Quiet ones

While in respite, the respite house owner/carer turned to me and directly asked me how I was.  It had been a hectic day with the other women in respite acting out in various ways, meanwhile we’d been quietly in our room doing art and drinking water.  The question was asked directly, and we deflected it nicely by saying that we were fine.  It was her follow up statement that threw me, and cut to the core of our issues while growing up – “It’s always the quiet ones who get overlooked”.  I was that quiet one.  I always have been.  I actively become quiet when things are bad with my mental health or if people are hurting me.  It’s one of the ways to become invisible, to become so quiet that no one sees you.  If no one sees you, then no one can hurt you and no one can ask you difficult questions.  So, we became very good at being quiet and flying under the radar.  The respite carer knew this technique…

When we relayed this incident to the mother after we’d come out of respite, we couldn’t do it without tearing up…  The carer “saw us” in that brief moment of asking the how we were.  In contrast, when telling the mother, she looked away, uncomfortable with the situation and the tears in my eyes.  I try not to blame my mother for her reactions, she had tough parenting and has never been in therapy long enough to change the habits of being an absentee parent herself.  She does try to show she cares in various ways, they’re just not very productive or meaningful.  Instead of apologising for the oversights in the past, she washes my windows…

We remain that quiet one.  We do this in therapy as well.  Liz has now realised the extent of our avoidance and quietness during therapy.  Our resolve for the New Year is to try and tease out the anger that sits within the system.  In many ways I don’t mind if this happens, I’m so out of touch with the anger that I don’t recognise it as existing.  But, at times when I do get a sense of the anger being there, it terrifies me to think that we will be looking at it more closely.  It’s something that has been tucked away and growing for the last 30 odd years, I’m not quite sure what it will look like when we do lift the lid.  Liz assures me that we will lift the lid very slowly and with great care…


18 thoughts on “Quiet ones

  1. I understand being the quiet one. I’m glad the carer could see this, as hard as that was. My therapist says that often it’s the touching things people do or say that upset us more than the horrible ones, if that makes sense.

    Are you sure your mother and mine are not related? From what I know, your mother does care – as does mine – she just isn’t sure how to show it sometimes. Both out mothers seem more comfortable using practical things to show they care – like washing windows, or doing the ironing, or whatever. My mother is similarly uncomfortable with tears and mushiness. My therapist thinks this is because she feels guilty for what happened in the past, and for what is happening to me now. Helping out in practical ways is good, but doesn’t at all justify their sometimes bad behaviour. For me it is some consolation or is, at least, better than not caring at all.

    The anger is scary, but it’s doable. You have shown so much strength and courage already. I know you have the strength to face this. And I will be with you every step of the way. I didn’t even know I carried the anger, but I faced it, with my therapist’s expertise and support. Liz is right – slowly and with great care is the way. Sometimes now I can even see how much better life is without that anger hanging around my neck all the time.

    Please take care and remember we are here.

    • Hi Kerro,

      I get what you mean about being more comfortable with negativity than caring…

      I think with my mother, it’s not about whether she cares or feels guilty about the past; I think it has more to do with her not being comfortable with emotions. She’s never been emotional, she’s a hard nosed nurse who was trained not to show emotion and she carried this through to every part of her life. I don’t dislike her for it, it would confuse me if she suddenly “did” emotions…

      I’m glad others have confidence in my ability to do the anger, cos I sure don’t!

      Take care,

  2. It’s amazing to really be “seen,” isn’t it? And scary too. But I’m glad it happened, and glad that Liz is starting to know your needs better as well.

    • It’s truly terrifying to be “seen”… but then I know there are young ones inside who notice it when it happens and need it; but their needs get swamped by all the others who need to stay invisible.

      Take care,

  3. I really relate in what you have written. We wouldn’t have remained alive, if we hadn’t been the Quiet ones for a long, long time.
    It’s unbelievable hard, to break these chains today and make us visible. But to the fact, that we maybe dare to make us visible, we are thereby also vulnerable and therefore we should trust the people who want to help us. Without the trust we cannot show us.

    With the feeling of anger I have no experience. I only know, that there is a special part in our system that takes all the anger and rage. Because it seems that the anger is apparently boundless, I can not deal with it at time. I admire your courage to look at it. It’s good, that Liz will be careful to lift the lid.
    Take care P.

    • It’s a huge step to be seen, but then we must be seen in order to be able to ask for help… The past tells us to curl up and be invisible, while the people trying to help us are trying to encourage us to stand up and be visible…

      It’s another way in which our old coping mechanisms hinder, or show our need, for healing…

      Liz has assured me that we will be progressing slowly. I’m not sure what that is going to look like, or feel like, so these are the questions for our session tomorrow…

      Take care,

  4. I am quiet, too and I agree with David, it’s very scary to be seen. In fact, I don’t know how to act when I realize I’ve been “seen”. I go away inside myself and pop out occasionally. I don’t know how to stop it.

    • I think it’s one of those things that slowly changes with healing, and is possibly also a personality trait. I’m not sure which I am – quiet because of my past, or because it’s my basic personality.

      Take care,

  5. I can tell you that it can absolutely change. As terrified as you are of that… it’s absolutely possible and achievable by you. The reason I say that is the obvious one: that is that there are parts of you who are the polar opposite. I am not saying that “integration” is the answer, but through collaboration, a huge amount can be achieved. Good luck!

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence Paul. I know there are different ones in this head who are confident, angry, happy, depressed, etc. I’d really like to get to a point of collaboration where the extremes are eased back and we can all work together consistently.

      Take care,

  6. When Kerro says “For me it is some consolation or is, at least, better than not caring at all”
    I couldn’t disagree more. If it is better, it is better for parents, but not for children. Why? Because it makes harder for the children to show the angry feelings to the parents, that’s why!!!

    For children it would be better that parents would not try to deflect their children’s anger and would instead listen to the anger for once!!!

    • But I wonder if the anger has already been stamped down by then T.M-R.O.? If our parents deflect and ignore emotions all our lives, then we’ve never really had a chance to express anger… We’ve been taught that emotions are “bad” and to not be expressed, I would imagine that anger is one of the first emotions to be put in the “not acceptable” basket. So, as a child we need all our emotions to be expressed and appropriately addressed; but as an adult, it’s too late for that almost. The healing for all people concerned is huge. Saying that, my mother is actually more comfortable with me being noticeably anxious as this is a “medical condition” that can be medicated. She is also ok with me appearing happy, but sadness or tears are what makes her most uncomfortable. She’s rarely experienced me being angry as far as I know…

      So yes, I see what you mean, parents need to allow and listen to ALL their children’s emotions. But what do we do when we are now all adults and that pattern of not allowing and not listening is established? Odds are the parent who doesn’t allow the emotions will also not accept that they need therapy or healing assistance… I’m not sure there is an easy answer.

      Take care,

  7. I like what Paul said.

    “But what do we do when we are now all adults and that pattern of not allowing and not listening is established? Odds are the parent who doesn’t allow the emotions will also not accept that they need therapy or healing assistance… I’m not sure there is an easy answer.”
    This is not an easy thing. However, I have tried to simplify some of this stuff the best way I can for my own life. #1 I ‘thought’ I found a therapist who was not like that, but I think I was wrong. #2 I dumped my mother and family of origin. #3 I started blogging so I can tell some things. #4 I dumped the therapist I was wrong about. What’s sad is that there seems to be an awful lot of stuff getting dumped and nothing new and good coming on board. I wish you better luck than that. I understand how hard things can be.

    • I also like what Paul said 🙂

      Thank you for trying to answer my questions. I’m sorry you had such negative experiences with your family of origin and therapist. Healing is also about having the courage, strength and knowledge about when to cut out the negative aspects of our lives… well done on doing that.

      Take care,

  8. @ Ethereal Highway – Actually the above was said by Castorgirl, herself. Sorry to hear you found nobody being able to teach how to listen/acknowledge and heal…

  9. UGH, I had T today.
    Its all so friggin confusing.
    Theres some real good stuff written here.
    I gonna read it when my head is better.
    Its good to hear these things.
    Sorry I got nothing clever to add, cuz I spinning.
    It just good to hear you hanging in OK CG.

  10. Me too on the being the quiet one, invisibility, safety, and reacting like this when in a bad personal space. I belong to a yahoo email group where I can always tell when ritual abuse survivors are going through a bad trigger day, they all get silent.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


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