Mute in Journal

  • June 12, 2019, 7:49 a.m.
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  • Public

Did anyone ever take interest in your thoughts, feelings and experiences as a child?
I can’t remember anyone asking me directly. I did often express myself in various ways- to which mom responded to or was sensitive to, but never directly. It was always later that I found that we might be able to make the beach this week, and it was without explanation. Nothing was ever communicated to me in a direct feedback fashion; and I was never listened to directly.
If I did have something to say, my input was mostly ignored, sometimes taken into consideration (inference from later behavior), or more often I was rebuked or corrected for it. Basically zero positive feedback; it was mostly neutral or negative. (when I say negative it was pretty brutally negative.)
It seems to me like I withdrew from the world around the age of 6, and never fully recovered.
I don’t remember anything about it, or the decision to withdraw. Like so many things in my life, it simply happened, and I merely noticed its happening.

I relate SO HARD to this guy on the call in show. (It’s a painfully awkward and slow conversation, be warned.) I used to be exactly like this.

If someone were to ask me a direct question, especially if I wasn’t expecting it, I would stare at them mutely for so long that they’d just raise a quizzical eyebrow and walk away. It’s not that I didn’t want to respond. It’s that I literally couldn’t respond. I would lament as they strode away… if only they’d given me more time… but now I’m not really sure that even time could’ve cured my petrified former self. It was a feeling of literal mourning. Mourning, I think, for the conversation and the self expression and connection with another human being that could have been, but was not.
Shaped by the too weird combination of an attentive, but emotionally distant mother, and an emotionally available but volatile father that I never trusted. It’s not that he was earnestly dishonest. No. He was simply unpredictable, and to the eyes of a child, unreliable. I remember being left outside school (this was before the age of chaperoning or cell phones) for 6 hours because he forgot to pick me up. And it wasn’t the first time. Utterly unwilling to admit fault or to apologize. You see to my dad, children are not people; they don’t have anything to say, and they certainly don’t have anything to complain about.

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