As a child I used to get in trouble for talking too much. I was a “chatterbox” and I came from a family where people could stand around talking, telling stories for hours. My dad often shared stories of the cars he’d owned and repaired over the years. My mom talked about patients she cared for, her gift allowing her to be an angel in geriatric care where older adults simply want to be heard and listened to. Mom loved conversing with her elderly patients, talking about times gone by.

On one level I’ve intellectually known that I’ve been burnt out since around August 2021. A lot has happened. I’ve documented it, looked at it the way a forensic investigator examines hair and soil samples to see what might have happened. However, it wasn’t until earlier this year that the burnout got back enough to even make me stop and go “whoa!”

Because one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed (aside from having difficulties eating solid food, which is a subject for another blog) is that I’ve gone quiet. It’s not that I don’t want to talk–I do. I used to keep up long conversations with my cats or my horses, telling them how good they were, asking how they were, telling them that we’d get through this–whatever this might be.

Now, I simply don’t have the strength to open my mouth to speak. And worse yet, this exhaustion and the fact that I have to keep on going to work, doing the things that I need to do in order to care for the homestead and the animals, has reinforced some realizations I’d been coming to and has kept me in a cPTSD emotional flashback for days on end.

I don’t talk because I have a profound need to stay quiet, to remain unseen, to not put myself out there, because all of the dominos that toppled in the leading up to this burnout told me that my voice doesn’t matter. I don’t matter.

I say this in the interest of true honesty and transparency. If you look at a professional online and they’re always smiling and happy, then I guarantee you that there’s stuff going on that they’re not letting you see. They want you to see the IMAGE that they project, the smiling, happy Instagram perfect worthy person–not the real them. I don’t believe that’s accurate, and I don’t believe that’s authentic. So I am sharing this with you in the hopes that if you read this and it resonates with you, that you know that you’re not alone.

I’m using my silence to think, to contemplate about what kind of life I want to build — a life that I won’t get burned out from. I know how I got here. I’m not quite sure where to go from here, considering that some things like earning money to buy groceries and pay bills are nonnegotiable in our society, and I don’t have a support system or even a support person I can rely on in real-life spaces.

What I will do is listen to myself. I may not be able to talk some times (I do when I have to for my job, but otherwise I try to stay as quiet as possible), but I can listen. I’m asking myself what do I need right now in this moment. What do I need to heal? What do I need to move forward? And I’m silently asking the universe for it.

If you’re quiet, know that you, too, are being seen and heard. And that’s a gift that I’d like to grant to you.