With all the noise and chatter in this world, there are times when a silence can be louder than any cacophony happening around you. There is good and bad to silences, as there is to anything in this life. When you come upon a good silence, there is nothing else like it. That silence that allows a moment to truly exist as it sinks into all your senses, and the action of talking would make you miss something. Whether it be the silence that lets you know you are being listened to and cared for, or that feeling of love you see in someone’s eyes when they look at you and nothing has to be said. Conversely, the bad silences can unexpectedly stab you in the back and leave you for dead. There is the silence that comes from someone you care about after you have been honest and forthcoming about a matter.
The silence they choose to “speak” rather than give their thoughts in return. Or what about the lover that turns to silence when moments arise where they could let you know how they feel about you, how they appreciate you, or how they support the person you are, whether it is in words, or in a note, or text, or email. I’m not speaking of the act of one blowing smoke up one’s ass, or a lover having to constantly validate their partner for psychological damage control purposes. I am referring to the simple act of verbalizing and letting a person, a lover, or family member know how they are regarded and appreciated. Whether it is a quick statement of affection after a good conversation, or a random comment of appreciation in passing after doing something nice for the other.
So many types of silences--so many things said. You can be left speechless yourself by trying to figure out what the various silences really mean, and of course one must keep in mind that sometimes there is no meaning to a silence. It could just be you that is sensitive for whatever reason. But it is the pattern of silences by your significant other, where things can become tricky and you must decide if this friendship, or lover, is worth you always giving 110% of yourself with no thanks, or being open and loving without reciprocation.
In those cases when a silence really has left you hanging out to dry, ears burning to hear some sort of reply, you may resort to filling in the blanks for the other person. You essentially start Mad Libbing, if you will, the silences and the people who make them in order to make sense out of a given situation.
These efforts may be able to alleviate some of your frustration of being left hanging by someone you care about, and maybe it can bring you some sort of understanding of your lover or friend giving you the silent treatment. You may even feel compassion for the person if your Mad Libbing makes you realize that maybe the parents did a number on the person, where kind words and affection were scarce. Or maybe it was a previous lover (or many) that spun this person to the point of shut down. Maybe it is believed that making no effort of response or giving limited forms of affection is best, because if you give too much you may actually feel something. The only problem with filling in the blanks is that all of these things could‘ve happened, or not; it is all just speculation, you aren’t telepathic (much to many a woman’s chagrin), and you are still in the situation of being left hanging by someone you care about more than they care about you, otherwise they wouldn’t have left you hanging.
It was argued with me once how “Actions speak louder than words.” The person touting this age-old adage was rebutting his own silence, letting me know that words aren’t as important as an action. I concurred that words can be misleading and I have been duped many times by empty, meaningless words, and actions are indeed important and a big telltale sign of one’s intent. But what I contend is how the action of not speaking and giving of oneself through verbal connection, is in itself an action. One can be glib and proud all they want of their silence, but bigger damage can be done when the bonds of friendship or a loving relationship aren’t supported with kind words, or reciprocated efforts of sharing each other’s thoughts and feelings. When it is all said and done, or rather, not said, you get what you give. The giver can’t give for the both of you forever, and will eventually give up. And the silent one will protect himself right out of a companion. Again, you get what you give.
Originally published in In the Scene Magazine. (No longer in circulation.)
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