For a good chunk of my childhood, I did not speak. This was the height of my popularity.
Because, at this time, my parents were hippie liberal bohemians, they decided it would be best if I got my education in home environment where I would be free to till the garden-heart of my inner creativity. They purchased a book called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and some puppets and some building blocks and I went on to receive the greatest early childhood education anyone could ever receive.
After just 100 lessons, (which were as difficult as advertised), I became literate. I mostly used my newfound power to figure out which cereals were most delicious.
I was an excellent reader, and probably had far superior vocabulary and much clearer syntax than any of my peers, but for some reason I never felt the urge to express these skills through verbal communication. Even when I spoke to my mom it was in a whisper.
Any free time not spent reading was spent staring at walls, trying to help my dolls process the accumulated knowledge into the key to unlocking the doors of perception.
I continued this trend of silent knowledge accumulation until about fifth grade, when I began to grow tired of never getting my way, but was still unable to speak.
So instead of talking, I began to develop “anger issues.” I would break things and throw things and cry. This quickly ended my reign of popularity.
My once endearing silence had become terrifying. My parents had no choice but to readjust their strategy.
Sometimes I think that human depression is caused from an unfortunate mixture of empathy and imagination. Empathy opens you up to dark feelings that aren’t even yours, and imagination makes these feelings real and able to hurt you.
Just to keep yourself safe, you start to close off any vulnerabilities you see in yourself. You patch them up so the feelings that follow you can’t wriggle their way in and burrow inside you.
You feel proud of yourself for cleverly blocking off the hole in your chest. You don’t even mind the emptiness. The emptiness is safe. You care store all sorts of things in the emptiness. Usually some cash-money.
Everything seems to be going okay for a while. You’re lying to yourself, and you know you’re lying to yourself, but you don’t think it matters because everyone lies to themselves.
Material things do a good enough job filling the hole. You’d use something better if you had some idea of what that was, but you don’t. Maybe Jesus could fill the hole for you, but you don’t really trust him after two-thousand years of child crusades and inquisitions. Besides, you’ve visited too many museums to believe the earth is 6000 years old. So instead you just wait…
When I get like this it’s you don’t ever want to leave your bed. You know when they’re this close it’s only a matter of time, so you kind of hide to delay the inevitable. The only way you can manage any interaction is to become a quiet lonely starchild who loves with the cold distance of a terrible ice demon or human father.
You let it in the hole is filled. You feel a little less empty, but you can’t help but feel calloused, uncaring. You’re content with yourself but you don’t want anyone to see you. And you let it consume you, fearful of what may someday emerge from the void-egg around you.