“Silence does not mean that a person quits. It simply means that one doesn’t want to argue with people who just don’t want to understand.”

I don’t know how many have heard of the Simon and Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence”. It’s lyrics start off with:

Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left it’s seed while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence.

The lyrics of the whole song are disturbing and yet relevant at the same time. It’s about the inability of people to communicate emotionally. Written by Paul Simon almost the same time as the assassination of JFK in 1964, the song was a dismal failure in the initial debut, which became a hit after the second and third versions were released.

Silence is a haunting and eerie emotion because one cannot understand its meaning. Similar to the music of Simon and Garfunkel, silence is a confusing state.

Silence is at times attributed to weakness. There are those who prefer to stay silent in order to avoid problems. But their silence should be taken with apprehension because it’s the shallow water that plans big moves. Remember, the noisy ones are always predictable.

“…my silence means I have adapted to the changes in my life and I don’t want to complain. My silence means I’m on a self-healing process and I’m trying to forget everything that has hurt me. My silence means I am just trying to move on gracefully with all my dignity…”

Strength through vulnerability

I was watching a delayed episode of America’s Got Talent season 12 where the artist Seal was a guest judge. One of the contestants was Kechi Okwuchi, who in 2005 and was 16 years old at that time, was one of two survivors of a plane crash in Nigeria traveling between Abuja and Port Harcourt. The plane crash landed in Port Harcourt, killing 107 passengers and crew. Since then, she had over 100 surgeries to treat her burns and injuries. Ever since that fateful day, music became her daily companion. After her performance, she received a standing ovation from the judges and Seal had said that his daily mantra was “strength through vulnerability”.

I share her story because I believe that we can somehow all relate to this. We are all broken in some form. And the story of Kechi is the story of our weakest moments in our lives. The resilience and strength to fight back in spite of the odds serve as an inspiring story for many of us who have fallen and have difficulty in rising from that fall.

Change and chances are given to us unlimitedly. Saying that we don’t have time to improve our thoughts and our lives is like saying we don’t have time to stop for gas because we’re too busy driving. Eventually the situation will catch up with us.

They say that sometimes we don’t realize our own strength until someone tries to take advantage of our weaknesses. When we are at our lowest points in our lives and you have someone take advantage of that situation, that vulnerability, one cannot help but feel angry or sorry or sad or all of the above.

Brené Brown summarizes what I believe vulnerability is.

Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s our greatest measure of courage.

And forgiveness is part of the process of strengthening ourselves. After all, when one forgives, two souls are set free.

Of betrayals and forgiveness

Nothing hurts more than being betrayed by the single person you thought would never hurt you.

Whether it’s someone in your family, your friend, your better half, your colleague or your business associate, betrayal is an act that’s difficult to forgive. It is natural to be angry, especially when the boundaries on issues of trust have been crossed.

The pain of betrayal changes people in an incomprehensible way. Betrayal is abusive and destructive. People end up blaming themselves for entrusting their feelings to someone. When the vulnerability is ripped apart, a feeling of being violated slices through the core. The hurt is deep and difficult to mend. It’s because that the moral fiber of every relationship is built on trust.

Love grows where trust is laid, and love dies where trust is betrayed”

How do you move on after a betrayal?

It’s difficult. But achievable. Every process of pain requires a healing period. There is no overnight cure. It’s not easy to “forgive and forget”. Those two words are immature thoughts learned during our childhood years. How do you say to someone “I forgive you for betraying me”?

I can only surmise that the one person who has ever said that, was nailed to the cross 2000 years ago by those who betrayed Him.

And there is no greater pain felt than one in a betrayal.

Forgiveness does not come easy. More often than not, the one that was betrayed has difficulty in moving on. It’s a vicious cycle of anger, hate, and wallowing in misery. It’s unproductive and unhealthy both physically and emotionally.

I get it. There is pain. And the pain is deep. But I also said that there’s a grace period called healing. And healing only begins when we learn the art of forgiveness. No, not the the kind that says “it’s alright for hurting me”. Because it’s never alright. It’s the one that says, “I forgive myself from allowing you to hurt me all this time, because I love my life, because I deserve better, because I have crumbled and fallen and will pick up the pieces from where you left me.” It’s that one where you learn to forgive yourself.

We forgive not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because you don’t want to suffer and hurt yourself every time you remember what they did to you. Forgiveness is mental healing and the final act to loving yourself.”