on learning to say shut up

growing up, shut-up was not allowed in our house. with good reason. it's a powerful little phrase. it packs a punch. and there wasn't a place for it in our home.

it's an expression that's overused. taken too lightly. made casual by how commonly it's tossed out.

but it's got some claws that one.

i can be far too judgmental. it's one of my worst traits. absolutely not something i'm proud of.

i'm judgmental of myself, of others (equal opportunist here), i make assumptions and take things too personally. and then, adding insult to injury, i rarely say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said.

but i'm working on it. and sometimes, shut up, as it turns out, is a great place to start.

i found myself in a situation recently with someone i barely knew and the conversation moved swiftly from global warming to scientific research to antidepressants.

ah antidepressants. why would anyone take them when they're known to increase the risk of suicidal thoughts? he asked.

a perfectly valid question. mostly posed by those who've never been in the grips of a knock-out-drag-down fight with the disease.

the thing is, that question is not terribly well informed. it's one-dimensional in nature. there are so many questions that can and must be asked. and that one is just the start. and to begin and end there is too miss the point entirely.

perhaps it was the way he asked it that pissed me off. perhaps it was his judgement that really drove me nuts. perhaps it was that after asking the question he just kept talking, with none of what he said grounded in experience.

here's the whole of my philosophy on depression: unless you've ever suffered from it, you don't get to judge those who have. unless you've gone to the mouth of the thing and managed to gather up your mangled limbs and trek back out, then shut up. because you haven't a clue. unless you've watched, helpless, as someone you've loved has lost the fight or lost years of their life to it, you do not get to stand on the sidelines and pass a judgment. and you certainly don't have the right to give voice to that judgement. so again. shut. the hell. up. because, with all due respect, you sound like an idiot.  so is my stance on love. and relationships. no love story (throughout the entire human history!) has ever repeated. yes, similarities abound, absolutely. but my love story does not, nor cannot compare to yours. but because we all have experience with love, we assume we know. and so we judge. from the outside, we judge and we assume. he's all wrong for her, one of them must be cheating, and on and on the wheel does turn. but we are not there when two people fall into bed at night, nor are we there in the morning when a small pulse passes between two hands, a signal to begin the day. we are not there. and because we are not there, on the inside of the thing, we do not get to judge.

so we best just shut up (and trust me, i include myself in this).

the love stories that have colored my life have been mostly private. i keep them as such because in my experience people attempt to make small what i hold to be most dear, most true. well i've been in love, so i know. well i have more experience, so i get to say. 

you do know? how do you know? you do have more experience? how do you know you have more experience? is it that your love stories have followed a more traditional course that you're entitled to sit there on your high horse and pass a judgement?

shut. up. 

listening is a powerful thing. and there is certainly a place for silence.