For When There Are No Words

Anedoche (n.): A conversation in which everyone is talking but no one is listening, simply overlaying disconnected words like a game of Scrabble, with each player borrowing bits of other anecdotes as a way to increase their own score, until we all run out of things to say.

You feel suffocated, buried under the avalanche of words that mean nothing, say nothing. Your chest feels compressed, and it is a curious feeling; like you could die there, buried under those words, your throat hoarse from screaming for help, your fingers and toes slowly going numb, the cold realization that no one is coming to pull you out dawning on you.

Anemoia (n.): Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. 

It strikes you most on Sundays, that sudden, sharp longing to be at a garden brunch: you, in a short, bright yellow dress, a glass of wine in your hand, surrounded by people and sounds; voices, babbling happily, glasses clinking. The sun is warm on your face, and all around you are people you have shared intricate, intimate moments with, people with whom you are irrevocably linked, and happily so. You feel as if you could sit in that garden forever.

Catoptric Tristesse (n.): The sadness that you’ll never know what other people think of you, whether good, bad, or if at all- that although we reflect on each other with the sharpness of a mirror, the true picture of how we’re coming off somehow reaches us softened and distorted, as if each mirror was preoccupied with twisting around, desperately trying to look itself in the eye.

When they talk to you, you search their faces for anything, anything at all, because you are desperate to confirm if they really like you, if you’re really friends, if this isn’t all an elaborate practical joke that will end with you curled up on the floor, their hard laughs hitting you like kicks. “You think you could ever be loved?”

Monachopsis (n.): The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place, as maladapted to your surroundings as a seal on the beach- lumbering, clumsy, easily distracted, (huddled in the company of other misfits), unable to recognize the ambient roar of your intended habitat, in which you’d be fluidly, brilliantly, effortlessly at home.

You constantly trip over your own feet, small, unseen ridges in the road, so they have taken to holding your hand when you’re crossing the road. “Pay attention.” But it is not you, it is the feeling of lightheadedness, of being lifted temporarily from your current situation, of looking down at the absurdity of it all. What are you doing here, really?

Opia (n.): The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable- their pupils glittering, bottomless and opaque- ad if you were peering through a hole in the door of a house, able to tell that there’s someone standing there, but unable to tell if you’re looking in or looking out.

It scares you, that one day you will have to look someone dead in the eye and tell them that you love them. You are afraid that your sincerity will not shine brightly in your eyes and they will not believe you, and they will back away slowly, fearfully, from this love which you have so carefully and painstakingly nurtured.

Soluplithy (n.): The sadly sobering feeling that no one really knows you; you are completely and utterly alone, in the midst of your friends and family, classmates and colleagues, acquaintances and admirers. Imagine, you are trapped behind a one-way mirror, looking out, but they are unable -or unwilling- to look in.

You feel this way often, like you could just up and disappear, and no one would notice.


All words but the last were taken from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, written by John Koenig. The last word, invented by me.


Full Stop


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