(For the next two months, I’m not talking in order to devote my time to exploring the rhetorical uses of listening and silence. You can check out the project details on my other blog.)
Today’s observations, in no particular order:
1. I have significant Baggage regarding silence and relationships. Which, actually, I knew – it’s just that I’ve been able until now to blissfully not-confront it.
2. Not talking, when you have talked since the age of 11 months, is hard.
3. It would be less hard if I had been given any alternative to talking in that time. Including just not talking.
4. It’s even difficult not to talk when you are out in public ostensibly minding your own business. I didn’t realize how many times a day I’m called on to say things like “excuse me” until I was no longer saying them. (Also, I get the distinct impression that as a woman-presenting person, I’m expected to say things like “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” more often in public. Ha.)
5. This little notebook I got in the swag bag at a mock trial competition in 2007 and have been hauling around ever since just got really, really useful.
6. Husband is about to learn some useful ASL.
Points 1-3 are especially tough, because they’re stirring up a bunch of stuff I’m now trying to process without my “talking” splines loaded. The SparkNotes version is that, as a kid, I was rarely allowed to not talk, since silence was automatically interpreted as “the silent treatment” or “attitude.” More than once during my childhood, I got punished for “having an attitude” when really I was just being quiet.
(This is the ultimate case of entrapment, by the way. Nothing creates an “attitude” in your kid faster than breaking into their happy, contemplative silence with an accusatory “and you can drop the attitude, young lady.” Many times I did not have any kind of “attitude” before those words were said, and one hell of an “attitude” after those words were said. For which I then got punished, because of course I couldn’t prove I hadn’t always already had that “attitude.”)
So I still have this really intense anxiety about not talking in relationships. Like, if I’m not running my mouth every few seconds, whoever I’m hanging out with will decide I hate them and am giving them the “silent treatment” and will leave me. Only, I’m trying not to talk for two months, and my husband has already pointed out that if I talk at home but not elsewhere, I’m rather defeating the purpose of not talking at all.