woe, o faithless foe

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“You could damn yourself with silence but never so effectively as by running your mouth.” –Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon

We are taught to stay quiet, so quiet, so as to remain nearly invisible. We hope that we will be noticed in some way despite the enforced, expected silence. Sharing, trusting, talking too much, revealing too much is trouble. To listen is to learn. To be quiet is to fulfill what is expected, to behave in a demure and controlled fashion.

But what if the story you have to tell is important? What if it will save your life, or at least redeem it? What if giving it voice – or life – restores your posture, finally lifting the invisible yoke of self-blame, doubt, responsibility, guilt (whatever it is) from your shoulders? What if finally speaking up frees you – finally – finally – finally?

But the consequences! How well we know and how bitterly we anticipate, and often, feel the consequences. The inevitable (?) backlash, the (un)expected wrath of hostile reactions, even if there is no hint of regret for having unclipped the tongue.

It makes no difference if the self-censorship hides your own feelings, wants, needs, experiences or shields the actions or feelings of others. It makes no difference if silence weaves its cocoon around systemic injustice. It all ends the same if it is never spoken or shared.

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