The price of silence can be a tremendous burden…one I will no longer — willingly — carry.
The Midnight Muse
Finally, tired, after a full day on the home front, I crawled between my cool cotton sheets hoping slumber would be swift in claiming me for the night. But nope, thoughts swirled in my head and like pesky mosquitos dived bombed my brain. Words and sentences came and went until I understood they would not relent until I gave them form. In defeat, and with a grunt, I pulled the sheets back, marched to my laptop and powered it on.
I pounded with much gusto on my keyboard until — satisfied — the midnight muse let me know all was said and she released me from her clutches.
The clock read close to 1 AM.
What was so urgent, I had to write it now?
Nothing new really. Random thoughts about relationships and how to maneuver through them.
I do not like confrontation.
I would prefer problems go away if I ignore them long enough. Except, this method isn’t always practical nor is it always wise. I understand there is a time when “just keep your mouth shut” is wisdom incarnate. In these cases, — even if we have to physically tape our clapper shut — silence can be golden.
Alternatively, I also believe there is a time when the code of silence must — and should — be broken without reservation. However, at times, the gumption to do so doesn’t come easy.
Moreover, making the distinction between when to speak and when to remain quiet is far from simple, at least for me.
There are consequences either way.
Yes, in perfect honesty, there have been times when I lost my cool and spoke my mind. Hot-headedness plagued me far more often in my youth.
When I see injustice — or what I perceive as a wrong — it becomes challenging for me to remain neutral. I was in such a situation recently.
I become fierce when those I care about are mistreated or wronged, and everything rises in me to say “NOT on my watch.” “No way no how.” “The buck stops here and now.”
This approach may be perfectly acceptable when talking about the weak — for instance, small children. It becomes a far harder decision when talking about adults with the freedom to make their own choices.
In truth, I welcome choices. Nevertheless, my conscience nags at me when I feel those having to make those choices 1) do not hold a full deck (as in they do not have the big picture and are missing some cards) and likewise, 2) they have a rigged deck, or 3) both.
A few weeks ago, I lamented the hardships of human relationships. I often wonder if hermits haven’t found the pearl of wisdom.
Let’s all become hermits.
No interactions no problems.
Except…there are some individuals I would not want to live without and herein lies a significant hurdle to hermithood.
One one hand, I can’t say I want to be a recluse to avoid relationships’ less than savory consequences when on the other hand, I want to take Bob, Mary, Jane, Cynthia and a slew of other people with me. As much as I love these people, the guarantee is there will be conflicts, for this comes with the territory.
Basically, I don’t want to become a solitary human. I simply want relationships to be easier. However, since this pipe dream will only occur when pigs fly, I am not holding my breath on this one.
The Magic Solution
Aside from hermithood, my preferred solution to relationship woes is to straighten my tiara, start wearing my undies on the outside, buy a cape, and dust off my non-existent magic wand while belting an abracadabra…and pouf…all the annoying people would be “fixed.”
This quick fix also contains a significant caveat. To someone — or a lot of someones — I am probably THE bee in their bonnet, and I would not take kindly to being magic wanded to kingdom come because someone found me annoying.
What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander and all that jazz.
So, like you, I am left to navigate relationship-land with its landscape full of landmines as well as the occasional manure pile. But boy oh boy, the scenery from this harsh and challenging land can also be the most breathtaking and magical of all. Hence the reason we don’t all pack our bags and find ourselves a cave.
Today, I had a decision to make along this line of “to speak or not to speak.”
The Price of Silence
Each option had pros and cons and I had mulled over every single one in my head. Teeter-tottering between yeah and nay.
Silence is more comfortable in many instances. It is hard to catch a lot of flack when you don’t make a peep. There is wisdom in that for sure. I don’t really take kindly to having a bit fat target on my back. The “don’t rock the boat policy” has its adherents for sure. I — for one — have never been offered a membership to the club. Even if I manage to control my tongue — which surprisingly isn’t too hard — I can’t be fake, and my body language is sure to rat me out.
At this juncture, I felt that my silence could very well mean people I genuinely care about could become the infamous frog in a pot. You know the story: Place a frog in a pot, place the pot on the stovetop, turn the burner on, wait long enough, and you have a dead frog, none the wiser that he has been cooked.
Abuse and the Price of Silence
When we think of abuse, we usually think of physical abuse or overt emotional abuse. Behaviors we can sink our teeth into because they are so obvious. A punch in the face is pretty indisputable.
Some cunning individuals employ less direct techniques, such as manipulation robed in “love”, which isn’t so obvious….especially to the “weaker” or more naive members amongst us.
Trust me; I know this all too well as I was once weak and inexperienced.
Abusers can be very good at their craft for they hone them on easy preys over many years.
For instance, recently, a young woman — when approached by a loving family member — who pointed out the very manipulative behaviors of one of those “it’s because I love you” crowd — blurted with “oh wow, I thought I was losing my mind.”
She was living in a new environment. One in which all those around her told her there were no issues or that she was THE issue. In time, what felt odd and wrong became the new standard, and appeared normal. That is until an outsider was able to say “there is nothing normal about this situation.”
Manipulators are good at blaming you, twisting things around, pointing the finger in another direction, reframing the events to suit them, using guilt and shame to buy your silence, all while making it look like they are doing you a favor.
After weeks of debating, praying, and literal crying, I hit a brick wall. I finally decided not on my watch.
I shall call a spade a spade.
My intent was not to control or play the “he said she said game.” Neither was I intent on flinging mud, pointing fingers, or anything vile and negative.
I had three very clear goals:
Profess my absolute unconditional love. Nothing would ever change that. Nothing. No one. Not hurt or disappointment. NOTHING.
Declare I was not blind to the tactics of a specific individual and that the regular treatment of their family members was not in any way normal although it was accepted as such by beings who knew nothing else.
I needed those I love to know I was not blind and I was not fooled. Moreover, I was watching and the Manipulator already knew that well. The rants and raves they had displayed behind closed doors, their avoidance of me, and the trash talk behind my back only proved that.
Their toddler-like fits and verbal arrows left me unmoved, however.
Move over, I am passing through.
However, I also wanted them to know I knew…that I watched…that pain inflicted on those I profoundly care about would not go unnoticed — or unspoken.
I wanted to explain that love implies freedom and respect. Anything else, while it may be called love, is not love but a fake and poor imitation. Those who genuinely love, do not turn the center of their devotion into puppets.
I wanted to speak truth and set the record straight. I was not going to let an abuser spin a story to fit their sick narrative.
Silent no more was my motto.
I wanted to give my message once and then leave it at that respecting the choices of my loved ones. I would continue to love no matter their choices. However, I was not one who would be intimidated. There is a reason abusers do not go after the strong. No, the cowards prey on the weak.
I must admit I have never been confronted by this person…not once. The rowdy fierce and smart-Alecky part of me would welcome such a situation. I would not accept their screaming lunatic shaming behaviors. I would not cower in fear. I am not a child without recourses. Or, a young person afraid.
Neither am I someone they have so badgered for years I no longer know which end is up. Moreover, this individual knows this. So, they spin tales to sway vulnerable minds.
In hindsight, I believe — in carefully writing my letter — I achieved my goals.
The Price of Silence: Consequences
Before doing so, I fully understood the possible consequences of my rebellious act. I knew I had kicked the proverbial hornets’ nest and that, as a consequence, I could be ostracized by the very persons I wanted to protect.
I am okay with that.
Not wanting events to turn out this way.
But, nonetheless, okay and at peace.
I am serene because I understand those I love I have the right to their choices whether I like them or not. I can love from afar just the same. My love will not change. It is unaffected by their decisions.
My feelings are another matter entirely.
The thing is… I have hope.
Hope that the truth will come out, and that love will prevail. The fairy tale loving me hopes the manipulator’s reign soon comes to an end. That, the prisoners will be released to become all they can be.
Either way, I will be okay.
I have stood in integrity, truth, and love. I can live with myself.
A Difference of Opinion
My twenty-year-old son said I should have remained silent because I was not directly involved. I pondered his view, and I almost regretted my actions.
Except, I have been the Victim in situations where if one person had mustered the courage to speak up, I might have had the courage to make a different choice. Their silence sealed mine as well, and left me to a fate which caused me much pain. In hindsight, at the time, I told myself I would not remain silent in the face of injustice and wrongdoing.
I Don’t Need Followers
I was not trying to gain apostles today. I wanted to speak love and truth. Maybe — in complete honesty — to plant a seed of doubt. I wanted my loved ones to know…if you see “blank,” and you feel in your gut it is odd and abnormal, I see it too, and you are right…it is not okay. Love is not this…you know love…and you KNOW it does not look like this.
I have asked myself over and over…how can they not see?
Then, I remembered working with domestic abuse victims. These abused women’s world was misshapen over time to the point they too could have blurted “I thought I was going crazy!”
You see, humans have two irrefutable needs: one is to be loved, and the other is to belong. Manipulators are willing to withdraw both if you don’t tow the line…and for most of us, this emotional and physical isolation is more than we can bear.
Feeling alone and without a tribe leaves many willing to compromise everything just to be welcomed back into the fold. Fake love is better than none at all. An unhealthy tribe is better than hermithood.
Oh yes, some humans are that cunning.
Spiders….spinning a web,
My last message is this: my loved ones KNOW that they know that I love them and that there will always be a safe place “here.”