― Richard Brautigan
I am an introvert. There are no if’s and’s or but’s about this. I enjoy social interaction, I enjoy being “in relationship to”. I am even very proficient at managing social interactions. All this said, I am aware that such interactions (for good or ill) deplete my energy and take me farther away from my centre, my pivot point, my balance.
I don’t think introverts have the market cornered on this phenomenon. I do, however, think many of us are keenly aware of the need for personal space, time to reflect, opportunity to, as the quote above suggests, reduce intellectual and emotional noise so that we are better able to tune in – to ourselves.
What does this have to do with estrangement you may ask? I would say that the ability to reduce intellectual and emotional noise is central to recovery and healing, regardless of the issue. Dysfunctional or otherwise fraught relationships create an immense amount of intellectual and emotional “noise”. We can become so caught up in the incessant chatter of problems, other people’s words or behaviour, our woundedness or our anger and fear that we lose ourselves in it.
Another metaphor. Have you ever been working or doing something, and have the stereo or tv on in the background? Have you ever suddenly realized that this noise, chosen noise even, has suddenly become too loud or aggravating? Some of us will turn the stereo or tv off. Some of us will reduce the volume. How many of us however, determine we will never listen to music or the tv again?
Some of us see estrangement as the ultimate way of removing this noise. No matter how we try to find points of balance, to retain our peace, we are unable to do so whilst sitting in the noise of dysfunction. Some of us take frequent time outs from draining relationships and are able to more fluidly move in and out of them, without eliminating the relationship or our peace of mind. We are able to effectively “manage the noise”. Some of us are firmly stuck in noise, without understanding that we have the freedom to turn down the volume, or even turn it off. We may have forgotten how to seek silence and the space to reconnect with ourselves. Some of us, even after turning the noise off, are still living it, thinking about it, talking about it, reacting to it.
To heal is to reduce intellectual and emotional noise, whether this noise is attributable to other people, or our own noise. It’s to place a high value on our need and responsibility to tune in and deeply listen to ourselves. To heal is to realize that we have the ability to filter the noise that keeps us from tuning in and connecting … to ourselves.
We can turn the volume down. We can take a time out.