Hymns to the silence
Sometimes at the end of my work day or early in the morning
I sit and listen to the house
the hiss of the rads
the wind on the old window panes
the creaky floors that shift when the cats walk around
the small sounds that fill the silence.
I used to hate it.
I hated how it filled my ears and made space for thoughts that I didn't wanna think about
anxieties, stresses, the usual bs
when I was younger I got a cassette player and then a discman and then a bunch of variations of iPods
and all through that time I'd walk around with my earphones in whenever I could
blocking out the silence and all the sad, stressful thoughts that came with it
at one point it got so bad that I hated even taking my earphones out while I was getting changed at the gym.
I'd do these weird contortions with my clothes and my body and my earphone cables so I didn't interrupt the constant stream of
that filled my ears and didn't leave space for anything else.
I did this for years, decades even, until I started going to therapy and my therapist was like
"did it never occur to you that this is an avoidance technique?
That when you listen to music or podcasts all the time you're literally blocking out thoughts and feelings that you don't wanna hear?"
and what's funny about someone saying something like that is that it's so obvious when they say it but until they do
until the words are out there and you can't avoid them with
suddenly what you've been doing becomes painfully obvious.
I'd like to say that it flipped a switch in me. That when I suddenly became aware of it I was able to sit in silence in my house, on the bus, at the gym
but I'm a human being and not a light switch, so it didn't work that way.
As it turned out it took concerted effort and several years of working at home by myself to get used to
the small sounds that fill it
how it sometimes makes my thoughts feel
because of it
there's a clarity that can be found in the lack of noise that can be deafening, sometimes.
I've noticed it most when I'm going through something hard.
The earbuds go back in. Podcasts get ramped up. Music blares 24/7.
It's like I can't leave space for my thoughts because it feels like, if I do
I'll fall apart.
Lately I've been wearing my earbuds a lot.
There's scary shit happening in the world, life's been stressful, and tbh I've needed a GD break from everything so I've been indulging in this habit a little more than usual, or than I'd usually feel comfortable doing now that I know this is a coping mechanism.
But the other day I was up early and walked around, listening to the house and feeling ok
and yesterday, and today, and the day before that I was able to do the same
and though the world still feels like it's on fire and there's still stresses in daily life
it's nice to feel like I can make space for my thoughts in the silence again.