Monday, June 18, 2012

Silence and Light

It is that too-transient time of day, when the clouds are lavender and the horizon blushes. Standing in the kitchen, adjusting the temperature of the oven as a quiche bakes, I catch my breath when I turn and see the light. The sun has poured itself in through the front windows, through the living room where the rabbits are sleeping, and through the kitchen, to wash up against the closed bedroom door. Its white paint glows. It is gold, honey, amber, then briefly pumpkin. And then it is gone.

Sunset comes later and later, and I write less and less. When summer comes, I shrink from the computer, from my notebooks. The grass is green in the park, the tomatoes are sprouting in the garden, and I feel as wordless as a plant. I just want to soak up the sun and store it away under my skin, turn it into food for a future winter.

Could it be my reluctance to write stems from a fear of contemplating meanings and committing myself to a position? a fear of exposure? (Writing is so hard right now. I started this post at sunset two weeks ago, got too uncomfortable, and left it languishing until today.)

A few weeks ago, I spent seven days in the Adirondacks at an Intervarsity camp. Being there without O. for a week, I found myself to be a person I'd forgotten: still needing my sleep and my solitude, but steady in those needs, not oscillating, and willing and able to meet new people, form friendships, be useful, serve, pray, lead. Confident, as I'd forgotten how to be. As I'd forgotten I used to be.

(Ironic that lately I've been pondering the necessity, indeed the virtue, of remembering. And here I had forgotten something so fundamental (though so complex) as who I am, how it feels to be me.)

At camp I also realized that somehow, sometime in the past 11 months, I swore off exposing myself to O. in so many of the ways that count. I got hurt doing things, and then I promised myself I wouldn't get hurt that way again. What that meant was that I stopped singing when I thought O. was listening; I stopped telling him what I think Bible passages mean; I stopped praying out loud with him. Deep down, I took a vow of silence. I will not speak, I said. I said, I refuse to be exposed.

The Highly Sensitive Person In Love, my most helpful relationship guide, catalogs the fears that can create fear of intimacy. Fear of exposure and rejection, fear of angry attacks, fear of abandonment, fear of losing control, fear of your destructive impulses, fear of engulfment, fear of commitment... The fear of exposure is by far my greatest fear in any relationship. It's always easier for me to be the listening ear and the comforting shoulder, lovingly caring for the exposure of someone else's pain and weakness, than for me to be the crying eye and the naked heart. I would rather listen than speak, I would rather be silent than be true.

 So I have been silent.

But "when I kept silent, my bones wasted away." And now, finally understanding what I have been doing, I am trying to remember, and I am trying to speak.

Starting here.
Writing, I break my silence.
Speaking, I expose myself.
Here I am. I am here.

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