PHOTO BY NENETUS/FOTOLIA
In the last days of my marriage, before I knew that it was not salvageable, I would write. Instead of lying awake in bed, or crying, or raging, I would go downstairs in the middle of the night and just write. Stream-of-consciousness writing, not full sentences, no punctuation, no caps, just raw emotion. My fingers vomited a steady stream of pain, fear, disappointment, disgust, shame, and sadness. It was no wonder why I always wrote at night: like the moon, the words on my screen would never see the light of day. Those words were never meant to be uttered from my lips. No therapist would ever hear them. My then-husband certainly never would either. Even though my marriage was damaged beyond repair, giving voice to my writing would do no one any good. Yet getting the words out was healing and necessary, and to this day, those words remain private. Many lessons were learned from those late-night writing-therapy sessions with my computer, but the one that I employ at some point every day is to say nothing.
I talk for a living. I talk a lot. But I have to remember sometimes it’s better to shut up. It’s hard, and often uncomfortable. Awkward silence is not a place anyone wants to find themselves in. But in that moment of silence, you get that second to think, “Do I really want to voice this next thought?” When I am interviewing someone on the radio, it’s usually in that awkward space that my interview subject reveals a golden piece of information. I have come to embrace the silence. (I’m not perfect at it, but I’m trying!)
Saying nothing has been more beneficial in my personal life. Had my ex-husband heard the things I wrote in my late-night computer-therapy sessions, we would have a much more strained relationship today. I wrote awful, hurtful, hateful things. I don’t regret writing them, but I would have regretted speaking them.
I’m still working on saying nothing when my 13-year-old unloads all the junior high drama on me. Any disparaging comment I make about her friends I can’t “un-say” and she can’t “un-hear.” So when it comes to “embracing the pause,” the struggle is real.
This week, I wish you moments of silence when you can choose what to say or opt to say nothing.