My personal violations are not exactly the same. No stranger exposed himself to me in the park in my tenderest years. The similarity between my friend's experience and many of my own is this: some of us are so willing to be "polite", not blow the whistle, not make any waves, we will do that even to our own detriment, safety and peace of mind. Did we once possess that little bit of attitude, that disregard for the niceties, that willingness to call a spade exactly that? Was it beaten out of us in one way or another? Or were we convinced very young that we just shouldn't say things outright, perhaps that no one was interested enough to listen or pay attention and our best hope in life was just to be polite?
It happens I appreciate people who just say what they're thinking. Oh, sometimes they make one a bit uncomfortable, but little is left to the imagination. No fantasies, good or bad, need be constructed. No bullshit among the straightforward, right? I am still not completely forthcoming with exactly what I think in every single situation. Age and menopause have brought me a little closer to outspokenness. The courage of my convictions and an appreciation of the things I know well has bucked me up, somewhat. But I am still rather accommodating to those I encounter who may prefer not to hear my actual reaction to their words or behavior.
If you are one who takes comfort from the silence of certain others, here are some things to consider:
- Though some of you think we are dumb, we're not necessarily. Our failure to bark in your face does not mean we believe what you've just said. Nor do we forget it. One doesn't want to think s/he has put one over on us.
- When you say, every time we see one another, "Girl, I'm going to call you next week for lunch - it's been too long!", we don't hold our breath any more.
- When you say "Just because _____, doesn't mean _____," we know that's exactly what it means.
- When you say the same thing to us over and over and over again, but your words aren't followed by any action to support them, you can stop telling us whatever it is. We don't believe you any more.
- When you tell us in vivid detail about your latest exploit that most people would find shocking, do not mistake our silence for approval. Maybe we're simply not up to screaming "Slut!" or "Bastard!" at you.
- When you take an unpopular stand on something in a group, do not misconstrue our quietude for solidarity. Perhaps we're simply embarrassed we brought you along and don't wish to call attention to ourselves or you.
- Sitting at lunch together, when you say, "Don't think _____. That's not how it is.", be warned: we know that's just precisely how it is.
If you are one who takes comfort from the silence of certain others, here are some other things to consider: perhaps you seek out those you know will be silent because you are unwilling to face your own nonsense. They won't force you to do that, either. Maybe you pontificate to the quiet ones because it makes you feel pretty good about yourself. You might blow smoke up the butts of such people, because you can and no one challenges you. There is a chance you do these things to avoid relating with other human beings in any real way. My friend coined a most beautiful phrase: "Such people are addicted to deception. They thrive on misrepresentation undisputed."
Although I have come a way down the road, I doubt I'll hang my head out of the car window tomorrow and say "Damn, that's an ugly hat, old lady!" I probably won't immediately start in on everyone I know with "Stop spinning it, I'm not buying it." At least not in every situation. At AA, when someone yammers on until I want to scream, I'm unlikely to say, "Hey, I think you're drunk now!" But I feel I could manage, in honor of my friend, "Hey, Mister, your dick is out and I'm not appreciating it. Put it away before I call a cop," if such a situation presented itself. Sometimes we take on the bigger tasks first and fill in the blanks later with the little stuff.