The hardest word.
I’m not a particularly loquacious person. I like to sit back and watch the action happen. I interject when I feel it’s needed but I love to people watch. But, when I have something to say, the words come.
Family trouble with many in my family usually means the silent treatment. Stubborn bouts of long held silence are used to teach the other party a lesson. Nothing says I’m ticked at you quite like saying nothing at all. Ha!!
The silent treatment used to hurt me deeply. Think bamboo shoots under the fingernails while white hot pokers are shoved in my temple hurt. It was painful. Anxiety and bone-deep sadness would cloud my every thought at the mere whisper of someone’s displeasure with me.
It was so mentally painful that I would apologize for whatever was going on regardless as to whether I was at fault or not. I spent a ridiculous amount of time apologizing for things I did not do. The words “I’m sorry” fell from my lips quicker than a 90s rap lyric.
Recently, enough became too much. It felt as if an apology was automatically expected because, let’s face it, that was my m.o. Something happens, just wait she’ll apologize and try to fix it. She can’t stand having anyone mad at her. She’ll cave.
Imagine the shock and surprise when I didn’t. Suddenly, my silence is taken in. The expectation wasn’t met. I didn’t do what they’d expected. Shock!
I look at myself as a work in progress. I am constantly discovering the reason behind my reactions to the world around me. I’ve learned and grown. Just ask the hubby! In that growth, I’ve learned that my people-pleasing had gone too far. The automatic expectation that I would cave and apologize when I wasn’t in the wrong finally pushed all the buttons.
The longer I refused to bend to the will of manipulation, the louder the silence. However, it used to be filled with hand-wringing and teetering on the line between standing firm and apology. No more.
Why? I am at peace with my decision and my reaction to the situation that brought on the silent treatment. I did nothing wrong. I refuse to be treated as though I am wrong for standing up for myself.
An apology may never come. I can’t control the actions of others. Only my reaction. And my reaction, live my life with joy because no day is promised. And my joy, well, that’s louder than any silence tossed at me.