17 May 2012
I’ve always wanted to do a silent retreat. From the first time I ever heard it existed, I’ve wanted to do one. I have a feeling I’ll probably become addicted to them.
I’m a person who thrives in silence. Especially because my work life is so filled with constant chatter. I work with all men by day and if you think women are chatty, we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Ha-ha! My part time job is also a chat-fest. No matter what job I am at, people always want to know what I am doing in that moment and if they don’t ask about that then they have to tell me something random. I’m not always interested.
I’m not an idle chit-chat kind of person. I have no use for it. I have no patience for it. I think it’s a time filler and I could be doing better things with my time. I also believe that if you have nothing worthwhile to say then don’t say anything. It may sound cranky but not everyone’s a chitchat person. A little bit of silence never hurt anyone.
There are so many reasons why people engage in idle chit-chat. It’s a way to avoid the silence. For many people it’s uncomfortable to be with someone and not talk. Some people feel that they’re being rude if they don’t talk. Some people don’t understand that you can be connected in silence with a simple smile. Some people just love the sound of their own voices. Some people are bored and want you to be their entertainment. Some people are trying to get you to like them …
For me, the constant chatter drains me. I’m a good listener, a great listener actually, and it’s exhausting being a great listener. I empathize with what I hear, I feel it emotionally and physically. I have anxiety and worry for the person I am listening to if it’s a troubled story. I feel heavy in my shoulders if the chatter is just foolishness. It’s all energy.
I was raised to be seen and not heard. I’m of that generation. Being seen and not heard, something I perfected, meant I did a lot of listening. I knew a lot about the adults, things that I shouldn’t have known at my age, but I was so good at being quiet, they’d forget that I was there. And if they’d look over at me to see if I was listening I’d busy myself in some way or not show any facial reaction, to make it seem like I didn’t understand what I was listening to. I literally was raised to be a good listener.
It’s hard now, though, as an adult, and I almost need to shake it off, shake that energy out. It’s hard to explain. Part of it is because I’ve actually never analyzed it, I just know that it drains me.
I found myself at one point in 2003, feeling down in the dumps for an extended period of time, subsequently being diagnosed with depression and refusing to go on the meds (for a year minimum). I always go through cycles/seasons where I need more time to myself and I need to cocoon and recharge to be healthy. In 2002/2003, that season turned into an entire year. It wasn’t healthy anymore. I made the decision that it was my thinking that got me into this trouble so I’d have to use my thinking to get me back out of it.
I took a hard look at the people in my life, what they gave me, what I felt they took away from me. We can really spend an entire lifetime doing what everybody else wants in the name of maintaining relationships. I looked at how much I loved the people in my life. Was the love strong enough for me to continue the way things were? Was the love strong enough to commit to discussing with them the changes I needed for us to remain in each others lives? I became more honest about how I felt. And most importantly, I became more precious about my time.
My time. I’m not going to leave my house to sit at your house to watch TV. I can stay home and watch the shows I actually want to see. I’m not going to suffer through another dinner with friends of yours who I’m not in love with (not even in like with)if that’s the only way I can spend time with you. I’m not going to come spend time with you on your work break to have to sit through a thousand and one people coming up to talk to you because they just have to tell you something that they could have told you all day long. And you don’t bother to say, “Listen, come see me later, I’m with my friend Shelley who I never get to see.”
My time. Hah, Depression made me learn to put myself first in My Life. I’m not going to do everything your way so you feel great and I feel like an exhausted piece of shit. My life.
I’m such a firm believer that illness is an indication that change needs to happen in our lives. The gift of illness is like a decluttering. With my stomach problems when I was a teenager, my doctor a stomach specialist, told me to speak up for myself otherwise I’d be sick for the rest of my short life. Because I wouldn’t live long with those stomach problems that I had.
In 1991, My Naturopath asked me after I’d been hospitalized for 2 weeks with 3 types of rashes all over my body, “What or who is getting under your skin? What’s making your blood boil that’s turning your skin into 3 rashes?”
And in 2000, after two years of getting colds where my ears would fill with liquid and I couldn’t hear, I finally started to ask myself, “What do I not want to hear?”
Today, Idle chit chat is one of the things I don't want to hear. lol
The thing about listening to others all the time is that, at some point, I can no longer hear that voice in my head. You know that voice? She’s so quiet. She whispers and she only whispers once and her whisper is connected to my gut. Somehow her whisper yanks me in my gut , untangles the knot, and creates a subtle energy within me that makes me nod my head once and I know what I need to do in a surefooted, tunnel vision, focused way. She brushes over my mounting fear when I’ve reached my limit in a situation and burn a bridge. Sometimes the only way you can leave or change is by burning that bridge, leaving yourself with no choice. She whispers “don’t worry I’ll lead you through this. Just listen.”
When I make the space to stop listening to every chatty Cathy, I create the room within me to hear myself.
John Francis, a Pisces like me, made me think about listening and silence. 17 years of not talking?