Anyone who knows Mama G. knows she loves to talk, she loves to reach out, communicate …  In fact you can’t shut her up and she has this annoying habit of butting in mid-sentence.

So when Mama G is silent, lost her voice, this is not a good sign.  It is bad, very bad.  Either she is clinically depressed and has withdrawn into her own safe shell behind the invisible barricades in her head or worse still she has been silenced.  Sounds rather alarming and dramatic as if my tongue had been cut off or a gun is put against my head or my family threatened if I dared breathe a word.

Silence like a thief in the night crept upon me unawares; being ignored, my opinions, feelings dismissed, unacknowledged, worse still ridiculed and so the brainwashing began, the drip drip daily effect convincing me I was not worth being heard.  Later it became that I was paranoid, over-anxious and quite possibly insane.  How I felt and thought were not based on reality, truth.  I suffered from depression, a mental illness, so could my emotions, opinions and concerns be rational and valid.

The man I was married to and loved, the father of my child kept pointing out my faults, imperfections in an attempt to create a better me.  He was doing it for my own good.  If he didn’t care why would he bother?  After all he wasn’t doing it to his friends or family.  He must love me so much and what he said must be true otherwise why would someone I trust with my life and for whom I would take a bullet for without hesitation do that?

So I shut up.  I swallowed my true feelings, what I wanted, what I needed and never opened my mouth to express them because I was thinking and feeling wrong.  In fact I was wrong; there was something very wrong with me and it was his job to save me, to show me the error of my ways.

It was also too much of an effort, exhausting to have to fight your corner every single time over the most trivial of things and of course there was also the harmony of the family, keeping the peace to consider.  I was always the one to say sorry first whether I believed I was right or wrong.  The family was my world, was what gave meaning to my life and what made me; wife and mother above all else.  It could not be broken at any cost, even if it meant losing my identity in the process, although it was never such a conscious decision or thought.

The need to fill the bottomless void of a sense of belonging, of loving and being loved, being accepted, being validated and having a specific role in life that gave meaningful to my existence superseded everything.  Yes in the end without realising I lost my entire self not only my voice.

In spite of my superhuman efforts the family was demolished and matters were taken out of my hands.  Loss registering on the Richter scale.

But everything has a flip side, everything, no matter how dire.  The opposite of loss is gain.  Stripped of everything and I mean everything there was nobody but me.  I found me again because there was nothing else.  I rediscovered the use of my voice because now there was no one to tell me to shut up or mock what I had to say.  Nobody to make me feel stupid for feeling the way I did or that my emotions were somehow wrong, irrational, invalid.  That I was being paranoid, crazy, difficult, sick.

I gained freedom.  I could sing at home, out of tune, it didn’t matter, it made me happy.  I gained happiness, freedom, a rare feeling of being comfortable in my own skin, of not feeling on edge, on permanent defensive mode, ready to do battle against verbal attack and put downs.

Finally I could give it a name: emotional abuse, a form of domestic violence.  I never in a million years thought I was a sufferer.  I was never punched, kicked, slapped, had my hair pulled or knocked to the ground.  Nevertheless abuse it definitely was just not physical but it poisoned my mental and emotional well-being and affected my health.  Frustration and anger turned within became clinical depression.  We all know mind-body spirit are interconnected.  Maybe it weakened my immune system too and allowed the cancer cells to run riot not once but twice, who knows.

With huge loss comes tremendous gain and a tough old bird is born, broken wings healed ready to soar the heights beyond the clouds into yonder blue.

About cho wan yau

Teacher by day poet/writer by night. Words have been my first love and will be my last. As a child I locked myself into the toilet devouring books which transported me to distant lands. Poetry shared penned from 2009-2010 in a titanic struggle to stay sane at Heartbreak Hotel. Please check it out on chowanyau@wordpress.com. Any comments or feedback welcome. Why not share your story with me, because we all have one, don't we?

Posted on October 10, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Emotional abuse is damaging, like physical abuse, but perhaps more confusing. If someone says he loves you but it does not feel like love, that is confusing and unhealthy. I had a secretary for several years who was married to an abusive husband. I believe in marriage vows, but it is not a marriage anymore when it is destructive. My secretary died at age 40, from liver disease. I did not even know that she was an alcoholic, as she was a “functioning” one. When she no longer worked for me, she came to me to represent her in a criminal case — assault with a deadly weapon. The alleged assault was on her husband, who had broken her eardrum and when she went to call the police, stabbed himself. The cops arrested her. Eventually, we won the case, but I am still angry that she was so victimized by him for the 16 years they were married.
    You deserve better than the husband that you endured.

    • Thank you for caring and taking the time to reply. Yes I do deserve better and no he wasn’t worth my love or my tears. I know this now with the help of time and distance and a hell of a lot of pain and heartache. I dropped my glasses when I fell in love, as did all the women in my family. The worse thing my mum ever did was to fall in love with my dad. I witnessed as a kid my dad banging mum’s head against the headboard and running into the kitchen to get a cleaver and threatening to kill her when she confronted him with his infidelity. I swore I would never stand for it and would take my kids away; little did I know that I would be the victim of emotional abuse, just another form of domestic violence, but not so well publicised and not so obvious.

      The irony is he dumped me, ended the abuse, the prison guard got bored, unlocked the cell, yet I begged to stay, kinda pathetic huh?

      The story of your secretary is tragic but alas all too common. I bet she was a nice person too. I am convinced the abuse and stress from his irresponsible use of money caused my breast cancer the first time at 36 and again at 45 and my recurrent depression. I had to go it alone with chemo the second time in 2007 as he was conveniently having a nervous breakdown. Two years after chemo I almost died from breathlessness; it had damaged my heart and now I am on meds for life. I’m lucky to be alive.

      The lasting damage is I am afraid to love again, I don’t believe I’ll survive that degree of pain and hurt again and I’ll never trust unreservedly wholeheartedly like I did. I hate him for robbing me of that purity, innocence, belief that the world is a good place full of people who mean you no harm.

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