Headphones: An Explanation

You wonder why.

You might even ask me.

If you did,

I’d shrug or say, “Just because.”

Maybe you’d push and probe.

I’d just shrug again.


Because I don’t know how to tell you that they keep the noises at bay,

Keep me calm,

Let me do what I need without paranoia settling in,

Keep crushing silence away or mask the soft humming buzz in the room.

Because if I cannot hear it, surely it isn’t there.


How do I tell you I rely on them at home,

In the solitude of my room,

Volume turned up,

Head turned down?

That they drown out the sounds as they grow louder and louder,

The muffled bangs and screams, the thuds and crashes and breaks.

Still, they serve little comfort.

They cannot dampen the feeling of shaking walls or my thrumming heart.


How do I make you understand that they have become habit,

That they are part of me now,

That they are my shield against the world?

Without them, I am exposed.

I am naked.


Arms spread wide like wings in the face of danger

When all I want is to curl up into a ball and shrink until I disappear.

How do I make you understand that they don’t deprive me,

That I can see and hear past them?


You tell me to live without them.

You tell me to live in the moment.

But what has “the moment” ever given me,

But shaky hands,

An icy heart,

And a desire to flee?


You ask a knight to throw down their shield

And fight, untrained, with their rusted sword.


I hope you do not take offense

When I ask what burden they present to you,

When I refuse to dabble in a fool’s game,

When I refuse to throw myself onto a bed of thistle and thorns

Simply because you ask.