A really long time ago, I read the book As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I haven’t read it since that really long time ago.
At the time I read it, though, I remember that I was a bit obsessed with death.
And at the time I read it, the profoundness of his empty space where a word should be, because the thing becomes the word, and the feeling is just so much more than the word, imprinted me.
And yet, years later, I did everything I could to find meaning in words. I used words to give meaning to the emotions and events surrounding me that I found troubling or exciting.
I had to.
Because words were my vehicle to get me from point A to point B.
Words told me what I knew. I think that comes from a quote by, someone, maybe Emerson. I can’t remember it for the life of me, but I remember feeling it when I read it.
It spoke to my soul.
That’s what I always thought words could do.
Every word I know feels like exactly what it is. A word. Letters strung together. The letter placements form a sound. The sounds create a word. And the word is supposed to mean something.
Put together with other words, they create a statement, a question, an expression. They are meant to give our emotions an outlet. Our thoughts are in words, and so they are meant to give a voice to our thoughts.
And so we say them. We write them. We think them. We keep them for ourselves, and we give them away.
I said them.
I wrote them.
I thought them.
I kept them for myself.
I gave them away.
Because I thought that meant something.
So even though I read As I Lay Dying, and even though I totally got that words “were just a shape to fill a lack,” I used them anyway. I clung to them.
Before I became The Destroyed, I allowed words to mean something.
I couldn’t be wordless, no matter how profound Faulkner’s ( ) was, and how much I knew it was true.
Before I became The Destroyed, a word was more than a word. It meant something. Each one meant something. When I wrote them, most times, I often intended for them to be craftily strung together, like well-placed pearls on a strand. I took my time with them to find the precise word; I searched for the word that would give a voice on paper to my thoughts.
They were chosen specifically.
Each one was deliberate.
Because I wanted every word I chose to connect to the word before and after in a way that made the thoughts in my head powerful. I wanted them to be intentional in order to make the thought–the thought that felt so important in that moment or second or mili-second–as authentic as my thought.
When I used the spoken word, they were most often spontaneous. They were sometimes hurtful because they were said straight from my head without filter through my heart. They were often awkward. They were very often trite.
Sometimes they created the exact expression I wanted to convey in that moment. But most of the times, they emerged out of my mouth before I was certain they were the particular, perfect words that existed in my head, and they were usually inadequate.
Before I became The Destroyed, words meant something.
Someone else’s words, written or spoken, meant something. They gave me laughter. They gave me hope. They brought me joy. They made me cry. The ones that meant the most, written or spoken, were always the ones who told me how I really felt, what I really thought, always reminding me of that maybe-Emerson quote.
They were the words that told me who I really was, even when I didn’t know. They were the words that put a new idea in my head, like a swarm of bees buzzing inside me, stirring me, tickling me, stinging me, teaching me, granting me new understanding, a better understanding, of my own self.
Those words gave me better words.
And I thought they all meant something.
I’m so sorry.
I’m praying for you.
I hope you know how loved you are.
If there is anything I can do, please let me.
Time is the only thing that helps.
You will always cherish the memories.
I am here for you.
I am sending hugs.
I think about you all the time.
A Bible verse: take your pick.
An inspirational quote: take your pick.
You will get through this.
All are good words. All are meaningful. All came from someone’s head, translated by someone’s heart. They come spoken. They come written.
And every single one bounces off of me like an arrow against a plate of armor.
Not one can penetrate.
Because words are just words to me now. Just letters that make a sound that, when placed together, form a word that has a definition that erects a statement, a question, an expression.
And they all are thoughts for me. Meant to help. Meant to heal. Meant to support. Meant to love.
But I don’t have any words.
I can hear those words. I know they are given to me with all of the intentions every single one of us have when we give them to someone we care about who is aching.
I do not diminish the intent behind them.
I just can’t feel them.
Because the words in my heart aren’t words.
They are guttural screams. They are yelps and they are whispers and they are explosions and they are whimpers. They are blank spaces of nothing.
My heart has lost the ability to form words. My head can, but the minute they escape my lips, they mean nothing, so I can’t say them. Because the minute I say them, they become letters that make a sound that, when placed together, form a word that has a definition that erects a statement, a question, an expression.
So I don’t want them said, because they don’t mean anything.
Only the sounds inside of me mean a thing, and they stay locked up because there is no place in this universe where they belong.
There is no one to translate. There is no interpreter….because he or she would have to use words.
And there aren’t any.
There aren’t any words, spoken, unspoken, written, said, yelled, screamed, stolen, immortalized, reproduced, given, believed, coveted, copied, that can give the sounds a definition.
There aren’t words to describe the sounds of the aftermath of a gunshot that should never have been.
There are no words.
There is just .