Creativity for the Rest of Us

The Great Silence

The Great Silence

 

She’s 4, almost 5, years old. Dirty face and uncombed hair, she sits in the shadows – arms cradling knees held tightly to her chest. She doesn’t make much eye contact.

She was slow to communicate. We got acquainted by drawing together. She likes to draw with colors and play outside. Robin Hood is her favorite because he lives in a forest, shoots a bow and arrows, and fights mean people. She’d like to live in a forest.

Our relationship developed slowly. She had been locked inside, forgotten for over fifty years. Told from an early age she was too much – too loud, too messy, too boyish, too excited, too rough – she went into hiding.

It took some time for her to begin to trust me and open up.

Eventually we arrived at a conversation about the recent radiation treatment. She called it a ray gun and drew pictures of it shooting violent red beams into our neck.

She wanted to know why I let them hurt us like that. I explained about cancer and doctors and treatment. And fear – that I was afraid and didn’t want to die. I didn’t know what else to do so I did what the people in charge said would help me.

Here’s an excerpt from one of our conversations (her responses in italic):

How did you feel having cancer in you?

I didn’t like it. It was mean and red and angry.

Do you know what it was angry about?

Your mean words. The way you talk to yourself.

Oh. Uh oh.

Yeah

Is it gone now?

Yes. We don’t want it to come back. You have to be nice to yourself so it doesn’t come back. Don’t talk so much. Use better words. We want more light inside. Love us more. Be quiet.

What if I get angry?

That’s OK. Don’t swallow it. When you swallow your words it makes us sick.

Out of the mouths of babes.

I’ve been swallowing my words and feelings for most of my life. The early messages were clear and direct: be quiet, be nice, anger is bad, don’t cry, don’t stand out or get too big for your britches, and don’t let anyone know how you really feel. Above all, be a good girl.

For the majority of my life in order to win the acceptance and approval of other people – to please, to fit in, to be loved – I swallowed my words and hid my true nature. Eventually it made me sick.

Tending the depths of my own well restored me to myself and to health. I stopped dumping the poison of mean spirited self-assessment and criticism into the water. I exhumed the trash of negative self-talk and banished the inner bully.

I began to purify the water with compassionate self-care – nurturing it with kindness and tenderness, loving my imperfections. I curled up in the comfy lap of Mother Nature and let myself be healed in her presence.

There was a great silence when the cacophony of self-abuse stopped and the waters became clear.

In it I found a forgotten voice – the voice of heart, truth, and love. The voice of kindness, beauty, and joy. This is the voice that has restored me to my true nature, brought me back to health, and guides my actions. I’ll live with that.

Annie Dillard says it beautifully: You were made and set forth here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.

Let’s give voice to that, shall we?

 

Nurture your inner well in my new program – Women at the Well – a restorative retreat for the New Year. 2 seats left!

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2 Responses to “The Great Silence”

  1. Deidre says:

    Mary — thank you for this wisdom as you call us all to give voice to our deepest truth. With gratitude and love.

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The Mystical Wells of Ireland 2017 COME TO THE WELL