If you haven’t already done so, click here to read the first part. It might be related to this post. Or not. Up to you to decide.
My experience with silence was not planned.
I was in London, working my ass off pretending to study, trying to write a research no one believed in on a topic I don’t really care about.
Yes, I’m grateful for the opportunities I was given on multiple occasions.
Yes, I’m thankful for my sponsors for believing in me regardless of my lack of faith in myself.
Anyways, so back to London. I was locked in my apartment, surrounded by my the voices/noises in my head and my oud. The latter was sitting there collecting dust and staring at me. I was under a lot of stress – my wife and baby girl are in country A, I was in country B, my business is in country C and my business partner is in country D.
My brain and heart were in 4 different countries.
I need to pass to continue working. Otherwise, I’ll have to repay everything they spent on me since 2008. I don’t have that kind of money. Assuming the emotional and psychological toll of failure doesn’t weigh me down (I said assuming), then the financial burden is enough to destroy whatever hope I keep picking up from the shattered failures of my life.
My father-in-law is sick. Very sick. My wife and daughter are with him. It was my decision that they stay with him. My wife spent 6 years studying medicine in a foreign country away from her family. Her parents aren’t growing any younger.
So it was my decision that she stays with her family. “I can be replaced. Your father and mother aren’t as dispensible as me.”
I keep regretting this decision almost every day, but I don’t say anything. I love my wife. I love my baby girl. But … there’s this annoying, albeit calm, voice in my head that says “it’s the right decision”. Please remember this voice.
My business was steadily going down the drain.
Have you tried managing a business from abroad? It’s not impossible.
But have you tried managing a business in a purely bureaucratic country from abroad? It’s fucking challenging, especially when you can’t access basic information and laws are written in crayon.
My business partner is in Belgium. She has never opened shop outside of Europe. She innocently believes that setting up a shop in my country is as simple and direct as Belgium. She speaks French and Dutch. I speak Arabic and English. We manage to communicate via Google translate.
I’ve placed a huge bet on this project out of my own pocket. Do I think it will all pay off in the end? I hope so. It needs to. I need the money. Am I scared? You bet your ass I am.
So, where does silence fit in the above unrelated vignette?
Silence came about after realizing I haven’t spoken to anyone for a few weeks. By that, I mean calls, voice notes, and even simple texts. I was literally alone with my thoughts.
Was it peaceful? Fuck no. Not at first.
Remember the annoying, yet calm voice I mentioned above? It started to contribute more and more to the chaotic and toxic environment inside my head.
It was not afraid to share its opinion because it didn’t have to explain it to anyone but me.
I can understand my point of view. You might not be able to.
I then have to find the correct expressions, analogies, examples, and the body language to explain what I mean.
I have to explain that “I understand what you’re saying, but to me …”
That requires energy. A lot of energy.
So the first thing I noticed with silence is internal calmness. Nothing changed – thoughts clash and collide against one another. But knowing I need not explain myself was empowering.
When I returned home, I kept my words to a minimum.
The silence taught me the importance of clarifying what I mean to myself before opening my mouth.
Family yelled, shouted and mocked me for “being a little baby and not answering”. They still got nothing out me. People at work started labeling me as “Mr. Crazy”, “Mr. Moody”.
“Are you sad?” is the most common question, followed by the condescending “are you on your period? What’s wrong this time baby?”.
Still, an automatic gentle smile is my response. To me, those questions carry no value or meaning.
Silence is what changed my mind about deleting the blog. Silence is keeping me sane.
Silence is also improving my character. I’m the kind of person that will offer his help without any return. I will put 110% effort into trying to satisfy you. I will take on any obstacles you’re facing and break the hurdles in your way.
I stopped that. I do not offer help. I do not jump to offering my service just because I saw how sad and disappointed you are. I’m sorry, folks, but I will not offer anything for now. If I’m directly asked, then I’ll need time to think about it.
I answer when I’m asked. I might skip a few questions with a shrug or a generic response. Example:
Person A: Are you done with your Master’s degree yet?
Person A: Haha. What do you mean hopefully? Did you get your results?
Me: Not yet.
Person A: Is something wrong?
Me: (No response)
Person A: Are you Ok?
Me: (I nod my head with a smile).
Person A: Are you sure everything is OK?
And so on.
Another beautiful thing (for me and in my opinion) that came about with silence is focus. In today’s world, distractions are abundant and infinite. An unstable person like myself can find himself lost in a world of opinions-are-facts and the truth varies depending on the camera angle.
A world where nothing is enough and there’s always something to complain about.
A world where information is manipulated either purposefully or without awareness.
I tried my best to explain my experience with silence, but I most likely took a turn somewhere and began ranting.
That’s OK, though. You know why? Because this is my blog, the digital voice transcription of what’s in my head.
Categories: The Journal