Lessons From My Auditory Hallucinations: You’re Too Attached to Words
How the unchecked power of words in my life was affecting my most important relationships.
I don’t know how long I’ve been experiencing auditory hallucinations, but it’s been some time now. They usually come when there’s enough monotonous background noise for them to insert themselves into my brain.
Sometimes in the shower, I hear a choir singing an ominous, melancholy melody. Sometimes in the homogenous whirr of a box fan, I hear bells chiming. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I hear words so clearly that I think someone is speaking directly into my ear.
These words are usually random chatter or incoherent phrases that have no meaning to me. They often come in different voices and different tones: sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes yelling, sometimes whispering.
But, every now and then, I hear something worth writing down and pondering for a few days.
I’m a novice meditator. I often feel like my mind is full of ten rogue teleprompters going at full speed, and I’m reading all of them at once. Meditation has been a way for me to hit the pause button and find stillness in my brain.
The very first time I meditated, I almost immediately heard a voice. It was loud and fleeting, a man’s voice I didn’t recognize. And it said,
“You’re too attached to words.”
My immediate reaction was, “Well, obviously.” I’m a writer, and I love to talk. As an artist, words are my preferred material.
My second reaction was dumbfoundedness as I realized the elegance and indisputability I’d that statement. It was so simple and so obvious; how had it taken me so long to notice?
As a human being, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter, as a lover, words are my ammunition and my Achilles Heel.
I cling to words as gospel. There’s little I don’t take personally, regardless of my outward reaction.
I want to be praised, and when I receive words of affirmation, I glow from the inside out. And when I receive criticism from my family, friends, boyfriend, even strangers, the words sit in my heart until they’ve burned a hole through my body.
When words are spoken to me, I pick them up, and I analyze them until I’ve found meanings that even the source didn’t even intend.
Words can cut me like a knife, fill my chest with the delight and thrill of a million restless bees, and rock me to sleep in the embrace of a familiar hug.
In a way, I’ve become my own paradox. As many times as I’ve clung to the words “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” it just isn’t true.
I’ve given words so much power in my life that they’ve become my primary weapon and my primary crutch, which I’ve come to realize has affected my relationships in more ways than one.
I so desperately want to be listened to.
I need my words to be heard. I cling to this need as if this is the one and only solution to my problems, and if it doesn’t happen, my life as I know it will disappear.
When my boyfriend and I argue, all I want is for him to listen to my carefully crafted words. I believe that if he only just listened and heard my words, no matter what they were, he would understand me and my perspective. I thought being heard was the solution that would make me feel better and make all our problems go away.
Being heard and listened to by your partner is important. There’s no doubt about that. But listening alone doesn’t solve anything, regardless of your communication dynamics and individual needs.
The thing is, he doesn’t care about words nearly as much as I do. My words mean little to him if they aren’t attached to an action or a visible truth. He doesn’t care to spend all night ‘talking it out’ until I have found solace and resolution.
The resolution for him isn’t the apologies, the explanations, or the life lessons articulated and learned. His resolution is what our behaviors and co-existence look like following our bouts.
I see comments directed towards me as a reflection of myself, not of the sender.
He also speaks to me in a much looser, less articulated manner that becomes a problem when I cling to each word as naked truths. I usually end up attaching meanings to words and phrases that were never meant to coexist, catapulting us into a matrix-like discussion of arguments within arguments.
And I never forget words.
I can also pull out something that was said to me weeks, months, years prior to use against anyone at any time. If you say something to me that I deem significant, I file it away in the innermost depths of my soul, waiting to be used when something of the contrary is presented to me.
Once I had these realizations, my communication style has begun to change. My boyfriend understands me better, and I’m learning how to communicate with someone who needs different things from my words.
Words are powerful. There’s no denying that. But I’d given words so much power in my life that I became secondary and a subordinate.
I also learned that my way of communicating is not universal. It’s essential to understand the way you communicate and how you like to be communicated to. But it’s equally as important to attempt to understand the communicative styles and needs of those close to you.
Words still have value to me, but I can check that power when it gets out of hand.
My boyfriend and I have a much healthier communication style. Without an understanding of the other, our communications were reactive, leading to misunderstandings and unwarranted explosions.
He chooses his words more carefully, and I relinquish the power of careful articulation and word hoarding for more simplicity, awareness, and authenticity.
He listens more, and I talk less.