I am no stranger to silence. Growing up in a house with two older brothers and a childhood I barely remember, silence was a torment as well as a friend.
Growing up, religion told me to leave space to ponder—quiet time to reflect without the noises of the world, of the devil. Yet on the other hand, we were warned of the evils of an empty mind. Silence could bring otherworldly thoughts or even otherworldly beings into our life. Non-biblical meditation was taboo. For a child tortured by abuse and looking for ways to calm the mind, I just figured I was crazy. I had to deal with the fact that when I closed my eyes, thoughts and visions of monsters would appear. There was a long period of time when I thought I was possessed, or at the least, on an extended acid trip.
I released the tortured silence into writing and drawings, for a while it helped. And then my mom found my journal…my art. I was scolded, grounded, and had supplies taken from me. The monsters returned so I tried to drown them with music.
My piano screamed at me. I woke from a horrid dream of a horrible deed. The room was dark. As my eyes adjusted, the shape of my upright piano came into a blurry focus. Out of the middle a lion’s head thrust through, roared, and then disappeared. I remember sitting in bed—knees to my chest crying—weeping—looking at that piano for hours not wanting to move in case it came back. I wanted to run, to leave, to escape these horrible thoughts that were now seeping into my world as hallucinations. The problem was religion said to pray your demons away (they’ve since changed this) and my mother had a distrust of doctors or therapy (that hasn’t changed). So I stayed silent.
There came a point in my life when I started to walk away from religion. A point when I’d tried everything to calm the destructive thoughts—to quell the sleepless nights where I battled between hallucinogenic dreams and nightmares and overwhelming thoughts of suicide. I looked for answers in silence. The private battle no one saw—the faux smile and happy demeanour when I was slowly shrivelling and losing the battle to live.
I found silence. I don’t remember the exact moment it changed. I remember feeling calm. I became a recluse briefly. Work and home: that was the routine. Light started to come back. I was such a public figure in religion it surprised me that there were no phone calls to see where I was or even how I was doing. In that time, I found meditation; true non-biblical meditation, which focused on balance—a silence with a purpose. It showed me a way to quell my inner monologue and understand my inner hallucinations. Religion would say I was tormented because I was going in the right direction. The demons worked extra hard to keep me from wining the fight. If that were true, and I continued on that path, I would’ve killed myself at 25.
The silence taught me balance, the ability to be in a room with my thoughts and be okay. To love myself, to know silence is a safe place—a needed place in my life. Meditation has allowed me to sit in a room with my monsters in a quiet balance. No longer are the days of silent torment when the quiet would scream at me. I am no stranger to silence—we are friends. Because of this, unfortunately I am no longer religious. I am spiritual. But more importantly—I am alive.
*image by Renate via Flicker