We soared into the world together—the brightness, the cold air, and the strange, new sounds. I sometimes forget the fact that I uniquely experienced life, differently from most. The day I was born, I had a brother and a sister that shared the day too. We were the same in the sense that we shared the bond of being triplets, but as an individual, I often felt alone and different. My siblings were extroverted, talented, social, and outwardly inquisitive. I was hidden, deeply thoughtful, introverted, and quiet.
I was content with stillness—I would watch a bug on a leaf for hours or imagine I was a princess, playing in the back of the woods of our house. I kept my head down in class and cried when my brother suffocated a bee in a glass jar. The world wasn’t so accepting of my views. When my brother struggled with writing, which we later learned was dyslexia, I whispered to him the answer on a test question and unfortunately was caught. I sobbed uncontrollably the rest of the day. I dreaded book reports and reading aloud, and I despised being put on the spot. These moments made me want to jump out of my skin. Even though I was a part of something as amazing as “triplets,” I often felt alone in the way I thought about the world and other people.
When I was 17, my triplet brother lost his life by suicide. I was never good at understanding my emotions, and the loss of my brother complicated those feelings further. The cycle of grief felt like my head was going to explode and my heart was going to burst. People didn’t understand the loss I felt. How could they? Most people I knew didn’t know what it was like to be a triplet, and I knew of no other person who had dealt with suicide. I mourned on my own, hiding these emotions that most felt compelled to avoid. The shame I felt caused me to become withdrawn and isolated.
When I graduated from high school, a friend of mine gave me a journal. I spent hours writing poetry and describing my feelings, no matter how awful they were to write. At first, I wrote beautiful cursive text throughout the pages, but later, I’d angrily scribble my hateful thoughts and hope no one dared to read. No matter how brutal it was and how miserable I felt, it was the first time I gave these feelings a voice. And through that, I’ve slowly learned to heal.
Counseling has helped over the years, but writing has saved me—it’s always been a companion to me. No matter how chaotic my life gets, how many losses I face, how many overwhelming experiences I have, writing centers me. Writing is the necessary tool for me to express and to feel. I think Anne Morrow Lindberg said it best,
“One writes not to be read but to breathe…one writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one’s mind, to dissipate one’s fears, to face one’s doubts, to look at one’s mistakes—in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one’s joy, but also to disperse one’s gloom. Like prayer—you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to ‘grace’.”
This “road back to grace” has taken me many years. At age 38, I still struggle with balance. I find serenity in nature and in times when I am allowed to think and wonder. Writing lets me put things in perspective and teaches me to understand how I feel.
It’s in the quiet and stillness that these words speak the loudest: I am not alone. You are not alone. We have a voice in this world.
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