Peace and Quiet

When I started this website and blog, I vowed to remain open to where it might lead me, but always with one goal in mind: connecting with others who share in similar challenges and celebrations.  

I set this goal with the understanding for myself that it may require vulnerability and it may require me to show parts of myself not seen by some.  While this is all new territory for me, I stick by my belief that the best things in life are oftentimes born from those that make us most uncomfortable.  

In keeping with this goal, I have decided to share this next piece which I wrote near the end of 2015 as I was working through several years of crippling anxiety.  This topic, and therefore this piece, is close to my heart.   

May those of you reading who are struggling with the same find hope in not being alone.

***

I glance up at the leaves dancing gracefully in the wind as though they have written a song only they can hear.  The warm golden colors appear as if sprinkled with glitter as their movements reflect one another against the deep blue sky.  Perfect.  Harmony.  Peace. 

I take a deep breath of the cool air and close my eyes to dream of what it would feel like as a golden leaf dancing in the breeze.  The wind slowly glides its fingers through my hair and wraps its arms around me, gently lifting me upwards.  I am weightless, powerless, fearless.  I sway back and forth to the beautiful melody of music only I can hear.  For a moment, there is no feeling other than the wind carrying me wherever it chooses.  No pain, sadness, or fear.  Only happiness.  Freedom.  Peace.   

***

The idea of peace has invaded my thoughts now more than ever before and I am forced to contemplate its meaning.  All too often, I have yearned for moments of quiet and the perceived peace that comes along with it.  

Peace and Quiet.  Two words holding so much power for us that we package them together as a married pair belonging with one another.

I wonder though: If I have quiet, will I have peace? If I have peace, will I have quiet?

The word quiet alone can often hold several meanings for people in different circumstances.  Take for instance the person who is newly deaf from a tragic accident, or the mother who has lost her child and grieves for the sounds of laughter and pitter patter, or the crumbling marriage where both parties are too proud to speak.  In all, there is quiet, yet no peace. 

To me, peace is a state of no conflict, a place of harmony where turmoil does not exist. 

Certainly, quiet has the ability to bring external peace or even to invoke a sense of calm, but to many, the internal battle is always raging – ready to march in and invade any chances of reconciliation.

***

The wind recedes and I rest, waiting for the moment when I will dance again.  Opening my eyes, I am quickly reminded of my mortality.  All feelings return and I am keenly aware of the air entering my lungs slowly, the prickly edges of grass peeking up between my toes, the snug feeling around my waist from pants that once hung.  Pain, sadness, and fear invade my body like a demon and I succumb to their overwhelming power.

Crossing my legs, I lean back on my elbows offering myself to the sky and call out to the wind COME BACK, PLEASE COME BACK!  No response.  I try again.  COME BACK, PLEASE COME BACK!  No response.  My pleas become more desperate as I now have the feeling of tears welling in my eyes.  PLEASE, WIND, COME BACK TO ME!   

The only thing around to hear my cries are the leaves which now appear to be laughing at me as though they hold the wind’s secrets.  Even in their mockery they are beautiful. 

Tears stream down my face and pulling my knees to my chest, I begin to sob.  Tears, pain, and heartache blanket my whole body and suddenly there is nothing but noise - overwhelming, heart-pounding, thumping noise.  I cover my ears trying to block out the sounds in an effort to seek peace, only to realize there is no escape.  Much like the leaves, it is a sound only I can hear.  Only there is no melody with which to dance.  No swaying to beautiful music.  It comes from within and covering my ears only serves to make it louder.  My thoughts race along with my heart and my skin feels as though it is crawling with insects. 

My only awareness is fear.  My only thought is panic.  My only desire is peace and quiet.

***

At the heart of this continual escape of and ultimate return to reality is the search of peace.  Although escaping, if only for a moment, or years at a time, feels less like a dance in the wind and more like a trapped soul, sounds less like beautiful music and more like deafening silence. 

My escape of reality looks and feels like…nothing.  Feeling no pain and no fear, no joy, and no freedom.  Lifeless and senseless, I feel protected.  Needing no one or nothing allows no one to need me.  Feeling no pain, and in turn, no compassion.  A shell of a person, a sum of parts made to work together, I know nothing more than breathing, thinking, moving, existing.

The return to reality feels akin to returning from war.  My own reflection is no longer recognizable as the battles have left me battered and bruised.  I am forced to operate in a world I am no longer accustomed to, one in which everyone is a stranger and danger is lurking around every corner.  Vulnerability has become the enemy and I struggle to form meaningful relationships.  I function as an outsider, feeling as though everyone has or will betray me.  The war emerges in my own mind as I continually fight the demons in a battle I am not equipped to win.                                                                                                    

In this moment, I have only the power of choice.  I can choose to continue fighting a win-less battle or surrender - surrender to those who can help me - to professionals, to family, to friends and to God, humbly offering my broken and battered body and soul for repair to those who can see where the pieces go to make me whole.  I can choose to stop fighting myself and to no longer be my own enemy. 

My surrender is acceptance of limitation and weakness and acceptance of a painful past over which I have no control.  I can accept responsibility for decisions I made and surrender those that were made for me.  I can accept love.   I can choose peace.

Internal peace born of acceptance has power to mend, creating a broken beauty where each scar appears as if sprinkled with glitter reflecting one another. 

It is through this I have learned that peace and quiet are independent.  Peace and acceptance belong together.  I have hope that one day, I will attend their wedding and it is there…that I will dance.