“I’d tell you I miss you but I don’t know how,
I’ve never heard silence quite this loud.”
I recently bought the new album of one of my favourite singers, Taylor Swift, and the song ‘The Story of Us’ contained the above lyrics.
And it got me thinking about conflict – or the lack thereof, to be more precise. I think this phrase quite nicely sums up the strange effect that being non-confrontational can have on people.
When trying to work out how to go about this post, I did as any Year 7 debater would do and began with defining the key term. So, I asked Google to define ‘conflict’ for me, and although there were many differing suggestions ranging from “Conflict are an English anarcho-punk band” to “Conflict is a military board game”, the very first definition interested me.
Conflict: “an open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals)”.
This troubles me. In order to explain the problem I have with this definition, here’s the one I think is more accurate: “a state of opposition between persons or ideas or interests”. Spot the difference?
I believe – and personal experience backs me up – that it is the conflict that is not “open” that is often the more significant.
I will admit, recent events in my life may be causing me to be biased in this sense. I recently went through a rather nasty falling-out with a couple of long-term friends. It was a slow build up, but culminated a few weeks ago when I decided enough was enough, and confronted them about how I felt. I was calm, rational and controlled; I gave them ample opportunity to respond; and I used all the ‘I statements’ they teach you about in Primary School for dealing with problems sensibly.
Their response was to end the conversation there and walk away. That was about three weeks ago, and no communication has occured between us since (not for lack of trying on my part).
The funny thing is, although I had been struggling in that relationship for around three years, the last couple of weeks in which we haven’t communicated at all feels like the most conflicted our ‘friendship’ has ever been.
The amount I have been able to perceive from their body language, facial expressions, actions and the simple fact that they have decided to ignore me, has been extraordinary. I have made discoveries about their personalities and had epiphanous moments of realisation as I recall moments in our relationship that I can now see in a different light.
It is ironic, but not talking to them has allowed me to ‘hear’, in a sense, who they really are. And for that matter, who I am and how I feel about myself and them.
I don’t regret losing their friendship. It has been a long road and I have actually come out of the whole experience a stronger, happier, more positive person than ever. But I can’t help but marvel at the contrast: my words had little effect on the situation. Their silence has given me the insight and closure I needed to move on.
I’ve never heard silence quite this loud.