I’ve written about silence a time or twelve in my blog before, but always in the context of the BDSM play…being gagged, being told to be silent. It was hot, it was exciting, it could be humiliating, it could be a huge turn-on. I loved it, because I love to talk, and having my voice taken from me is powerful.

Since W’s death, silence has a new meaning for me.

I used to work in silence, all day. When I worked from my home office, I never turned on the TV, didn’t play music and even kept the sound off on my laptop. There was no one home for 8 hours a day but me and the dog, and I didn’t visit with neighbors. Same thing when I was working at my old office. Coworkers referred to my office as my cave because I’d disappear into it and not come out for 8 hours except to use the restroom. Getting used to the foot traffic in my new place of employment has been a challenge, but not one I’ve minded. One of my and W’s goals for me at my new job was to be more social, and I was learning the ins and outs of office/work relationships. But still, I don’t like extraneous noise, and don’t play the radio in my office, or have the TV or music on at home when I’m alone.

Or at least I didn’t, before W died.

Suddenly, I couldn’t tolerate silence. Silence meant I would think, and thinking meant thinking about what had happened, what I had lost. I couldn’t bear it.

I watched television obsessively, for hours, during those first days after he died, when I wasn’t sleeping or crying. I listened to audiobooks when I was alone, and sometimes even when I went to bed until I fell asleep, the words droning in my head. I used texting, online chatting and emailing as distraction when I couldn’t have noise – reading also seemed to do the trick. I couldn’t do yoga, because I couldn’t even contemplate the kind of silence I normally relish when I do it, sinking down into that quiet space inside myself, so like (and yet unlike) subspace. I filled my world with words and noise to drown out my thoughts, my despair, my fear.

About two months after W’s death, I decided to try to bear silence for a short period. I had started walking at lunchtime again occasionally as a coping mechanism recommended by my counselor, and because it was one of those “normal” activities that I had stopped doing when my life stopped being normal. I would challenge myself to walk in silence for one lap around the track, that was all. As the hour approached though, I began to feel anxious. My heart started pounding, my breath came short, I felt panicky. I looked at my bottle of anxiety meds, which I hadn’t had to take consistently for awhile. I ignored them. If I was going to do this, I had to do it on my own, without a crutch.

And I did it. I did my entire walk, 30 minutes worth, in silence. I tried to sit in the shade afterward that way as well, but couldn’t manage that. Apparently being silent and still was still outside my emotional capabilities.

Then came Tryst. And a lot of time that I devoted to practicing silence; stillness. And then I started doing very short morning yoga sessions. I still wasn’t letting myself go too deep down, but it was a start. Last weekend, I actually drove, alone, for three hours to a friend’s house by a lake (with my audiobooks, but driving alone even with the audiobooks for long periods – being alone for long periods at all – has been a challenge in its own right.) But, even though I almost canceled, I pushed myself, and did it. And then, every morning, because I wake before anyone else, I spent a couple hours alone down by the lake as the sun came up. I cried a lot, but it was a cleansing cry, the kind I often have at home in the morning in the shower. It seems to have the same affect that doing Morning Pages used to do.

Yesterday, when I signed up for a yoga class, the reading assignment for the week was The Power of Concentration. And I’ve been trying to practice the things the writer talks about.

I am trying to let silence be my friend again. It’s a cautious step – there are a lot of demons out there in the silence waiting to bite me when my guard is down. And sometimes, when I am weakened and tired and demoralized, I just can’t do it. But I try again, and again. Someday, I will hike again, and listen to the soughing of the wind in the trees, and feel peace. Someday, I will work in my garden and listen to the grass growing and flowers blooming and feel accomplishment. Someday, I will sit on my deck at dusk and listen to the cicadas and the crickets singing their nightly song and feel contentment. And maybe someday, I’ll even feel happiness in the silence again.

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