Fatigue, Pain and Quiet

I needed a break from my blog, but I miss writing. I miss continuing the book that is my work-in -progress. I feel so brain dead much of the time. Actually, I hear my coherent thoughts, ideas and inspiration, but mostly don’t have the energy to execute them in a way that’s all that interesting. I decided to write short vignettes for now. I want to write. I need to write.

I’ve been reading a book called, “Encounters with the Invisible,” by Dorothy Wall. In a chapter entitled, “Silence,” she shares her reaction to reading a biography about an English poet, Christina Rosetti, who died of cancer in 1894. Wall writes:

… before she [Rosetti] died of cancer in 1894, alone in her London home, she was heard screaming in agony. The language of pain may be preverbal, but it is volcanic.


I’m disturbed by the thought of those cries … That she no longer had the personal strength to funnel her personal pain into literature. …Rosetti had already fallen beyond the realm where language mattered. She had already reached the absolute habitation of body in which the common tools of speech are rendered useless. This seems the saddest to me: that for a poet so devoted to language, in the end her pain should have overwhelmed her words … that she had come to a place where language stopped.

Maybe it’s not so much that there is no language, as that access to language is closed down. The storms of the body blank out language. … In pain, we slide away from language, and to reclaim our self is to move back to that place where we can speak.

Fortunately, I am in much better health than what is described in Wall’s book, but I relate to the blanking out of language, at least on my bad days. This extends particularly to verbal language. Depending on how I feel, a telephone call can wipe me out. People drain me. Solitude exerts no pressure to be witty, insightful, empathetic, or even to listen. I listen, but on my own terms. I listen to the sound of birds and feel comfort. I listen to my body telling me to rest. To withdraw.

I hear my neighbor shuffle by my window to take out the trash. On a bad day, the scuffing of shoes against the pavement is as shattering glass. Another neighbor shouts into his cell phone while on the way to the laundry. I hear, but don’t want to listen.

I love when it’s so silent that I hear the wind blow; the way it rustles the leaves, teeming with life.

On a bad day, I need quiet. My own and that of others. Only nature seems to know how to whisper and heal.


  1. Good job, Eileen!
    Good words, true words.

  2. The Accidental Amazon says:

    Eileen, I so wish that you were not having to suffer through this, but you are wise to listen to yourself and pay attention to what you need. I very much relate to the need for large swaths of quiet. I need a lot of silence myself in order to cope with the day that cannot be quiet. And yes, listening to those beautiful sounds that nature makes when we are able to hear them, and only them, that refresh the soul. I am glad you are writing what you can, when you can. Hugs. xoxo, Kathi

  3. The trees of the field will clap…

  4. Even your snippets of prose are worth waiting for. Be well,

  5. Stop it! Your writing is beautiful, as always, but why are you so weak? Would speed help? It is not time to take comfort from silence!!!!!! with love, Amy

  6. I know what you’re talking about, I get ideas, but the energy to write them down or type them up eludes me. So, I write short posts and it’s so very satisfying when I do.

  7. Eileen, it’s nice to see you back. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and tired a lot for the last few months, and unlike you, I haven’t listened to my body. It’s always a good idea to recharge and take the time you need to heal. Connecting with nature is in itself therapeutic. Peace and quiet is also the route I like to take when I am having a difficult day. It’s important to be kind to yourself, which you’re already doing.Take the time you need but know that you’re missed in blogosphere. xo

  8. Powerful words. Keep writing!

  9. Even when you’re feeling drained physically and emotionally, your writing is still head and shoulders above what others crank out on the internet every day. Good to hear from you again, Eileen!

  10. Hi Eileen! I noticed your blog and I greatly appreciate the stories you are willing to share with others. You are an incredible writer and you share very powerful words. My name is Ryan and I’m currently a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI working on a project called CancerEd. My team and I are developing curriculum materials to teach children about cancer in an interactive but scientifically accurate way. We are looking to send out a survey to parents who have had cancer to better understand how they communicate with their children about cancer and we would love your help with this! If you could email me at rdt5@students.calvin.edu, I would love to give you more information about the survey and about our project. Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks!

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