When I slow down, when I let the silence linger, turn off the TV and the chatter in my brain, when I stop streaming music or reading an endless flow of nonsensical, sometimes manipulative updates, occasionally deceptive posts and scams that plague Facebook, the pain corners me. Has its way with me. Forces me to experience the full power of my raw, excruciating emotions.
I am very good at running. When it comes to plastering on a smile and making it look like everything is wonderful, Facebook has nothing on me. I am very good at telling myself lies so I don’t have to face reality. I’m a master at running my brain around in circles, at circumnavigating the truth without touching it. I’m very good at avoiding the pain and sidestepping the regret. The disappointment. The shame. I’m good at convincing myself my life is worth living. Until the silence stops me in my tracks and rubs my face in the emptiness of my existence.
In the darkness and silence, everything I’ve dreaded and deftly avoided captures me. Surrounds me. Body slams me into a wall and forces me to feel the agony and desolation I’ve strategically evaded.
Quiet is the enemy. For silence is no fool.
Silence knows how to move in when distractions are at a lull. It knows how to take advantage of the moment, sneaking up on me, overcoming all defenses. And it uses its advantage to shine the truth like a laser beam that slices without mercy, taking aim through the smoke, shooting deadly arrows straight into the foundation of my fabricated reality. It drives those arrows home where they deeply penetrate, massacring the most vulnerable places in my psyche.
The subconscious speaks in the quiet. It speaks in a voice that can’t be drowned out. Determined to be heard at last, it screams out, reverberating far into the cavernous regions of the soul.
When surrounded by the laughter of coworkers, the busyness of work and the white noise of life, nothing profound can penetrate those unfathomable regions of my being. But when all the noise that masked the emptiness suddenly goes deadly still, the thoughts and feelings that were hidden and buried are jolted awake by that scream and then bubble to the surface where they slap me around. Punch me in the gut until I can no longer stand. They perforate my heart and pummel my weary mind.
There are no shadows to hide behind in the stillness. No walls can protect. No defenses can deflect the blows. Clarity can be a curse. Comprehension a lightning bolt that strikes hard and fast, stopping and felling me in my tracks. Taking me down with one tremendous flash.
Thankfully, the beating doesn’t last. The emergency protocol is initiated. Well-oiled defense mechanisms operating on auxiliary power spring into action, numbing and plugging holes. Turning up the white noise. The blows become softer. Clamor is restored. Eventually, I’m able to get up and move on as if nothing terrible happened. The pain is quickly returned to the deep grave from which it was aroused, once more carefully buried in the chasm where it can be contained without my heart sustaining further damage.
I do not mark the grave with a tombstone. No headstone is placed above ground to remind me of what rests beneath the layers of my soul. Remembering is not the goal. The goal is to forget.
I pick up the pace, running swiftly from the scene in spite of residual soreness, determined to distance myself from the truth Imprisoned within me. I turn on some music. Check Facebook as if my life depended on it. Play a few mind-numbing computer games. Stay busy. Running faster and faster now. Leaving the deafening silence in my dust.
My mind circles are humming once more. I repeat a mantra as I gain speed.
Don’t slow down. Keep moving. Don’t look back. Don’t slow down…