By disposition and trauma training, I understood that what I observed, interpreted, and discerned was wrong. It was a well-known fact that I was always to defer to the will of the more powerful other, regardless of how outlandish, inept, absurd, or abusive. A people pleaser by nature, this deference was easy for me and as rapid as breathing. Power made me cower. Until recently, I didn’t understand that I had an agency of my own.
It arduous to learn to “know” what I have known; to make and retain my own observations: to not to succumb to the perspective of another; to use the epi-pen of evidence to treat the anaphylactic shock of self-doubt. This for me is a continual work in progress. Trauma-trained me to be a professional perspective taker.
You wouldn’t know unless you really know me that only a year ago it took me 30 seconds to screw up the courage to ask a store clerk for two shopping bags to distribute a load so my arms wouldn’t ache. You would have to be in my head while I watched my friend get spectacular service while we were on an outing, requesting what she needed, while I sat quietly unable to be specific enough to be serviced as such. You’d have no idea that in a group setting on matters that matter to me, it is very nearly like sawing off my arm and eating it to say… “I am concerned about X and I see Y.”
Abuse stole every shred of internal, interpersonal agency I had. I could not afford to know what I knew. It would cost too much to understand what we all understood. The only choice was to adapt to the will of the more powerful other or die. It was a “choiceless choice.” It was the catastrophic loss of voice. The “self silence” of abuse was staggering.
Oh, the irony that I now must make, take, keep, and protect my own perspective. This is clearly not a call to insulate myself into impervious idiocy, but acknowledge that wisdom and discernment have rooted in the ruins of abuse. Blind submission to others is a breeding ground for brutality.
Historically I was open to feedback from all fields; I deferred to those who appeared to have an air of authority. I have necessarily narrowed who I really listen to and allow to speak into my perspective and my personhood. As for self-doubt, I am silencing it. Self silence? I am in the business of breaking it.