The Queen of My Self

—from Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life by Joan Chittister

“Remember, Joan, you can’t ever really run away from anything,” my mother taught me. “In the end, you only take yourself with you.” At that age, I thought the words were simply a trick of language. Maybe an outworn kind of witticism. It took years before I realized what she had not said, what she had failed to tell me, had instead allowed me to find out for myself. By that time I didn’t need to have someone else explain it to me.

I know now that whatever it is that is troubling us is not outside of us. It is inside of us. Rattling around. Mutter­ing. Waking a person up in the dregs of the night. Filling our dreams with specters and sweat. Echoing loudly in the emptiness within us. One great cacophony of internal noise that goes with us wherever we are. Always.

It is the call to our souls of the unfinished business of our lives, of the tensions we never lifted, the relationships we never resolved, the promises we never kept, the dreams we never achieved, the things we never became, the enmi­ties we never accepted. It is the question of how to live with all those things now that nothing can be done about any of them at all.

And yet, this noise in me is the voice of the Spirit calling me to attend to what I have long ignored or denied or forgotten. It is the challenge to face up to the unfinished business of my life. To resolve what I regret. To confront whatever it is that is blocking my ability to live a life free of consternation, alive with joy. Indeed, we can’t ever really run away from anything. We can only settle it or be harassed by it all the nights of our life. It is a choice we make that will affect the entire rest of our lives. It is the martial art of the soul.

Silence is the gift that throws us back on ourselves. Which is exactly why there are so many who cannot bear the thought of it. Without external distractions, we are left vulnerable to the voices within that demand that we come to grips with all the pieces of the self we have so carefully concealed. Beneath the smiles and frowns we use to protect ourselves from anyone who might get too close to the turmoil within us lies the noise of the soul that will not cease until we finally agree to hear it. It is the silent self that calls us to damp the noise that hounds us in the night, that calls us to responsibility for the authenticity of the self.

The truth is that internal noise is not meant to burden us. It’s meant to enable us to go on with new energy, new honesty and new hope. It is meant to dispel our confusions, to unknot their ties on us before we find ourselves entrapped in the past in ways that make a free and vigorous future impossible.

The choices are life-changing, yes, but internal noise indicates clearly that this life as we are living it now needs—somehow, some way—to be changed.


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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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