"why don't you talk?"
"oh, her? the quiet one?"
"Why are you so shy?"
"How come you never smile?"
Questions I've heard my whole life. I've inhabited silence until it swallowed me whole, until words disappeared from my lips nearly entirely and stayed in my head, unable to float out. I turned inside out, frozen in myself. My silence protected me, and then it ensnared me. I played dead.
I am always wondering who I could have been in words and facial expressions, who I could have let in. But I am still scared of letting out.
No one ever asked the meaning of my silence. They took it for absence. My silence is not nothingness, it's dense and expansive. It's a language of its own. Therapists and hospitals have left me in it alone, taken it for checking out, for defense, for opposition.
"What is your silence about, in here?"
My eyes spill over. Like someone is dangling a life preserver in front of me and I can't reach it. I am new to words not written on paper. My words are learning to walk on crutches.