Many of us claim to be good listeners, but do we listen to the silence? How many people do we overlook simply because they retreat into silence?
I have not updated my personal blog in over a month. There are several reasons for that including a crazy overseas travel schedule, sickness and the craziness of having kids in school. But those things happen a lot for me and have not hindered me in the past. The real reason for my silence has been depression. This is the first time I’ve mentioned this publicly, but from time to time I deal with a mild depression. It seems to follow my overall health; when I get sick I am more likely to get depressed. (That is one reason I want to become a runner.) For me the result is usually that I lose interest in things. I cannot seem to force myself to write or read or even play games. Once it’s over I usually ignore it and don’t talk much about it.
Truthfully, I don’t expect anyone to notice my silence on my blog. There are so many abandoned blogs that it would make sense to assume I had given up or lost interest. I really didn’t expect any reaction except for a corresponding dip in my Google Analytics numbers.
But it did leave me wondering. What about people we know? How often do we stop to listen to their silence? I find myself attributing various causes in my mind when people suddenly seem aloof. “He must be very busy.” “I guess they don’t have time for me.” “Why are they acting so snobbish?”
It seems so very shallow and self-centered when I think about it. It may not be that the friend is bailing out on me, but that I’m bailing out on them when they need me most. When people retreat into silence – whether from depression, trauma or other reasons – they are usually not able to ask for help. We have to listen carefully – listen to the silence.