The best thing about wilfully, purposely hermitting in my Little Crooked House has been the effect it’s had on my brain and my stress level. Slowly and steadily, the constant thrum of activity in there has slowed down. There’s not so much chatter. There have been moments that might qualify as silence. As i’ve tuned out local people and concerns i’m better able to relax and slow down. I sleep and my level of chronic pain has decreased. I can focus on simple, daily tasks and keep to a reasonable schedule. I’m engaged with my husband and children. Connecting with them feels more natural and less forced. I’m less inclined to watch television and more apt to listen to music. I feel a bit safe. I feel better in my body and brain. I like how i look more than i have in years, and i move about inside my own skin more fluidly. It feels as if i’m actually sailing this ship.

It’s a good opportunity to examine my thoughts and behaviours to assess how well they are or aren’t working. I judge them based on what i know about myself, what i want my life to be, and whether or not what i’m thinking and doing is helping me get there, based on results. It starts with noticing something’s causing unhappiness or other negative fallout. For instance, going to large social gatherings. I wasn’t handling those situations well. Through examining why, i realised both what i thought and how i acted needed extensive work. So… That whole thing requires an overhaul and is currently in the shop.

My advanced ninja skills started with stepping away from people. If i couldn’t communicate the way i wanted to, then i wasn’t going to communicate at all. Just stop. Go back to the beginning and start fresh. Gather more information, relearn or unlearn or whatever works. I’ve known for some time now i’m not the super-extrovert i’d thought/been told i was. I wasn’t just alone a lot when i was growing up in order to escape. I was alone a lot because i liked being alone. And i still do, very much. I crave it, seek it, and am certain i need it – almost as much as food, water, breath, sleep. I’m not sure where i fall on the spectrum now, but i’m far more introverted than i knew. I’ve learned something else about myself through spending more time alone, that is, i enjoy being quiet. Not saying anything at all. I feel calm and relaxed when i’m alone and not talking. It’s when my brain is quietest, too.

I decided to try taking a break from talking through my problems. I don’t currently have a “person” outside of my husband to process things with, so it’s been just him. I have my doctor and my therapist if i need them, but i’ve stopped using my husband as an outlet. Let me explain my reasoning behind this decision, because on the surface it may not sound like a great idea.

Once i decided to disclose my history, the floodgates were opened. I’ve talked non-stop for years now. I started out talking about everything that happened, then moved on to how i felt about what had happened. After that i had to talk about everything. I mean, i couldn’t let anything go. I needed to address everything that triggered memories of my past. If i was angry, i had to talk about it. If i was scared, i had to talk about it. I had to let all the voices in my head out.

For years i talked so much it was a bit like emesis vocalis. While purging years of pent up emotions and traumatic events, somewhere along the way i became a bit of a nag. It started with big important stuff, but it degraded to pointless bitching about all the things, all the time. It brought me down, coloured my outlook, and dampened my mood. It never took much to bring that slowly simmering frustration to a full boil. And i pulled him down with me, to the point where any legitimate issues i may have had with him or the marriage, were lost in a roiling grey sea of riotous scribblings covering every wall of our married life together. I’d worn him out as i’d done myself.

So i started letting go of small things. Little irritations i knew didn’t matter. I clamped my mouth shut and ordered myself not to speak about it. It led me to letting go of other things i’d believed so much more important than they actually were. He was less stressed, not as grumpy and tired, and began paying more attention to me. When an issue seriously required our attention as a couple, he heard me. We’ve been dealing with things as a team. I like myself better, and he does, too. He’s said so.

I wondered to myself if anything else might be improved by talking less, and the answer is YES. I’d needed to break out of the prison my childhood had built around me by being heard. I needed to figure out who i am by talking about life, the universe, and everything. I needed to figure out what >>i<< thought about things rather than what i was told to think about things. That involved having opinions. And oh, i had opinions. Lots of ’em. I had opinions all over the place and everyone knew. I agonised and obsessed over them. When someone i liked had a different opinion, it was terrifying, resulting in more talking. Having a different opinion than someone i liked/respected triggered behaviours around safety and self-preservation. I wanted them to like/respect me in return, and i’d been taught we had to agree in order for that to happen.

I tried to handle differences of opinion in a variety of ways. I’d sometimes act very gracious, but it was utterly disingenuous; i knew it before the words came out of my face. Other times i’d counter them with what i imagined was a stunningly intellectual argument. In that instance in particular i know i alienated people and perhaps even belittled them, for which i’m now ashamed. Then there was the time i tried being a troll for a minute. I used to watch trolls with a glittering eye, wanting desperately to be like them. I know, i know – they’re assholes. I sort of knew that even back then, but i was attracted to their bravado. They appeared to give absolutely zero fucks what other people thought about them. I failed at trolling miserably though, because i’m not actually an asshole, and if that’s what it costs to be one, i’ll just stay off the porch and let the big dogs bark.

Here again, i just stopped talking. I have social media, and people i interact with there certainly know how i feel about a wide range of issues, but i see that as me. Like, if the internet was a gathering of actual people, my page is me. I want to be me in a group of people. What i don’t want is to plaster myself all over your page. You’re not me. You’ve been born to the mother you were born to, and raised the way you were raised. You’ve made choices and you are who you are. If i want acknowledgement and respect for that, mustn’t i also give it to you?

Well absolutely i must.

So i do, and once again it’s led to more silence. Not a barely-restrained silence, pregnant with words left unspoken. It’s an easy quiet like a mid-spring morning, full of promise. It’s good and simple and you can just BE, in it.

I’m a retired Ninja now. I don’t spy on people, i don’t gather information on them, i don’t need to distract anyone from what’s really going on, and i refuse to be involved in the assassination of another human, in any way. I no longer hide within your ranks, i don’t work for anyone, nor am i for hire. The war ended a long time ago. I’ve accepted that and devote myself, as is the way of many former Ninjas, to tending my own garden and fixing broken pottery using gold.

END PIECE

IMAGE: DDP

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