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The journal prompt: write about something left unsaid. Something I left unsaid? Something? Just one thing? To choose something, a thing, on which to focus feels like training my eye to a single grain of sand on a tempest ridden beach. In each moment, I feel I have it, and in the next I'm quite sure another has taken its place.

This is, perhaps, an impossible task, this choosing of a single thing left unsaid, a single tale from within the vast library. The things I've not spoken would fill not pages, but volumes, a set of volumes so vast and weighty as to sink the heart of the most valorous of door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen. Perhaps the best way to organize these unspoken words is much like an encyclopedic collection, with volumes filled according to themes.

Volume I: Don't Talk to Me Like That

This is a robust volume, featuring such headings as I'm Not Interested in Hearing Your Judgement and Don't Yell at Me. In Volume I the curious reader will also find Don't Talk Down to Me, My Feelings Are Valid, and the classic Don't Call Me Names. A most powerful entry, That's Abusive Language, leaves many readers uncomfortable.

In a collection of things left unsaid, it seems appropriate to begin with things unspoken in response to the speech of others, moments when another's speech was hurtful, yet I failed to produce an audible "ouch." This would indeed be a robust volume, though most of the entries are older. Middle age finds me more capable of speaking up in all areas, and using my words in the face of others' is no exception.

Volume II: Don't Touch Me

A volume packed with lovers and bar patrons, strangers and so-called friends. Volume II is ripe with the ways my voice failed my body. Here you'll find Don't Touch Me Like That alongside Don't Touch Me (T)Here, these entries sandwiched between Don't Touch Me At All and That Hurts. Readers may find Don't Touch Me Like You Know Me galvanizing, while I'm Frightened may be a more challenging read.

Here, too, the passage of time slows the frequency of entries. Many of the headings in this volume are so old that I can no longer recall their fine print, just a vague sense of uneasiness for the times in which I failed to voice the reality that my body is mine and mine alone. In more recent editions of the collection, you'll find a companion volume titled Please Touch Me: My Skin Feels Lonely.

Volume III: See Me

Here, dear reader, you'll find entries such as Witness My Work, Help Me Understand My Worth, and the provocative Stop Dimming My Light to Better Hide Your Darkness. The reader may have an easier time understanding the basic human nature reflected in Notice Me than the admittedly confusing entry Look At Me/Stop Looking At Me.

Here things left unsaid collide with things unseen by eyes not yet trained to look. I, most precious reader, have always been seen. What has not always been present is the ability to guide my gaze towards those who choose to see me, and to withdraw my gaze (and so many other things--see Volume IV) from those who aren't interested in looking.

Volume IV: We're Done Here

May I advise a back belt before lifting this volume? It is surely the thickest in the collection. Find entries here including Once Was Enough, This Is Not For Me, and I Deserve Better. Save I Don't Know Which Is Worse: Going or Staying for a long night with an open calendar. I Love You And I Cannot Be Near You will resonate with some readers, and others may see themselves in Call Me When You Work That Out.

Of all the things I've left unsaid, some form of "goodbye" tops the list. I am notoriously awful at letting go of humans. Cancel/clear/delete. I am constantly improving in my ability to let go of humans. This volume may require updates until I pass from this life. But one can hope not.

Volume V: Mea Culpa

Another volume with a declining number of entries, in these pages you'll find the classics I'm Sorry and That's On Me. There is tenderness to be found in entries like I'm Learning to Do Better and The Best I Had At That Time Wasn't Very Good. This is balanced by a decidedly tougher edge in pieces like I Can Own That, So That I Can Transmute it.

You may notice a bit of an odor attached to this volume. Not the familiar musty but lovable scent of old books. No, these pages carry the distinct reek of shame. Owning the uncomfortable bits, and even more so the bits that didn't get owned until it was too late, is odiferous business. If you catch a whiff of something pungent as you rifle through these pages, you may recognize the aroma. If it calls to you, perhaps you may ask where you can take responsibility and air yourself out.

Volume VI: Don't Be Shy

A thousand miniscule entries, foreshortened by their very nature. These things left unsaid are the stuff of paths never explored, doors never opened, stories never written. It will only take you a few moments to peruse We Would Make Great Friends, Let's Go to Bed Together, and You Inspire Me. Equally short but perhaps less pleasant to read, this volume also includes I Find You Challenging, You Make Me Nervous, and We Could Learn From One Another.

The easiest things to leave unsaid are those things one says to a stranger, or another human nearly as unfamiliar. There seems no consequence, nothing to gain or lose, and so no call for venture. But these are perhaps the most insidious of unspoken things, these opportunities which are never conceived, much less given birth. There is no calculation for what may have been lost here, giving these abbreviated tales an impact incommensurate with their length.

Volume VII: That's Mine

A collection of tales which could have been appended to Volumes I or IV, these pages hold the stories of sovereignty lost, the sagas of ownership unclaimed. Here you will find I'll Decide For Myself, alongside My Feelings Are Valid. The punchy Mind Your Own Damned Business is filed near the downright inflammatory My Inner Knowing is Closer to Me Than You Will Ever Be.

Everyone has opinions and mental filters that color their perception of the world around them. Some people understand the individual nature of these facets of humanity. Others, not so much. When the world shows up to color, categorize, and challenge my internal experience, I sometimes stand firm. At other times, things get left unsaid. Authors note: I find it less necessary to create new entries in this Volume when I choose carefully the humans with whom I share my internal landscape. Food for thought.

Volume VIII: Notes to Self

A hearty collection of the things I've been waiting to hear echoing in my own head. If you recognize any of these titles, dear reader, I invite you to read them aloud, reducing your own volumes of things unsaid. Between these covers the reader can explore I Love You Best, You Are Fucking Amazing, and My Most Sacred Commitment is To You(/Me). For an uplifting experience, be sure to check out You Are Worthy & Wonderful, Your Gifts are Powerful, and You Matter.

Pick up this volume often, as in this collection it is the one most often updated. It seems I am forever finding new things that I've said to others, but not to myself. Ditto for things I've wished others would say to me, but that I fail to speak in loving tones within the confines of myself. A healing experience from last fall suggests that this may, decades from now, turn out to be my magnum opus, the most significant work I will undertake in this lifetime.

Volume IX: Gestalt

In these pages it all comes together, every volume represented and adding into the whole that is infinitely larger than the sum of its parts. This is not a thing left unsaid; this is the thing left unsaid. These are the pages I am only just beginning to pen, the understanding that emerges on the heels of the myriad words drafted above.

If you hold this volume open, you'll be able to watch the words as they are written. They will come under headings like Oh, I See and I Thought I Understood Before, But I Think I Get It Now. In this volume, the exploration of the vital importance of everything left unsaid and how it informs my soul's journey. Herein, the realization that everything I wanted to say to others but didn't, everything I craved hearing but never received, contains the DNA from which my healing--to receive and to offer to others--will emerge. This volume opens with the earth-shaking entry (brilliantly illuminated by Volume VIII) This Isn't About Speaking Up; It's About Speaking In.

Volume X: Silence

An easy read, but no less profound for its paucity of letters, this volume contains thousands of blank pages filled with the resounding silence of nothing left unsaid.

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