have to find: those lights that see what’s trapped and give not only the necessary space, but the patience, persistent concern and love needed to coax us out of that small dark room.
So have courage, my sweet soul. Have the courage to not only be a friend, but to let others be a friend to you. When we stumble upon a new member of our tribe, we gain a little faith and confidence, and they get all of us.
All of the dark and twisty, glorious beauty that makes us who we are. All of the dark and twisty that is worthy of love.
Author: Cristy Courtney
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Donnie Nunley/Flickr