confessions [of a Mel] part.8.

Remember how in that last post about our 'stay.cation' I was saying how wonderfully quiet it was?
Confession: silence hasn't always been my friend.

Now most of us probably struggle with some form of social awkwardness, right?  Some are too outgoing and overwhelm everybody... some are too quiet and befuddle everybody... and some are extroverted-introverts who are stressed by silence - so they just can't stop talking (yep, that ones me).

If admitting the problem is the first step to change... I've had a number of years to work this 'kink' out of my system.  But, boy you should have seen me in my prime.  
Back in my late teens, early twenties.. I was a piece-o'-work!  Put me in any social setting and I was instantly steering the conversations with a whole barrage of blathering.
My relatives used to tease me about being in training as an 'interrogator' when they would receive the full force of my awkwardness.  See, I used to work with them, and every day I would start up: "Hey, how are you? How was your night? What did you do? What did you have for dinner?  How was your sleep?!" {shudder... I wish I was joking here}.

I just couldn't handle silence.

 Ben got a good dose of this dysfunction while we dated too.
We'd be out on a nice nature hike... and I'd be chattering away like a chick-a-dee... and eventually, he'd gently say: "You know, it's ok to not have something to talk about every moment... silence can be nice too". Love that guy.

So, I'd agree, apologise, fidget ...while my mind was still racing as to what the next topic of conversation could be.
Sometimes I'd wonder what the heck was my problem.  Especially when you have those 'out-of-body' moments in a conversation and you're trying to yell: "will somebody just shut ME up?!". 

Finally, an epiphany did just that.
Not years on a psychiatrist's couch, or episodes of Dr.Phil... or any other intervention.
Just a drive in the back seat of my parent's car.

They were having a wee 'spat'.
Nothing too serious, but enough to strike to my very core.

(See, growing up my dear folks used to argue like cats and dogs.
One would yell, the other stomp off and slam things.
But always, always it would culminate in the 'silent treatment'.
Thick, oppressive, cut-it-with-a-knife silence would suffocate our home).

In that car seat, as a young adult, it hit me.
Silence in my world was not neutral.
Silence meant something is wrong, or, someone is mad.

I unknowingly would run from silence in any/all interactions for fear it meant the other person was upset with me or uncomfortable.

This epiphany was a HUGE breakthrough for me personally.

I'm still a work-in-progress of course.
I still love to interrogate ask meaningful questions of others.

But, I'm also learning to breathe on the other side of silence.
That allowing room for quiet in a conversation can be a beautiful thing... it can even draw others out when they feel comfortable (not squashed by the awkward factor).

I'm learning to be still.
To listen better.
So, to all you friends and family who endured my manic-questionings over the years... thank you for your patience, and I'm sorry for being such a dweeb.
To my parents, thanks for being such a shining example of God's grace that restored and revitalized your marriage.

Shhhhhhhhhhh, can you hear it?
I'm not even breaking out in a sweat anymore!

mellow mama,
Mel ;o)


  1. I'm guilty of this sometimes, too. I don't think for me it has as much to do with feeling awkward as it does with wanting to get the VERY MOST out of every single second. I get so excited over being with people I know but want to know better, don't know but want to, or know completely but love as much as ever.

    From time to time, being a chickadee is alright too. But even chickadees need to learn to chill out, and listen.

  2. I hear you on that one Dan, it's true, I too always want to seize the moment to delve into the 'depths' of people's stories - really get to know them - I just need to remember to do it in a natural/relaxed way.... you know, instead of shining a bright light in their eyes and firing the questions all rapid-fire! ;o) Tweet of you to say so, chick-a-dee-dee-dee-deeeee.

  3. Sigh...I know this all too well. I believe just yesterday I was on a hike filling all the quiet space with chatter while simultaneously questioning why I feel the need to stuff every gap in a conversation with anything. I think you just illuminated something pretty big for me. Thank you for this post. I very much grew up in a household where a disagreement would lead to doors slammed and hours of uncomfortable angry silence.

  4. Aw, Stacy... it sucks eh? Sometimes I feel just 'aware' enough to know I'm screwed up somehow.. but not wise enough to change it... this is one spot I'm gaining the upper-hand on, finally, I think (!). Sorry to hear your household held that painful 'quiet' too... thank you so much for sharing though, I was truly HOPING this post may helps others ... we should really have tea - and be awkwardly silent together sometime soon! hehe. xx

  5. Great post! What an amazing 'hit you at the core' life changing realization in the car that day! Wow!
    I came to a similar realization years ago also. For me, I was awkward because I could feel the feelings of others. When a silence would come along and I felt that it made whoever I was speaking with uncomfortable, I quickly tried to come to their rescue by filling in the silence. After my homeopathic training I too came to see that the silence was an opening for others to share with me. I've been getting to really know and relate with people a lot better since then :)
    Thanks for sharing :)

  6. I really enjoyed this post Mel! Thanks for sharing. I tried to comment a few days ago but had computer trouble (surprise, surprise).

    You're so lovely! Don't feel too badly about having been overly talkative! Everyone does this to some degree- especially when we are young. I did too. I felt the awkward feelings of others in those moments of silence and tried to come to their rescue by talking :) But what a profound realization for you! How much you changed and grew in that moment in the car! And you can never see yourself the same again :)

    I love these points in life where you suddenly see something clearly about yourself! Here's one of mine: When I was a kid, my older sister was giving a party in the basement and I was playing by myself in the family room (you know, the usual pretending to be Michael Jackson and bustin' a move to Thriller in front of a live audience game?). Anyway, I didn't notice at first that my sister's friends were watching me. When I finally saw them, they were laughing- I'm sure because they thought I was cute. But I was totally crushed and embarrassed and spent most of my life in fear of being laughed at for being myself from then on. Can you believe it? From one experience, years of fear? It wasn't until I was 18 that I had my 'aha' moment about this.
    So glad to know you came to love silence. It is a blessing and so are you :)

  7. Can I just say for the record that you are such a delight to have (back) in my life?! You're sweet to wrestle - and submit - these computer glitches to get this note to me.. thank you Andrea! Yes, these 'crossroads' moments are such great teachers in our life - funny we spend half our lives being such confused puddles of insecurity... only to get older and realize we got great depths of uniqueness waiting to be plumed!
    (P.S.. while you were dancing to thriller.. I was cowering under the couch freaked out at age 4.. when my mama didn't know I was watching!!) lol.

  8. Hi Mel. I never ever ever know what to say in any social situation, so I would often find myself just letting the silence overwhelm me, and then freaking out because I didn't know what to say to fill it. And then I learned that I actually really love silence. And while sometimes it still feels awkward, I don't mind sitting in a quiet car with my BFF listening to tunes. Or on a busy street with a new blog-pal, letting the conversation lapse when that noisy truck comes sweeping by and not pick it back up right away. I guess for me silence means quiet reflection, and being so comfortable with the person you are hanging out with that you don't need to "fill it" with anything.

    Wow....that comment went on way longer than I anticipated! Must have been a good post......Happy Friday!!

  9. Lisa! Now that I know its' YOU.. thanks for your comment, lol. That sounds like a beautiful way to 'be' and to relate with others... in quiet reflection, it is so profound to have 'space' for that in conversations. thanks for 'filling up the space' here tho! lol happy weekend to you!!


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