unspoken – noun | \ˌən-ˈspō-kən\
: opposite of expressed in speech
Sometimes, when Monday rolls around and I need to choose a word of the week that encapsulates what’s happening around me, the things going on in my life are too sensitive and raw or so personal and intimate, I can’t write about them. I can’t even talk about them, and often, I don’t even want to admit them to myself.
As a blogger and personal essayist, what should I do? Much of what I write is culled from what goes on in these four walls and inside this one head. If I can’t write from my experience, what will I write about? Should I forge ahead and risk personal damage? Lay out my innermost thoughts and threaten my closest relationships? Blather on and hazard a few readers that are bound to bolt?
That’s what I sense some people do on blogs or other social media: they go ahead and write about their personal business as if the other people involved don’t actually exist or won’t recognize themselves in the status update. Other times, the details are so obscured that no individuals could be identified much less identify themselves. But then why bother to speak at all?
I’ve experienced something similar during church services or small group settings where people are sharing concerns they’d like the pastor or group members to pray about. Many people mention illnesses or job losses or wayward children. Often, a person will ask for prayer for a grieving family or a national tragedy. Occasionally, someone will raise a hand and, without a hint of irony, say, “I have an unspoken request.” In some circles, others will follow with “me, too!”
An unspoken request? What’s that all about? If we can’t say anymore, why say anything at all?
I suspect we say such funny things because otherwise, the rest of you may think everything is just fine, and that’s too much to live up to right now.
To be honest, “just fine” is too much to live up to most of the time. Instead of walking around just fine and expecting the same of others, shouldn’t we instead go ahead and assume we all have things we can’t talk about that are eating away at us? Shouldn’t we just assume that most of us are living bravely through some pain in our lives even if we aren’t sharing the details on Facebook? Don’t we know that behind every Instagram photo lies a disease or dysfunction or desperation that looks remarkably similar to ours? Even those political rants we’ve blocked from our news feeds are written by someone who probably would lift a hand and say, “Unspoken request, here,” if given the chance.
What we’ve got going on around here isn’t earth shattering or newsworthy or too terribly upsetting. We don’t think about it every day or worry about it every night. It’s not what you’re probably thinking, and it’s probably exactly like something you’re going through or have or will. And though it’s nobody else’s business, it’s keeping me a little unsettled lately.
I just thought you should know.
What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.
Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.