Letting go of relationships has always been terribly difficult for me to do, be it a friendship, lover, family member, and even some acquaintances. I read an article this morning about letting go while keeping and remembering the good parts of the relationship as well as the bad and most importantly remembering what that specific relationship taught you. For me, it seems most of my relationships with others end abruptly with little to no closure. This is a huge trigger for me as it seems that all of the significant relationships in my life have ended on this note. Even now, if we are back in contact with one another, communication is stifled. It seems funny to me that humans seem to have such a problem with communication when we are the one animal on the planet that has been blessed with a gift that is relatively easy to use, even if it is complicated at times. I’ll admit I am one of the worst at this myself but as I grow older I cannot explain how it makes me feel to be able to be brutally honest with someone for them to not respect me enough back to give me an honest answer when asked.
After my first boyfriend broke up with me we went back and forth multiple times in my attempt to get back together; I am still uncertain as to what his expectations were. We would get back together for a weekend, and then not speak for months at a time. This fueled my anxiety by making me wonder what I did wrong, or what I had done to make him ignore me. The silent treatment is probably one of the most cruel and disrespectful actions one could take against another, in my opinion. It leaves the other person completely invalidated that they were ever even meaningful in your life to begin with. It does not matter how long the relationship lasted or in what capacity it was in, if I am left with nothing or no explanation, I automatically start to blame myself.
During the turbulence of the aftermath of my first breakup, I began speaking with a man I met on vacation in Pensacola Beach while on Spring Break my senior year. He was stationed in Virginia Beach not long after we began communicating by phone. I fell pretty hard for him, and even used my graduation money to drive out to see him that summer. My parents would not let me go alone, so my mom went with me and we spent a week on the oceanfront and I fell head over heals for my AT (Aviation Electronics Technician). We talked daily for hours at a time, wrote letters back and forth, and sent each other gifts. I left to go to college in August of 2000 thinking I was in a relationship with him so when I left my hometown and got settled down in my dorm I tried to give him my new information for contact. I attempted to call his phone for days with no answer. About a month or so went by and I finally got his barracks mate on the phone. He informed me he had been in the brig for attempting to fail a drug test to get kicked out.
His father was an officer and pulled some strings to instead send him to the brig and forced him to finish his enlistment. Evidently during this time, he met another woman and had begun a relationship with her. She was pregnant and in his command, so they both got in trouble for fraternization and he was sent to another command on the west coast. Eventually she followed him and they were married. The funniest part of this story is that he never once told me any of this, I found it all out on my own after months of attempting to call and his roommate make excuses for him. Finally the roommate was tired of covering for him and told me everything. I never spoke to him again, but it was not by my choice, it was his.
Later that semester I had joined a sorority although I had not been through recruitment or anything like that. My friends ended up pledging after they went through rush and then brought in the rest of us later in the semester. We had a dance coming up and we were all expected to bring dates. I automatically flashed back to high school and the torment I went through trying to find someone to go with back then and my anxiety immediately began to raise. We were working on a float with another fraternity for the Holiday parade and I ran into a man I had previously met on a trip to Washington D.C. I had been nominated to be a delegate to National Youth Leadership Forum my senior year in high school and I had met a few other people from the state during that trip. I thought, well, I know him well enough, I should ask him to go with me to the dance. I did, he accepted and I was shocked.
We went to the dance that night and my friends also had dates from the same fraternity. Afterwards we all went back to their fraternity house to finish up the evening. We played card games and watched television and eventually we all split off into the couples we went to the dance with. I had sex that night with my date and I believed it was because he actually liked me. We left the next morning and from that point on they no longer would speak to us. This went on for over a week when we finally learned from another fraternity member that they had used us as part of their fraternity initiation. They were supposed to all have sex with a girl and then not talk to her again. Me and my friends felt like the biggest idiots for having fallen for such a dirty trick.
The dehumanizing feeling one is left with after being silently discarded is immense. It is something that can stay with someone for a very long time, I know because those events took place in the year 2000 and they still hurt to write about them now. I have never really told those stories before, and while it feels good to let it out, I am amazed that at this point in my life, I have had many more than the above leave me with the silent treatment, I even did it once to one of my very best friends, which I wrote about my regrets in an earlier post.It is hard to explain what exactly the silent treatment does to another human being if you have never experienced it, but for me, I can assure you it is agonizing.
I’m going to try to stop torturing myself with those who choose to employ this tactic against me. They do not deserve my time or attention if they can not give me the simple respect of an honest answer, even if the answer is “I don’t know how to answer that question at this time.” My experiences have left me with a person that cannot be anything but honest, as I know the damage that lies and dishonesty cause in all relationships. As children we are brutally honest with one another with little repercussions for our communication skills, why do we loose so much of this as we age? I hope if you have read this far that you too will commit to being more honest in your daily interactions. I wonder what the world would look like if we stopped being afraid of effective honest communication instead of the holding onto the bitterness and isolation a lack of communication seems to cause. It is a world I will strive to create, and I will not apologize for it any more.