The above quote is more than thought-provoking to me. It summarizes why I write in the fashion I do, the household I was raised in and why I was the way I was, outside of that household growing up.
This is not an article about the man who originally said it, his politics or viewpoints. Though I acknowledge, some will likely see his name and read no further, that’s fine.
I often have things to say, many disagree with. This applies not only to readers but editors, employers, administrations, higher-ups, as well as my own family and friends.
So much went unspoken in the house I grew up in and throughout my extended family. I believe this is what primarily led to me being as outspoken as I was growing up especially, and still am to this day.
There were so many things I wanted to say at home but was afraid to and made to feel I wasn’t allowed to. They were things we simply didn’t talk about or discuss. Emotions being one of them. We hardly expressed emotions, outside of pent up anger, anyway.
My Father would let every little thing I did that bothered him go unspoken, bottle it all up until it all finally couldn’t be contained — and then explode in anger over something trivial.
Let me be abundantly clear, I was never hit or threatened with violence or anything of the sort. Though, sometimes I think I might’ve preferred that over the tension all of the lies our silence created. To a kid who constantly felt the need to express exactly how he felt about everything going on around him, the silence became unbearable.
Family holidays were no better, nor were visits and phone calls with my Mother. I’d overhear one Aunt or Uncle completely trashing and criticizing another family member when they weren’t around — and then watch them go completely silent when that person entered the room.
Or even worse, smile in that person’s face and welcome them with open arms.
To me, there was no higher crime than this. It was the ugliest kind of fraudulent and the worst brand of betrayal there was. I hated it and still do.
I understood it though. These people often felt they were doing the right or politically correct thing. The alternative would’ve been to confront the source of their dismay or concern directly, and how could confrontation be the right way to go about their business? What would others think and what if things got ugly?
In my opinion, ugly is not expressing how you feel about a person’s actions or behavior directly to them but then speaking on it to others as soon as they leave the room. It’s not honorable or politically correct, it’s cowardly and toxic.
Though admittedly, all of the above was hard learned behavior to break. It’s still the way much of my family operates, unfortunately. I find it not only disappointing but also unhealthy. Unhealthy for the relationship between person A and B — and detrimental to the mental and physical health of the person who has so much to say but isn’t saying it to the person they should.
I’ve seen firsthand how these things manifest. They result in bouts of rage, anxiety, depression, reclusiveness, and even strokes and heart attacks.
The unsaid internally eats away at us and feeds on our vitals. It ruins once perfectly good relationships, that could have been saved with a single ten-minute talk, or even a two minute somewhat heated exchange.
While constant confrontation is no way for a happy family to conduct itself, neither is passively-aggressively shutting others out, for reasons they don’t even understand. If something a loved one does bothers you and you can’t so much as bring yourself to confront them about it, then you have no right to speak about it to others either. If you choose the lie of silence, then the least you can do is remain consistent in that unhealthy choice.
It baffles me how families can opt to suffer in silence and watch one of their own kill themselves with drugs and alcohol or otherwise ruin their lives, instead of simply sitting that person down and saying things they may not want to hear.
I speak from experience, as one of my Uncles advertently took his own life after more or less being shut out by my entire family due to his excess drinking, constant drug use, and overall behavior.
While he likely would’ve never listened or changed had one of us confronted him about his issues, it’s incomprehensible to me that none of us tried.
We would’ve at least had the comfort of knowing we did our part.
As much as I hate the lies in the silence I was raised in, I acknowledge it’s probably largely responsible for both why and how I write. I had to find an outlet for all I had to say but felt like I wasn’t supposed to or allowed to.
A form of expression, where nobody could try and silence me before I was finished saying anything and everything I had to say. My writing equates to a half of a lifetime of things I had to and should’ve said, but sadly never did.
There are plenty who disagree with what I have to say and some may even hate the opinions and thoughts I express in my work. I’m okay with that.
Having others hate me for what I have to say is better than hating myself for never having the courage to express all of it, like so many others.