Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.
I have a friend named Barbara who is the most popular person I know. She is invited to every party, brunch, or girl’s day out. When she is out at a social gathering, she is the person people gather around. If I’m out with another friend we’ll turn to each other and say, “Let’s call Barbara.” She brings with her a quiet grace that comforts us, she discerns the strengths in us that even we don’t know we have, she recognizes our secret talents and emboldens us. She is a cancer survivor many times over and her serene courage is solace for our own fears. She is our wishing well, our reflecting pool, our place of sanctuary. She listens. Don't get me wrong, she's not timid or retiring, she's a Texas southern belle and she defines fiesty. She just does not need to draw attention to herself, it is effortlessly drawn to her like a weary traveler to the welcoming glow of a lamp in a familiar window.
There were several responses to my “Giddy-Up” blog on the mmabser’s list. The responses reflected a fear that I was very familiar with, the fear of losing the perception I had of myself if I quit drinking. The self that was the life of the party, the confident, outgoing self. The chatty, funny self. The self that was the” lampshade on head” center of dubious attention. The self I had created with the help of alcohol to disguise or camouflage my real self. I remembered my real self as unsure, awkward, and withdrawn. The shrinking violet. The wallflower. Now I have to wonder if during my formative years when I started drinking, I managed to drown a self that could have matured into a woman of quiet grace like Barbara. A woman who has the respect and genuine affection of others instead of the momentary fleeting attention forced by an “in your face,” desperate brashness. Can that quiet, caring, sincere self be resuscitated? I hope so. I’m sure as heck going to try because she’s worth saving.
So today I’m out there doing my best to put on my listening ears and become a place of quiet grace for myself and others.