The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

Nine months have passed since the last time my friend and I have met over coffee. We caught up, shared stories, setbacks and progress. Most of all we talked about mindfulness. We were both trying to get into the groove — me, for the first time, she, as an experienced practitioner.

“Last we spoke about mindfulness,” my friend said, “I remember you telling me it brought a lot of overwhelming emotions up. Now that you’re starting to practice more, does it still happen?”

In those brief moments, memories of me struggling to sit quietly reappeared. My fear of mindfulness stems from my fear of prayer. In my most troubling moments growing up, I used to sit in an empty church and pray. Most of the time I didn’t know what to say. Most of the time I just cried. And in the silence of an empty church, sitting in an empty pew, I unfortunately did not find reprieve. Voices, instead, began to emerge — loud, reverberating voices telling me, among other things, that not only was I not good enough, but that I wasn’t good enough to exist. For more than half of my life, suicide invaded every inch of my body and my being, so much so, that it became rampant in my spirit too. I wanted the voices to stop, so I avoided solitude. I avoided silence. I avoided prayer.

But eight years have passed since I was first diagnosed. Twelve months have passed since I was hospitalized. And only six months ago I became pregnant. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my friend, since I’ve contemplated silence. In that span of time, something else happened: it’s been a while since I’ve contemplated suicide.

The voices are gone for now. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy, therapy, the meds, or all of the above, but when you’ve been spending so much of your time struggling to live hour by hour, day by day — and then realize those invasive thoughts have left you — well, it frees you up to focus on other things. Like your breath. I find it hard to admit, but solitude has become less intimidating. The voices aren’t voices anymore. They are just thoughts floating around like clouds in the sky. No longer do they insist on sticking around, waiting for your demise. No longer are you afraid that the voices will win someday. For some reason, those days are gone. And in the past twenty-four hours since I’ve spoken with my friend about mindfulness, I’ve realized one thing: maybe I’m in recovery.

I am undoubtedly scared by this realization. To me, recovery was some far off mysterious place. I thought I would never achieve anything remotely close to what I pictured as recovery. Now that it’s happened, however, it feels just like a mundane reality. In fact, I barely even notice how much my life has changed. What’s going on with this picture? I think I’ve taken for granted how much endurance, grit and determination I went through in order to get to this place. Now that I have this sudden realization — that what was once a harrowing experience is now over — I can no longer live a complacent life.

I could still fall “face down in the arena,” as Brene Brown puts it. In most likelihood, I will relapse. The voices may come back. All of this is possible and the thought of it is scary. But what is also possible is for me to take advantage of this reprieve, to relish in the sound of silence, to pursue a meaningful life instead of waiting around for one to pop up in front of me. “What am I so afraid of?” my therapist asks me. To quote Joseph Campbell, “The big question is whether you are going to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

I can’t deny that I’ve been living life at arm’s length but I’ve also realized I cannot live back up in the rafters, fearing the arena. It’s time I’d start engaging in all of life’s messy and beautiful glory — relapse possibilities and all — with a resounding yes.

6 Comment(s)
  • Ellen Posted September 3, 2015 11:23 am

    Love this and you!
    Hanz and Franz

  • Lin Posted September 3, 2015 12:07 pm

    Hugs and kisses Amanda. Love you!

  • Amanda Posted September 3, 2015 3:11 pm

    Sharing in your joy and peace. <3

  • Rosalind Posted September 3, 2015 4:54 pm

    Love reading your posts Amanda- pleased you are in such a beautiful space.. V interesting thought on ‘why’ the silence and quiet was so difficult. Makes complete sense.. Take care.. With love- Ros

  • Kelsey Posted September 4, 2015 5:01 pm

    Your posts always mean a lot to me, but this one really got to me. I’ve teared up on and off for the past hour thinking about it. You are so beautiful inside and out, and have such a talent with words. I am in awe of your strength and resilience. I like knowing that you are seeing yourself in a different light: one that is so much more genuine and reflective of real life. And thank you for sharing this and giving me hope that things can get better sometimes.

  • Shauna Posted September 5, 2015 5:47 pm

    Your openness about prayer and not receiving answers really touched me… I too used to pray and wonder – and I heard the same voices… never should have been born… never should have been conceived… never good enough… useless… unworthy… even typing them stirs up things… I found out I have BPD about 19 months ago while in my 40’s… looking back over my life it makes sense… I didn’t have the outbursts externally – instead I turned them internally… the quiet BPD

    I was raised in church and I continued to go to church… then about 7 years ago I was too sick to go – I would recuperate on the weekends so I could work during the week… in Jan 2014 I had my mental break… it lead to many admissions to either the hospital or to a mental 2 week recovery place…
    During one hospital admission an old church friend saw me and we connected… she invited me to attend a program at the church which overtime has really helped restore me emotionally, physically and spiritually… I’m not here to preach about it… I’m just here to say – God is still out there… Him not stopping any abuse doesn’t mean He wasn’t there – remember, He has given all men free will – including our abusers and us… He doesn’t like it anymore than we do… but when we are ready – he is there to pick up the pieces and help us put our lives back together…

    Is my life perfect? Oh no… Am I cured of BPD? No… but I have more peace inside… I have less of a daily struggle than I did before… I’m still taking mental health classes and working on programming my thinking… but I am alive still – and I’m alive in many other ways… when I started attending the church program I was literally 10 days from a suicide attempt – I was emotionally and spiritually dead… I could barely make myself walk into the place… many times I sat in the car trying to get the courage up to…
    Will I relapse? I likely will… In the 15 months since I started attending I’ve had 3 admissions to the recovery place… med changes… but I’ve found a community of support which I didn’t have… and after this last admission – I’m doing SO much better… God and I have connected on a deeper level – I’ve found that peace I was talking about… an eternal moment of peace – of being still and knowing that God is there… and I’m ADHD… so I hate being still and hate peace… yet I love remembering and going back to that moment…

    I usually get a med change, wait 3 months and get re-admitted… it’s been over 4 months so a record for me… each day I struggle – some days more than others… I remind myself though – that God said to only worry about each day – tomorrow has enough worries of it’s own… I just have to get through this one day… ask Him for what I need today…

    Sorry for rambling on… part of my ADHD I guess 🙂

    It’s just like when you figure out a way to “win the lottery” you want to share it…

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