Emotional abuse works like this:
You are yelled at and criticized, and then, not knowing any better, you stand up for yourself.
You think this is a way of being strong. You think this is a defense tactic.
But this only provokes more yelling, criticizing, and reminding you daily what’s wrong with you..
Going silent provokes more yelling and complaining, but usually it keeps the threats to a minimum.
It keeps it just at yelling and criticizing and not: a shove, slap, or backhand, or order to pack your belonging and get out.
So you learn how to go silent.
How to play dead. How to cry without making a noise. How to swallow noise.
How to wipe your cheeks, get out of the car, and go about your day. You pretend.
And when the yelling and belittling has stopped, when the two of you are in the car or out to dinner and they are all smiles, all asking for favors, or questions,
you are still hurt and annoyed
and want to ask them, how?
How can you speak to me like that?
How can you act like you did not say those things?
How can you have forgotten?
But you’ve learned.
So you silently listen to,
“Can I borrow you keys’ silently and “How was your day?”
Once more you play dead. You swallow the noise.
And sometimes it doesn’t matter who is speaking to you,
It doesn’t matter if they’re a spouse, a friend, a neighbor
It doesn’t matter if their criticism is constructive,
it just doesn’t matter.
Any sort of speaking, any raising of the voice,
any insult and you play dead.