When I started therapy I hated silence. Especially in group sessions. It always felt so awkward. As someone who’s always taken responsibility for making other people feel at ease, I instinctively wanted to fill the space. But in therapy that means talking about yourself. A big ask, particularly in group – it felt selfish.
I had a hard session with J on Thursday. I almost cancelled beforehand, as I just felt dark. I had this bleak feeling, an emptiness that isn’t really possible to talk about. I usually fill that blankness with fantasies about suicide, and I didn’t want to talk to her about that. She doesn’t tend to let me cancel without a good reason. I’m not very good at lying to her, so I had a feeling it would just create pointless drama if I tried.
I attempted to avoid talking. I focused on the silence and the books. I furtively avoided eye contact. But the subject still came up. I guess I shouldn’t worry about what she thinks of me, but it feels like I’m letting her down when I say I still think about killing myself. I hate that feeling. I don’t want her to be disappointed in me.
This conversation just took me into myself. I curled up and started to dissociate as I felt so young. We both knew I needed to move my body to get back to the here and now, but I froze. I literally couldn’t stand up to move. And I didn’t want to be any further away from her than I was. The chair on the other side of the room seemed like it was a million miles away.
Eventually I managed to sit myself on the sofa beside her and get back to reality. We talked about normal stuff like cooking and dogs and work. The kind of run-of-the mill fodder that we all use every day to relax into conversation and avoid the silence where this all started.
But while silence can feel really hard, it can also be comforting. Sometimes it just feels right, sitting in silence with someone who understands how I’m feeling. Those small moments offer a deep sense of companionship. This silence brings togetherness. It means someone is alongside me, willing to share the place I am in without asking questions, allowing me to sit and just be.