Be Silent, Child
July 28, 2017 4:17am CST
Here's a little bit of personal history. I never had a real dad. My biological was abusive, so the man who ended up being called "dad" was the stepdad who stayed the longest. That isn't to his credit, as he faked a disability (we know it was faked by his sudden recovery the day after Mom gave up and left his emotional abuse) to keep Mom around to pay for his hobbies. Funny how he couldn't work at anything, but could stand on his feet all day long and play music. But his lies and neglect are a story for another time. Today I want to focus on the earlier part of the relationship, before my sister and I knew he was lying. Before he proved to us over and over that he didn't really care for us. There was a constant throughout our whole relationship with him, immediately from wedding, through "disability", past separation and long past the moment my sister and I had grown enough to recognize the red flags. The constant was his music. He spent thousands of dollars on turning the living room and dining room into his own personal music studio. We lived on a generally quiet neighborhood, with only two exits onto the same street so no one used us to cut through to anywhere. He never soundproofed any of the rooms, but instead insisted we be absolutely silent too. I was about 7 years old when this began, my sister only 3. It wasn't terrible at first, as he hadn't used all our money to buy the equipment yet, so it was his guitar (then his keyboard) and general quiet. By the time we were 10 and 7, respectively, he had the more proper studio setup and the requirement for no sound. None. We would spend our non-school days hiding in our room, playing quietly to ourselves, not even together, to be unheard. Eventually, once he invested in a little computer, we might play quietly online, no sounds on, taking turns between being on the floor or at the screen. I would burn candles, or read. By middle school, I managed to get a cassette player and headphones, which helped. His lyrics were excellent, but he was increasingly terrible at playing them, and each day was a terrible repeat of the same troublesome sections over, and over, and over. He blasted it loudly, not often using headphones of his own. I drowned him out, and it was easier. Eventually that was switched up for a CD player, and between headphones and the internet we could pretend we were allowed to have more fun than we were really able. After all, if we wanted to go outside we might not be allowed back in because the door would be too loud. If we coughed or sneezed, we ruined his whole day's work. At that age, I just assumed that was life with a musician. I grew silent, as did my sister. Neither of us spoke much, or spoke out at all. Noise and crowds would bother us, and I was actually relieved when the equipment was stolen (though he got it back so quickly, it was still a nice break). I have a niece now, and I have to constantly remind my sister that children are supposed to laugh, to sing, and to narrate their games. I have to remind her, because she insists on silence. The sound bothers her, and she didn't get to be so loud, so it's a conscious effort to keep from inflicting on my niece the silence we learned. I'm still reclusive, and headphones with music are my soul's release. The computer houses many of my hobbies, and candles are still an entertaining friend. I've been working to speak more in groups, or simply in conversations, but it's a work in progress. On the plus side, people enjoy a listener, so it hasn't caused too many problems for me. I'm just quiet. Because noisy wasn't allowed. Noise wasn't allowed. Now I am quiet. Quiet, but finding my voice.
9 people like this
• Mangalore, India
28 Jul 17
Goes to show how important ones childhood memories s in personality formation. Reading your post makes me realize that you are intelligent and have come to terms with all the stress you underwent during your growing years. All the best to both of you and your niece.
• United States
28 Jul 17
Mom grew up with a history of abuse too, so it took her a long time to know she was being used because he never hit her. I don't blame her for not realizing it was bad for us mentally, and we didn't know it so we didn't have any way to voice it. Her relationship with us versus his is a topic I intend to write about in the future as it shaped me quite a lot.
• United States
28 Jul 17
Thank you. I'm working on it. My sister went through a rebellious phase, then settled back into quiet mode. I have a few friends working to keep me from going into recluse mode myself, for which I'm grateful. :) I'm better than I was, at least.
30 Jul 17
That is just plain awful, and I guess everyday is a struggle to keep reminding yourselves that talking and noise (as long as it is not xtreme) are both healthy in different aspects and levels. Children, especially the toddlers and pre schoolers, are the ones most talkative and loud because they want to speak out their minds and satisfy curiousities. That is just how they learn. It is extremely sad for you not being able to experience all that. Still, I consider you guys blessed because you were able to save yourselves and start a new life. Not many have that kind of strength and stay in that kind of life because of whatever fear they have.
• United States
31 Jul 17
Thank you. We were just really lucky that Mom made sure we had necessities, and that she provided us a place to escape once she had as well. She was also excellent about answering our questions, so between that and the internet we eventually caught up on most things.
30 Jul 17
I believe your Title says it all though i did not read your whole post it speaks of.. to myself just because you cant is the reason why you shouldn't or how i would put don't miss what you Never had to be absent of noise doesn't mean you cant be loud though this speaks aloud for it self in length,strength, and ease if i may commend.