Breaking the Silence

We’re all struggling with the uncertainty of the world today. My heart aches for each and every one of us fighting our own battles. ❤️ I will tell you that as someone who has overcome generational trauma and domestic violence, and recently lost my father, the events of today are 100% triggering on many levels. I condemn all violence.

This is me about the time when I realized how my words and thoughts could get me in trouble and seriously hurt. I was 12.

Mrs. Shorb. The teacher who believed in me when no one else did. The one who talked to my mother and convinced her I was smart? That writing was a career? IDK what she said specifically. All I know is that my mother was less dismissive of writing as a career after that parent-teacher conference in seventh grade. Even then, I believed in myself. I knew that I knew better than the adults in my life. I do not begrudge them that. They did the best they could for me. I understood at an early age that people cannot give you what they do not have. You can look to God but God will say look to yourself, I have given you what you need. My takeaway: stop abdicating your power to others.

My entire life, someone has been telling me what to think or say. In middle school, my mother used to scribble “scripts” for me to say on phone calls as she sat beside me and listened in to all my conversations. To this day I hate speaking on the phone. But I taught myself how to overcome that obviously as I’m on 100 Zoom calls a day for work. But seriously…

It’s scary not knowing what the other person will say.

My mother used to read my journals. When she could find them. I was reduced to hiding them in random locations once I became old enough to think for myself and wasn’t just writing I Love Mom poems. My words were deemed dangerous once I reached a certain age (12) and began to think for myself. Then my words were deemed unacceptable. My thoughts were unacceptable. I was unacceptable. I was all wrong. My ex-husband used to read my journals, too. No matter how good I hid them, he found them. He used them against me. Again, I learned I could not say what I really felt or thought. It was not safe.

For most of my life, my survival depended on my silence. Hiding my words.

The story to the world was that I was all wrong. I wasn’t telling the “right” family story. I was crazy. I was not “right.” The last time my mother found my journal hidden above the china cabinet, she looked at me as if I was a traitor and a lost cause. “No one wants to read things that are not happy.” Then: “You’re going to write about me someday, aren’t you?” I said no.

We both knew I was lying.

I paid a steep price for my silence. I still bear the scars.

But I kept writing. Hiding my journals. My words. My thoughts. Sometimes I still do. The point is, I am used to censorship. I have dealt with it my entire life. I know precisely the damage it does. I know exactly how it damages you, chokes you from speaking up, stops you from not speaking your truth. In alcoholic families, the party line is often some variation of, “What happens at home, behind closed doors, stays at home.” It is not okay to talk about the bad things that happen behind closed doors.

I know censorship. We are seeing it now. We must stop it now.

I know the price I paid for keeping silent throughout my childhood and my abusive marriage. I will not be silenced anymore. If you have never been silenced in your life, you will never understand the deep, passionate, commitment that many of us wonderful, strong, beautiful, humans feel about free speech. When you silence one of us – you silence all of us. This is unacceptable. Twitter is not my mother. Or yours. So why are we okay with them making decisions about what voices can be heard – or not? Are you seriously comfortable handing over “control” to someone else for what you hear, read, see?

You know who I worry most about today? Our kids.

The ones who have not yet been force fed a constant drip of “facts” that may or may not align with what you believe. Those kids – they are lost. I am talking about the kids we still have a chance of saving.

Your kids. Our kids. You know. The ones you are handing over to schools to tell them what and how to think.

Especially if you are not talking to them at home. Are you talking to your kids about what’s going on? If not, why? We must. I am telling you now we must. How do we help them make sense of it all? How do we reassure them when they are anxious and scared? How do we guide them when we ourselves are in such unchartered territory? What do we say to our kids who have special needs and struggle differently than others to get through this? How do single parents tackle this, especially when the other parent is MIA?

It’s tough no matter how you look at it.

But my child tonight, my child came to me. My young adult child came to me tonight in despair over the state of this world. My daughter has come to me looking for guidance, too. I realized I must do more. I must do more to be strong for my kids. To talk with them, guide them through these turbulent times. Our kids need guidance now more than ever. That means I have to get my political shit together – I have to make sense of the reality TV drama that has become “Congressional” business.

Business and drama we – me, you, our kids who work – pay for. Literally. Look at your paycheck. Look at the allocations. Keep checking over the next few months and years. We’ll talk again.

We know in our hearts what we believe. We know our values. The majority of us are willing to listen, try to hear and understand. We do not all feel the need to share our opinions on social media. There was a time when this was not even a thing. But the world seems so upside down and inside out. For soooooo long now.

It rattles you. To say the least. If not you, for sure me. There are so many in the last year…

voices, opinions, lockdowns, mandates, protests, riots (peaceful despite the damage and death), masks aren’t needed/masks are required, condemnations, vilifications, media spins, offenses, narratives, perspectives, videos, memes, witty Twitter comebacks, Congressional letters and fiery speeches on the floor we pay for (that go nowhere), shitty female interactions on The View (why is this ugly, mean show still a thing?) resignations, special updates, cancellations, woke gestures, woke posturing, virtue signaling, apologies, micro-aggressions, fears, new amendments (hello 25), racist and systemic racism allegations, defund the police mandates, murders skyrocketing, unemployment exploding, economy turbulence, video angles, redistribution of wealth, political goals and agendas, financial motivations, calls for stimulus checks, unity, impeachment, claims of insurrection, taxes without representation, rules for thee, but not for me! Vaccine warp speed!! Vaccine passports! Election fraud! China! Russia! Fraud! Socialism! Fascism! COVID!!! COVID!!! COVID!!!! Death! Fear! Selfish if you even think about walking to the mailbox without a mask on you SELFISH ASSHOLE YOU ARE KILLING GRANDMA!!!!!! Follow the science!!! Flatten the curve! It’s just for two weeks!! Two months!! Four more months!! One year!! No Thanksgiving! No Christmas! You can go to Walmart or the liquor store or the marijuana dispensary but not church or a restaurant or Grandma’s house.

Hmm…no wonder why we are all eating more, drinking more, smoking more, doing more drugs, more depressed, anxious, sad, pissed off, sick, and divided. We’re fat and sedated because the people “running the world” are driving us into submission and despair.

If you dare to disagree – dare to say the “wrong” thing, think the “wrong” thing, do the “wrong” thing – “YOU” are the wrong thing.

Are we really okay with this?

My father, a Korean veteran, spent his last days alone in a nursing home. My sister and I made heroic efforts to keep him home with us for as long as we could; in the COVID world, medical professionals made it clear that once he “went in,” we were “out.”

My father died alone and afraid. I could go to Walmart and get bacon at any time of day. But I could not go to the hospital and hold my father’s hand as he lay dying.

I am not okay with this. I will never, ever be okay with this.

*

We are better than this.

I am sad and ashamed at how nasty, mean, ugly, and eager to gloat, shame, condemn, and cancel each other we have become. This is not who we are. This is not who we are as Americans. I appreciate those who are trying to stay positive. Love you and you know who you are. I am asking us to take one step more: those of us with the light, courage, and brilliance must shine our lights more, longer, everywhere.

But when your kids are scared and your father dies alone and America starts feeling like Communist China and your young adult kids come to you and say, I am afraid. I don’t understand. I don’t feel like I can say what I really think, what do I do? What do I say?

What do you tell your kids? The ones who are old enough to think about these things? If you’re not talking to them, you should be. Because if you don’t talk to them, if you don’t provide them with guidance and direction – Twitter and Lady Gaga and the Kardashians and random politicians will.

You do not want that.

My kids are 19 and 21, living at home while working and going to community college full time to avoid student loan debt while they figure out their plan. They look to me to provide answers, perspective, assurance. This is what I tell them:

We are strong. We do not let ANYONE tell us what or how to think. We focus on what we can control. We focus on being the best humans we can be. We love. We know who we are, what we believe, and what we value. We are open to other perspectives and listen to hear, see, and understand.

Our family values are – and always will be – kindness and respect. At the end of the day, we will always stay true to who we are, what we believe, and what we value. ❤️

Want to make a real difference?

Stop posting vapid political memes and adding to the negative discourse. Get off your woke pedestal. You are adding fuel to the imaginary political fire while people are dying, businesses are dying, and our nation is more divided than ever before. You are now part of the problem. the snappy slogan “Silence is Violence.” Who gets to decide which silence is violence – and which is not? Who gets to decide who and what gets silenced? Who gets to drive you to hide your thoughts and ideas in journals hidden around the house in fear of being…heard?

Are you really willing to hand over this fundamental right to someone else? To a company?

It’s about people. Not politics.

Make a real difference. Get off social media. Get out in your community and do something that actually helps others. No selfie “look what I did” required. Buy local and support your small businesses. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a nursing home, Habitat for Humanity, something, anything, that will actually change something, someone for the better. Talk to your kids. Have real conversations about what is happening, ask what they think. Listen. But for the love of God, please…

Stop Polluting. Be the light in the darkness. We need that now more than ever.

Love and peace to all.
We are all in this together. ❤️

Update: I called a family dinner for tonight (when your kids are young adults juggling work, school, and friends, it’s a lot harder to book time with them!). It’s an open forum to talk about the state of things, the world, how they’re feeling, how they’re dealing. I have no idea what I am going to say. I plan on listening more than talking, which is hard for me to do but necessary. It’s going to be a standing family dinner (or breakfast or lunch or whatever meal time they will give me) event going forward. One small change I can make in my little corner of the world. I will let you know how it goes. 🙂

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