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Silence was my enemy. In it, the ringing and buzzing in my ears was deafening. During the day, I couldn’t concentrate on much of anything in the silence. At night, I couldn’t sleep because the constant sound kept me awake. And in the silence, my mind had a tendency to wander, to bring up issues I didn’t want to think about or deal with. In the silence, I couldn’t drown out my own voices. White noise was necessary to get through the day and night. TV, music, a fan that ran at night regardless of the weather. Anything that would drown out the ringing and my own thoughts.

Now, I long for the silence. The ringing in my ears is a welcoming sound that means I have time and space to just be. Now, there is a constant cacophony that threatens my sanity. There is no escape from it, except in sleep. A partner complaining, criticizing, bitching. Kids demanding, repeating, questioning, complaining. One says things over and over again trying to get her mother to pay attention to her 24/7. A constant need for attention that drives everyone a little crazy. Another makes random sounds and talks just to make noise, perhaps fearing the waiting silence. If there isn’t talking, then there is the sound of feet constantly walking on the hardwood floors. The kids don’t know how to be still. They don’t care that their constant pacing, talking, makes us both crazy. They don’t care that eventually their mother will yell at them for it because her brain is overstimulated and can’t take it. And when there isn’t talking and the sounds of pacing, there is the tv that is too loud, the stereo that is too loud, the computer that is too loud. Always noise. Always something except quiet. I sometimes think my partner needs that constant noise to drown out the voices in her head that she fights with.

But two days a week, there is relative silence. Those are the days the kids are with their dad. Those are the days when we both have a break from the constant din of activity, the constant stream of demands, the constant need for noise. Those are the days I look forward to every week. Sometimes I feel guilty for that. I do long for the quiet. I long for the peace. Does that make me a bad person? Few are willing to admit that they need the silence. Few are willing to admit they need a break. Few are willing to admit that sometimes their family drives them up the fucking wall. I’ll admit to it. And you can judge me for that if you want. Just don’t take away my silence.

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