Silence, self and family systems

I realize that this is an expansive  topic and could possibly be content for a book, incredibly long post, and/or a series of posts. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about and  I’d like to jot down to connect it all together. This probably comes from having spent the past two plus days with my mom; more often than not a usual good reflective source and time for me to notice things about myself and my family system. When I was young my mom says that I loved to play by myself and that I was most content when I was reading, drawing, and playing with my toys, in my bedroom. Not that I didn’t participate in lots of family activities, she just says that she remembers that about me. I was a good athlete in my teen years and I chose sports that were quite ‘solitary’: swimteam (I loved being in the water on long swims by myself), springboard diving (part of a larger team but I enjoyed the individuality of the competition), sailing (I was incredibly blessed to be given a small sailboat for my highschool graduation as a gift from my parents). My sailboat had room for two, but that was pretty tight. My mom was sharing with me how she remembers that I use to be gone for the day – I’d ride my bike a couple of miles to the yacht club where I would then proceed to prep my boat and head out sailing for the day. I have always enjoyed silence. It’s kind of tricky when you are a stay at home mom, with three children, a dog, and a husband. For a long  time I have been very creative in finding and discovering ways to nurture my deep need for silence and solitude. When my kids were young I paid a dear friend to watch my kids for a couple of hours each week. I would typically take myself on a solo walk somewhere outdoors and then find a cafe to sit down, write in my journal or read. Silence and solitude are not easy practices even for someone like me, who is more introverted than extroverted. Here’s where noticing things about my family system come to the forefront. Both my parents were quite anxious, my mom probably more so than my dad, although maybe she just verbalized it more. She still lives in a quite constant state of anxiety – I think that there is just too much ordinariness in life for her, so she actually creates ‘fear’ to give herself some excitement (just a thought and wondering on my part, because I think that I do the same thing). The more I choose to enter into practicing silence and solitude, the more I notice the internal voices inside me that come up with all kinds of imagined scenarios of fear, terror, anxiety,etc. I enjoy the following quotes because they help me to continue entering into silence and notice my soul : “…the doorway into thanks and a silence in which another voice may speak.” Mary Oliver. “…to cross over into the stillness that permits one to enter into that space kept empty in the heart for the Word of God.” “darkness is luminous, that the silence speaks.” I’m not sure who wrote those ones, I’ve just jotted them down in my journal. This one I love: “We seek to live a more contemplative life so that we will not have to wait until we are dying to learn to live.” James Finley.

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