No Response is a Response

November 23, 2018

I remember learning what I could and couldn’t talk about early in one of my relationships. If I brought up past experiences, talked about the harder aspects of life, or shared something he didn’t want to hear… he wouldn’t say anything. Not one single word.

I remember learning what truths were and were not acceptable in one of my close friendships last year. When I would talk around some horrible things that had happened in an attempt to heal, this friend wouldn’t say anything. Not one single word.

They were so uncomfortable, disapproving, or unhappy with what I was talking about that they didn’t even have the balls to change the subject.

No response *is* a response.

A clear, powerful, telling response.
The most hurtful and damaging kind of response.

No response can even be a form of gas-lighting at times… because it’s crazy-making. It lacks any acknowledgment of you or your experience. It’s like you don’t even exist, and any words you may have spoken never even registered.

I remember many of those moments with my ex-boyfriend. Moments where I shared my truth with the person who supposedly loved and supported me, yet the silence was so deadening I wondered if I’d said anything at all.

He didn’t say anything.
Not one single word.

No response is a response, friends.
A clear, powerful, telling response.
The most hurtful and damaging kind of response.

We are seeing this all over our world in ways big and small and we need to do better… at home, at work, in our relationships, and out in the world. At the very least, we need to acknowledge what is being shared and said. What’s happening all around us. We need to be willing to get uncomfortable and talk about what’s hard and what hurts. It’s the only way we can heal individually and collectively.

Trauma, grief, and everything in between needs space to be felt, heard, witnessed, and held.

Pay attention. Notice those small tells in conversation that there is more to the story than you may want to hear. Ask questions… even if you’re uncomfortable or uninterested. Actually listen to the words coming out of someone else’s mouth, especially when it’s hard. Say something—anything—even if you get it wrong. Don’t sit there in silence and hope it goes away. Don’t pretend it’s not happening.

We can all do better around the things that matter.
Around the things that are hard and that hurt.

Myself included.

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