I used to speak.
When did the silence grow? Around me—silence. It is ironic because it seems all I do is encourage others to speak out, up, to…
I want you to speak out…about what matters to you. I want you to speak up…for your needs, for the needs of others. I want you to speak to…me, a friend, a therapist. Where are we without speaking, after all?
I’ll tell you where I think we are when we don’t speak…at least, I’ll give you my interpretation. I think when we don’t speak we are in a place of stigma. We are in a place of muted voices or in a place of silence. We are in a place where hope flickers instead of thrives and my, oh my, would I rather us have hope that thrives.
I realized this during a word seek. It seems the irony does not end. I realized as I sat—in a public place, no less—searching for the word “murmur,” then the word “outcry” (you really can’t make this shit up!), that I was in a place of silence. I was in a place of utter silence, in a place that does not speak.
But it wasn’t the silence of the atmosphere itself that drew my attention. It wasn’t simply that no one was around, that the space was built for the hushing of others, that some kind of consistent glaring at people around me ensured my silent scope—none of that was what drew my attention. No, when I had this revelation, this moment where I thought to myself, “I used to speak,” I was in a space that encourages speaking out, up, to…yet I was not speaking. What drew my attention was that the space that does not speak was and is a space built from a place inside myself that, well…does not speak.
In the past, I’ve spoken. I’ve said:
“If you kill yourself, a bunch of weird stuff isn’t going to happen to you…You’ve got to stick around…I love you.”
“If you do not live, there will be something that matters missing from the world.”
“You may look like nothing more than a broken tree branch…But…you are awesomely weird…And you are going to rise from those ashes.”
“Just live and breathe and seek healing the best you can.”
“People…Just love them. Just love them so hard it feels like it can wash away any wounds, any scars, any boo-boos.”
“You’re still cool. And I love you…And your rockin’ flare jeans. And your smile when you’re talking to people that make you happy.”
“Every breath you take is a victory. Every mile you travel in this life is a victory. You are a victory.”
When did I stopped speaking? That’s what I asked myself as I dropped my pen that I click too much when I’m anxious. That’s what I asked myself as I put the word seek to the side. That’s what I asked myself when I stopped everything I was doing to come here, to speak to you instead. To speak again.
Because, friends, we can’t let the silence grow. We must continue to speak out, up, and to. We must continue to encourage others to speak out, up, and to. What matters to you matters to someone else. You may not believe me, but I promise you—it does. Someone, somewhere needs to hear you. A place of silence—if we let that silence grow from an internal space to an external one—is a place where the voices around us, as well as our own important voice, is muted…or entirely absent.
Oh, don’t let your voice be entirely absent, friend. If you can, don’t stay in a place where hope only flickers. We need each other. I need you. I need to speak again. So, here I am. And I need you to speak with me. Live to speak and speak to live.