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 Either she is clinically depressed and has withdrawn into her own safe shell behind the invisible barricades in her head or worse still she has been silenced.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.