Ghosts in the Silence

After writing the entry,  On what is “better”… I had another flashback, where I was pulled into the campus chapel from recess and forced to give oral sex to a priest while in my school uniform.  Since unlike in my family, these incidents were in a public place where many other people could have been put in the same position, I decided to do some research.  Eventually I found out that this school (and the others in the wider catholic school district I was briefly enrolled in) did have a serial pedophile priest in attendance who preyed on countless students with impunity.  I found a blog by one of the survivors, who described his own experiences and how he had been contacted by many others abused by the (dead) priest.  I got another little fragment of a flashback and a mixture of frightening feelings when I saw a photograph of him.  So I sent an email to this blogger briefly describing what I had remembered and asking him if he had any precise information on whether this person was present at my school in that year (since the timeline he presented was vague) and whether he had heard from anyone in my timeframe of attendance.

That was over three weeks ago, and he never responded; however I did, in a big way.    Not receiving an answer brought up many old insecurities.  I started to read into it that he must have thought my flashbacks so absurd and delusional as to not even be worth responding to.  Or perhaps that he didn’t consider my experiences to ‘really’ be abuse at all.   And yet at the same time, I was waiting for his response.  I realize now that I’m very familiar with being caught in the trap of waiting.  Many times in my early life, big, but empty promises were made to me, and soon forgotten by my parents.  But I have an extremely strong memory; I didn’t forget, and I was hurt when nothing came of them.  I was manipulated this way by others too, such as my high school principal who repeatedly dangled a false hope in front of me that denied me both closure and the ability to assess what my options really were.

In this case I of course hoped for some additional validating information. There is no reliable person from my childhood who I can discuss anything with, so it did hurt that this avenue didn’t lead anywhere.  However, I see that I don’t necessarily need it, I’m a reliable person and my body has more knowledge about my childhood then anyone else ever will.  What I said in my last entry is even more true already; my mother wanted to send me to an institution where vulnerable young boys were being beaten by teachers and sexually abused by an out of control pedophile priest, and all out  of punishment and moral hatred for something that my sister did.  She was the delusional one.  She was also the person who taught me to read complex judgments from silences, because her silence always carried with it a message.  She refused to communicate directly and honestly with me, but played games, withholding actual communication even if she spoke, by cloaking information in little barbs that served to punctuate the silent treatment.

In my mother’s silences, there was rejection, there was a whole nightmare of swirling hatred, judgments, concealed criticism, and ignorance.    Twenty years of dealing with that (and of course other toxic relatives, like my sister, who took up that operating system as well) and it became my default.  Even when I chose really wonderful friends for myself, I always read these things into their silences.  Today I know, that sometimes I don’t respond to a message just because the conversation seems to be finished and I have nothing else to say, or I’m too busy or for a wealth of other reasons that have only to do with me.  I’m sure it is the same way with others, including this blogger I wrote to.  I try to respond as a rule, though, especially if it involves leaving someone else hanging.  Of course there are people out there who would slight me, who would ignore me out of dislike or disgust.  But that isn’t everyone, and if they really do feel that way about me, then I don’t want them in my life anyway?

I put a question mark at the end of that sentence because I’m not sure if I’ve really put that into practice throughout my life.  I’ve wanted acceptance, companionship, and it has hurt when that doesn’t work out, and I’ve wound up alone again.  It made me think it was my fault, and motivated me to try change myself in many wrong and impossible ways.  I wasn’t motivated back then to consider that I might be looking towards the wrong people, and maybe that is what needs to be changed.    I know that today unless there is a strong reason to believe otherwise, if someone has told me that they do like me and want to be in my life but are just busy, then I want to try to trust in that and not fall back into the old, toxic cycles.   If someone doesn’t respond, then they just don’t; the blank doesn’t need to be filled in by the ghost of my mother.

Waiting on someone else, primarily when it comes to my own healing, is not a situation I want to be in again.  As I dissociate less, my life is less episodic now, and the feelings of one moment aren’t completely lost in the next.  But still, I want to focus on validating myself and working by my schedule, not someone else’s.


About proudlysensitive

Gay male survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
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2 Responses to Ghosts in the Silence

  1. Angie Sim says:

    Thank you for your post.

    Early this year, I made a decision to break off from a so-called friend. It was a one-way, one sided relationship, its about when she would call the shots, when she will reply to my messages, when she will respond…. because, in her own way, she has made it known to me that she has all the qualities that people have come to respect and admire. She wil keep me waiting for her responses. I think anyone with sufficient self-esteem and self-love will recognise that this is another form of bullying, and I am, for once, not going to accept it.

    I know what its like to be kept waiting. The title “Ghosts in the Silence” is so apt. I have struggled and am still struggling to grow out of the emotionally abusive family that I grew up in, it has not been an easy path to healing. But the further I journey into healing, the clearer it is to me, that those who deliberately keep people waiting are the ones with disorders. Any normal healthy physical and emotional person, who genuinely care for others, will not do that. They do not need to validate their superiority and self-worth by having others “wait” on them.

    • Thank you Angie. I know what you mean, I’ve had friendships like that too. Good for your for ending it. My sister also used to instruct me to write her an email saying how I was doing, and then she wouldn’t respond or acknowledge my letter in any way. She did this over and over, It left me feeling vulnerable and rejected. But you’re right, she was the really sick person. Healthy relationships aren’t like that–they don’t involve the other person feeding off you when it’s convenient for them and then leaving you in the lurch when it isn’t.

      take care,

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