Not stoic enough to be silent or aloof,  I am practicing saying and doing nothing in response to underhanded invitations to enter into indirect conflict.  While I
now set boundaries for only myself, without arguing to be heard, my abstinence from standard entanglement is labelled abandonment—“cutting them off”  because that is how silence is used in my family.  I just say No.  Or Sorry that won’t work until it no longer makes sense to say it again.

So, I have mostly quieted my mouth, but my head still spins with all the things I wish to say or stop feeling and thinking. Silence with a trusted other is golden.

I enjoy beautiful and sustained periods of silence with my sweet Greg and would not mind more silent closeness with my sons and without the aid of their iPads. I love when we are all reading or drawing or whatever and we all just peacefully think our own thoughts but are not alone with them.

“In my program, we learn to “think” before we react to angry outbursts and accusations.  We learn the value of silence.

But silence can be more cutting than cruel words when it’s used to punish. Deliberately ignoring someone’s attempts to communicate is no better than engaging in a battle of words. Rage that is expressed non-verbally– is still rage. When I seek to hurt someone else with silence or any other weapon at my disposal, I always hurt myself.”   From Al-Anon’s Courage to Change p 360

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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9 Replies to “Silence”

  1. There wasn’t any real physical abuse in my home growing up, but sometimes, I wish I wish my mother had just slugged me instead of giving me the silent treatment for days on end or laughing at me and my sensitive nature. Sounds awful, but I think it would’ve hurt less.

    Silence has been used in my family my entire life. My mother would be angry and refuse to talk about things or work it out. She would shun you, maybe make an occasional face or make sure you knew that what was happening (the silence) was all YOUR fault. You brought this on YOURSELF. Unless YOU apologized, even if you weren’t in the wrong, you were deleted. Unless she needed something or someone to meet her needs…the punishing silence (and this is/was a “punishment”) would continue without end. The criticism, sneering, contempt, unpredictable mood swings and then the inability to ever apologize for her behavior was/is astonishing.

    As a child, this was a confusing and abusive practice.
    And then when SHE was ready, she’d pick right back up where she left off, as if nothing had ever happened. Crazy-making.

    I know the difference between staying silent for reflection or even a separation from a person or situation. I did not talk to my parents for over 10 months in an effort to protect my mental health. I did not project hate or anger and I actually told them why I needed the separation. I didn’t just turn my back with no explanation. This was as healthy a detachment that I could practice. It is none of my business how they might feel about it.

    Silence is def. a double edged sword, used for good or evil. I think if your mental health is relatively stable, you certainly know the difference.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Deleted is the perfect descriptor for how silence is used in my family. Your story is painfully familiar. I am careful to not allow people I care for to feel deleted. I respond. I indicate when I cant take anymore and that I need space. With my boys, I tell them I need space but just until I can get myself together enough to where I can be calm and kind—because I have already or am losing it. Banishing is the final straw for when I am not coming back.

      In my family, it is as if they can CTRL X me and then when they are in the mood they can CTRL V. My sister’s last words to me were “You are welcome to join at any time, but I highly doubt that you will be able to function as a member of this family”…The irony of that sentence is not lost on me. Anyway, follow that with an invite to her annual hosted Christmas Dinner. and nothing in between but her rendezvous with my ex. It is too much. I will not be pasted back into her performance on cue.

      1. BWHAHAHAAAAA! “…but I highly doubt you will be able to function as a member of this family.”
        I love the inherent irony when someone renders a compliment they think is an insult. Rather than embarrass them, I look away until I can control my laughter.

        1. You have more composure and restraint than I, clearly…which is why I can not endure the antics. Like “Do not make fun of her for how awful she is, she cannot help it” So heroic! ahahaha

          Magda Gee

  2. My program tells me that God will do for me what I cannot do for myself. It has been so. Learning the difference between tranquil quiet and passive aggression came about because arguing started to make me physically sick. To preserve my heart rhythm, I had to withdraw from heated exchanges, which meant, for me, learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I can trust that my defense will come from a Higher Power in His way and in His time. I excuse myself from any conversation that is causing physical symptoms and I do come back at a later time and try to hear the person out whenever possible. But I no longer listen to tirades of anger and I no longer dwell in remorse when someone gives me the silent treatment. I take care of my heart.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I am still learning to take care of my heart. Somehow this feels forbidden. Maybe I am not doing right. Or maybe it is ok that it feels forbidden. I still get confused by the fact that causing displeasure is not the same as causing harm.

      Big Hugs!
      Thanks for stopping by and for communing.

    2. Paula,
      Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your ESH. Letting go of tirades and remorse in times of silent treatment. The tirades are easier to contain, I just don’t let them out of my mouth. If I do it is with a spiritual companion,not the person to whom it is intended. The silence, the non-response, non-acknowledgment causes me pain. I know that pain is a part of life AND that suffering is optional. I will get there. Together, with you, right here, one day at a time.


  3. Silence, I am now reminded of how silence is also a form of consent. Having been shamed, neglected, and abused while nobody spoke up– it seems like the impact of the trauma is exponentially greater.

  4. My sister’s last words to me in response to me inquiring on her choice to host the dinner with my ex-husband: ”You are a mean spirited bully-and always have been.
    Anytime you would like to rejoin our family gatherings and behave like a true member of our family, you can but I don’t have high hopes that you are capable of this.” Copied in an email to her daughters my mom and ex-inlaws.
    Totally uncontested. —And now an eVite from her to “Family Christmas”. I am concerned for the fallout when, for obvious reasons, I may not attend.

    How is it possible she comes after me without fear of reprisal and yet I have fear of saying NO or taking space and safety? WTF?

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