“I did not enter into silence. Silence captured me.”
— Ezra Pound, from Selected Letters
I remember a time in my early life when my father would grab my jaw in a strong grip hold and flick his heavy fingers against my mouth. I remember in 3rd grade when a strict teacher wanted absolute silence in her classroom and she had caught me whispering and proceeded to grip me by the jaw with one hand putting her angry face across me then froze for a only a mere moment. It lasted for no more than second but I caught the change in her face. I could tell she was about to tell me off but something had stopped her. In her quick cruel hold, my face had immediately tensed visibly, my eyes shut so hard, and my mouth clamped shut in a thin line. She took a step back and gave me a warning.
My early life wasn’t easy. There was a wild flurry of changes happening to us and most of my family had found it difficult. Hence, from the childish ears of mine, all I could ever hear was complaints, harsh words, and palpable strained silence. We were barely making it through the damage of the wild changes that there was no room for love, nurture, or even words of affection. There were only apologies and regrets.
Soon enough, when I could finally speak, I had learned the language of violent outbursts. It was blunt, straightforward, and cutting like I have always heard. But unlike my mother who was treated by my father with patience and understanding, I was punished for it. When they had met with love, I was met with agitation, impatience, and cruel words.
I began firing back when I was 7. My self-respect was starting to form but it was retaliated with abuse and cutting words not meant for a child to hear. Mischief was also beginning to form but their punishment taught me to be silent.
We were having a substitute teacher in 5th grade, he singled me out in the class because I was too silent too uncooperative never speaking. He told me, “You’re beautiful, you should speak more.” I was overwhelmed with shame from what he said. He had obviously thought that I would be loved more if I had spoken more openly. I never shared the painful retaliations of his suggestion.
Also, in that class, another teacher brought in a handmade letter that was meant as an exercise for technical writing. We were given the instructions to write a letter of plea to the government for support in the wildlife at an isolated town. She read that letter out loud and proceeded to applaud me for writing it. Her words had never sunk in. How could I? She obviously thought that the words were coming from a place of kindness when the truth is so much more to the contrary. It was coming from a place of fear.
In my early life, I learned that my native language had been used to abuse me, mentally and emotionally. Those abuse had left scars. And those scars were fear; the fear of speaking, the fear of pain followed by shame.
I was young when I had already heard several apologies from my parents because they have gone above and beyond to mock and punish me. It was painful to hear. And their hugs had left me cold. I was struck with the severe emotion of being misunderstood. I had wondered, if not them then how can anyone else? The experience had ultimately made me isolated from everyone else. I could never express myself for so many fears that’s too unbearable to tell.
I haven’t outgrown it. It is something that I always carry with me. When I’m in class, I constantly tell myself to not be a smartass when I knew the answer. I shouldn’t let anyone have the chance to single me out. To reassure everyone that I’m just like them. I was moved to be very strict on these rules when an incident happened in the university: there was a mix-up about our final projects and the professor was demanding an explanation. I had done the project well within the guidelines and had passed it before deadline. It was a misunderstanding and I didn’t understand how it had gotten there. When I couldn’t give a reason for the mix-up the professor had started raising his voice to a boom much like my father gets when angry. My mind completely blanked that time, my shoulders immediately hunching for cover as I took a step back. And there it was again. The sudden change in their faces. And my overwhelming shame. Was it the total lack of control of my body when it had braced for impact? Was it the realization that loud voices terrify me because of the following abuse? Or was it the fact that I had been abused?
And since I am much too proficient in the language of violence — that spiteful language of anger — it was very easy to become hated. When people despise me, it feels like coming home. A sort of comfort zone because of the familiarity. Could you already tell? Have you come to the conclusion yet?
My home is a war zone.
(This article is written for the awareness of the natal Aries South Node opposing the Sun&Moon and because of Chiron that conjuncts my Mercury)