Alone in a conversation of silence

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The sun is up, its rays starting to slip through the blinds, gently lightening the room. The smell of fresh brewed coffee fills the air, mixing with the morning conversations. She is surrounded by friends, yet she feels alone.

True, there is a history of drama prior to trips. The packing, the cleaning, the caring for the kids creates tension within her. She tries to keep it inside, but more often than not – the tension breaks out, spewing anger everywhere.

The spewing started before the car was pulled out of the driveway. Tried though she did to be stronger than the frustration, the frustration won. And, as they joined others on the road, the Friday rush hour traffic fueled her frustration.

She visualized the cabin, knowing they would make it to their destination. She hoped the visualization would ease the tension within her, while simultaneously easing the tension in the car. Pictures of  the cabin, the creek, and the overlook  filled her mind. Inch by inch, she knew they were getting closer to their weekend escape with friends. Still, the tension gripped her like a vise.

Because the kids were staying with her Mom, their journey started by driving in the opposite direction of the cabin, making the long journey longer. Pulling out of her Mom’s driveway, she felt a sense of relief, as the bickering siblings were now happily staying with their Grammy. Perhaps, she thought, the bickering would end for her, too.

“So,” she said. “Which way do I go?”

Her husband was in charge of the directions, the directions she printed out.

“Well,” he began. ” I though we could go -”

She cut him off, “Wait. What do the directions say? Did you read the directions?”

Though the bickering siblings were no longer in the car, the bickering adults were front and center. The two hours of car time that remained was filled with misery, misread directions and plain stubbornness. She hit the road with her family at 2:15 in the afternoon, and she finally reached the destination just before 7:00 at night.

Their friends came out of the cabin smiling, clearly pleased to see her and her husband were safe.

“We were getting nervous!” One friend yelled. “Glad you guys could make it.”

She tried to ease the air of tension that escaped with the opening of the car door by saying, “That was a very long car ride. I think we divorced each other by the 2nd hour.”

The night was spent gathered around the table, laughing and eating chili. Later, the group moved down to the creek, where they built a campfire, drank beer and made s’mores, that is everyone in the group but her. She sat alone in the cabin, sad she was on the receiving end of her spouse’s cold shoulder.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is the saying, right? Why not take that stance with tension filled car rides. What happens in the car stays in the car. She wanted to move forward. She wanted to enjoy the time with her friends and her spouse.

Just before the stroke of midnight, the group returned to the cabin. Each couple retreated to their own bedroom, while she retreated to their bedroom alone. He stayed in the living room, choosing to sleep in the recliner.

When she woke, she noticed he was in bed with her. Yet, even as he lay next to her, she knew he was so far away.

“Are you still upset, angry, mad or anything along those lines?” She asks.

After a minute or two, “Yes, I guess I am.”

“Why?” She asked, trying to ignore the knot in her stomach.

The two spoke to each other; she questioned what the point was in holding on to anger, and he simply insisted he was not ready to let go.

Tears welled up in her eyes. She gets up from bed, walks to the bathroom and cries.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she tries to find answers. She prefers yelling, and she prefers being yelled at. If someone is yelling at you, she thinks to herself, they see you, but when someone is ignoring you and giving you the silent treatment, it is as if you do not exist; you are invisible. Throughout her life, all she wanted was to be seen. She wanted to exist. And she knows she exists, if only because her kids call out to her countless times a day.

She showers, hoping the water wipes her tears and the soap cleans off her sadness. Still, she feels sad, alone and invisible.

Walking into the living room, surrounded by her friends, she sits, sips her coffee, and lets the caffeine boost her spirits. She listens to the conversations filling the room. The other couples laughing about their pre-trip plans and lists. She feels herself become sad again, wanting desperately to talk about how her spouse is ignoring her for doing the exact same thing they describe as they laugh about it.

Her husband is in the kitchen preparing breakfast. She wonders if he hears the dialogue, if he is listening to their stories of cleaning house, packing and time constraints. If he is hearing how each couple grumbled with each other prior to getting on the road. She stays out of the conversation, though she can relate to the words they speak. Feeling alone in a room full of friends, she finds herself holding back more tears.

“Breakfast is ready.” Her spouse announces. And the group gathers in the kitchen to partake in the bounty prepared for them. She remains seated, hesitant to join the group in the kitchen. She did not want to go to the kitchen and stand so close to her spouse while he ignored her. The stark difference between the closeness of the other couples and the distance between the two of them was too much for her.

Once the gang were seated at the table, she got up and prepared her plate. She noticed her spouse walk into the kitchen. Without a word, he reached out and hugged her. Suddenly, she was seen. She existed, and the sun’s light fully filled the room.

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34 thoughts on “Alone in a conversation of silence

    • True stories are the easiest stories to write, because the information is raw and unedited. Of course, sharing the the intimacy and sincere emotion isn’t always easy. Thank you for your words, Georgette.

  1. I cannot tell you how many vacations and trips were started for my family exactly the way you described. It is a wonder I remember any of them with great fondness, but I do. Neither of us can stay angry for very long – and that is a really good thing.

    I pray the rest of the weekend will be marvelous – spent next to the one you should be next to, laughing, snuggling, and making up.

  2. jacquelincangro

    A very powerful post. We all want to know we’ve been seen and heard. I honestly think that if we each recognized that need in others there would be more harmony in the world.
    The video of the stream was lovely.

  3. I loved this, Lenore. Your words sucked me right in. I have to confess, at one point, I thought you had gotten inside my head and/or was eavesdropping on my life. You have managed to express the complicated emotions all of us can relate to at one point or another. That last line is very powerful.

    Your post came at a good time for me. I just happen to be reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “You Are Here” (an amazing book!) and the lesson I am learning is that basically we all want the same thing: to be paid attention to. To be present in the moment with the person we love. The greatest gift we can give to one another.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Lenore.

    • Thanks for staying with the story, Darla. The story is sincere – and I hope it doesn’t come back to bite me. Still, I had to write it. I wrote it for me, hoping (in part) it would resonate with others.
      I am glad you appreciated me sharing.

  4. This was so raw and real that I was hoping it was fiction. Very brave of you to open your hurts to the world. I’m sure every one of us can see ourselves in what you write. And how strange it is that these hurts seem amplified by what we imagine to be the harmony of others. (I wonder how many of the others were feeling or have felt just as inharmonious as you two did.)

    • Because I wrote in real-time, as it happened, I felt it gave me the voice I wanted. I knew (hoped) if I put it in the blogosphere someone would see it – even better, someone would read it. The reality is that even when we feel so very alone, we are not. My story is not new nor is it unique. Sharing it gave me the voice I needed at a time I needed it most. Plus, by writing, the crying was less – which kept the puffy eyes and headache at bay. (smile)

      And I agree with you that we imagine the harmony of others, when their reality may be far from harmonious. Still, the proverbial grass is always greener on the other side of the proverbial fence, right?

  5. Does everyone know that feeling of being with a group of people who are laughing and talking, but you feel utterly alone? I can relate to every word of this. I am usually the one giving the silent treatment, though.
    I’m glad you both were able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. I love going up to cabins in the North GA mountains (and visiting all the wonderful wineries up there).

    • I am glad I was able to enjoy the rest of the weekend, too, Amy. The cabin was incredible. I highly recommend it. Email me, if you want the contact information.
      I’d say I’m glad you could relate to every word I wrote, but that sounds odd. (smile) Sometimes I wish I could give the silent treatment – if only to give my throat a chance to heal from the yelling. *sigh*

  6. I tend to get stressed, packing for a weekend or overnight stay with family. And I don’t know why. Stressed to the point of frazzled at times. I’ve been doing better, but we have a ten-day vacation coming up soon. I hope that now knowing stress seems to be part of everyone’s preparations, that I can lighten up a bit, and let it go. Thanks for sharing ‘real life’ with us. I’m glad things were better for you that morning.

    • Thanks, Patti. I knew I was not alone with the tension that comes from pre-trip packing, etc. I felt vindicated when the group talked about their hustle and bustle prior to the trip. Still, as with everything, there is a balance to be found. I need to do a better job of finding that balance next time.

  7. I agree with Darla – you got into all of our heads, I think, because don’t we all just want to be seen? And it’s more devastating when we feel that our loved ones don’t see us. They are the ones who are supposed to see us even when no one else does!

    I remember one night about 7 years ago. Several months earlier, my boyfriend had decided that he wanted to break up. What made things worse was that he couldn’t seem to make it a clean break. He waffled. He moved away but we stayed in regular contact. He said he had made a mistake and even came to visit me. I was confused for months. One night he called just as I was pulling into the driveway after working all day. I answered but asked if we could talk the next day because I was exhausted. He said okay, but then proceeded to stay on the phone for nearly 30 minutes. Suddenly, it was as clear as day. “After 5 years, he still doesn’t see me.” were the exact words I thought, and that’s when I knew I’d never take him back.

    This was brave and lovely. I almost cheered when you finally got your hug!

    • Wow, Leonore … good for you seeing clearly (at that moment) what needed to be done. That was a brave and lovely moment in your life. (Lovely in the sense that you freed yourself from being ignored – ignoring yourself, as it were.)

      Though some may feel uncomfortable with me putting my story out there – I believed others would relate. Who hasn’t felt alone or invisible? And, during those moments it is painful. Writing about it gave me a voice I believed would be heard. (It also gave me an outlet that was better than binging on junk food.)

  8. You must submit this to a short story contest. No, hold on, I might have just the spot. I must find it….

    I’ll email to you. I think it’s Adventures of Wild Woman. It’s an online magazine.

    So raw and real (well, of course it was) but it did feel like fiction.

    Julie

    PS- Glad it all worked out!

    • Thank you, Julie. I greatly appreciate your comment (and suggestion). I found Wild Writing Women, a website out of San Francisco. Is that right?
      I am glad you liked it, and I am glad it worked out, too.

  9. Ah, Lenore…so many of us can relate to this story. The craziness of prepping for a weekend getaway can make me so stressed and uptight that I often wonder, “Is it even worth it?”
    This was so beautifully written and heartfelt. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel at times.

    • Thank you, Nancy. It feels odd to say I am ‘happy’ to hear others can relate, but it is nice knowing I am not the only one that stresses before trips.
      I sincerely appreciate your kind words.

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