I seem have no words left to speak today. I have spent them in an agony of remembrance. They have resonated around people who may not have understood them, and now I have returned home, tired, disillusioned, and disappointed.
As I grow older this appears to be my default experience. Where I think I might find people with whom to connect, I frequently wish I had remained silent so that I am now in the position of renegotiating my relationship not only with the people I speak to, but also with the words I use between us. If I make a gesture or move my face in a certain way, more often than not, I can make myself understood. If I talk to total strangers – for instance others in supermarket queues, I can communicate on a superficial level. After all, it isn’t difficult to laugh about what it’s like to stand waiting, discuss what we have bought or what the children at the front of the queue are doing.
When, however, I try to describe my pain, my fear, my lonliness to those I know and trust, when I try to express disillusionment to those who should know why I am so burdened, then the task become almost impossible. A chasm opens. They cannot hear me, I cannot hear them. They do not understand and I appear to have lost the ability to make myself either heard or understood. I do not know when or how that happened, whether it is a consequence of growing older in a young world, whether it is a personal loss of confidence, or whether it is a growing sense of fear on my part of being totally misunderstood, which, in fact, makes it easier for others to misunderstand me.
So, too, when I sit down to write.
I am overwhelmed by the stories I have to tell, the memories that will not be silenced but need me to give them language to bring them to life. I take out the photographs of my family and know that they are waiting for me to begin. So I sit and wait with them in hope of a better tomorrow.