Speechless, but telling a story.

I chose not to speak until I was three. It points to a personality trait of taciturnity that continues to prevail. It points me in the direction of family mythology (“ you’ve never stopped since”, my mother’s voice, and patently untrue.) I am haunted by the spaces that exist in my mind, about my early, formative years .  I only know what I am told, I know that perception carries a weight, and I would value the counterweight of memory. I was the youngest of three. I know I was unplanned, but not unwanted. I know my parents were aware of what a child needs, because they were both teachers And I have seen my mother with young children, watched her play with my own two, encouraging, stimulating, offering a view of the world being a place of beauty and opportunity. And I question why my feelings of belonging in the world are so out of kilter with this; why I have had to impress a different world order on myself, than the one I feel inside, one of disorder, ugliness, panic, displacement, one of gross meaningless. Every day I put away the feelings that belong to me, wrap them up, mummify them, and locate different ones, because they make me fit in better, with the people I love.  And I don’t know why I have to do this.
I was born into a rural idyll, where mother was content bringing up the babies, and daddy went to work .That’s the story I am told.  A year or so has gone  by, and I have chosen to withhold the gift of speech ; knowing my mother as I do, this will not have gone unnoticed. I know she will have encouraged, sung songs, played with jigsaws, thrown my brothers into the attempt to bring me out of my silent world. And I know she will be worried, anxious, wanting a normal upbringing for me, wanting the best, wanting me to realise my potential. Did I intuit all of this? Is this why I withheld?  It is a powerful human response to the world, to want to partake in it’s language.  We do it naturally, we want to make noises, we want to attract attention, we want to communicate. I chose not to partake, and there has to be a reason for that. I know too, that as all this play is going on, I was aware it is a goal towards an end, and not an endeavour in itself. Children are like animals, they smell out the core of things.
I think I was my mother’s silent scream.  I think I was her, as a baby, because that is what babies do think.We have to learn to separate our identities from our care giver. I think my mother did not allow herself to recognise or express the unhappiness within her, and I think I became that bundle of unexpressed , angry, confused feelings. Later, decades later I still have trouble unravelling the way I think and feel about living, from the attitudes my mother holds.  I hold her in admiration, and yet have hostility towards her. I am grateful, and resentful, in equal measure.
And forever after, I have a duality about myself , that I cannot reconcile, a need to belong, and a need to remove myself; a desire to use words, to communicate a pain and joy of living to my fellow beings, and a simultaneous ennui of language and attempts to  communicate. So my story is self referencing, and simultaneously aware of its absence of impact, of being anything. It reflects my view on what it is to be human, simultaneously absorbing and absurdly meaningless .


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