What quiet means

Once I was asked how I respond to fear. Do I run? Scream? Fight back?

The answer isn’t that simple.

I start quiet. At the top of a roller-coaster? My lips are pressed tightly together. Stumbled into someone who has gone off the rails, screaming slurs and sowing hate? My eyes widen, my body tenses, my hands tighten. I’m screaming inside. Unsure if someone who currently has a meaningful role in my life believes that oppression permeates all spaces, even the ones they control with the best of intentions? I enter cautiously, observe the distance between words and action, test if trust is merited.

Then I don’t give in. In a tight spot where I don’t feel entirely safe? First deep breaths, then a reminder that I am going to be okay because I can choose to prioritize my safety by seeking alternative spaces and asking for help. Had my purse snatched? Yup, I went after them (and got my purse back). Confronted with the hard pill of a friend’s denial? I push through my pain, swallow, and call in.

Finally, I heal. Through community. Through love. Through food. Through music. Through laughter. Through the resilience of those whose shoulders I stand on. Through naming what happened. Through setting healthier boundaries. Through doing the work. Through never accepting that things are okay, until no one feels fear. The world is no where near perfect but together, we can take the steps to move closer.

Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after.

Grace Lee Boggs

Published March 18, 2021. Edited March 20, 2021 to add a few more healing techniques.