Quiet Enforced

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My ex was addicted to prescription narcotics. For several years before we escaped, we were required to live in silence. He insisted that everything was quiet all the time and he enforced the rule with cruelty. Imagine keeping seven kids — two of them under the age of one — silent. My oldest daughter played the guitar but made sure she stayed in her room or took her music outside. When the baby cried, Rail screamed at me to shut her up. I was punished if I had not anticipated the baby’s need before she began to cry. If we rattled the plastic shopping bags while putting groceries away he would scream at us to stop the noise. Back then we walked on eggshells and I was such a nervous wreck that I never stopped to wonder why he didn’t just go into another room and shut the door.

When we tried to have game time, giggles brought his wrath. I was not allowed to make noise with the pots and pans when I cooked. It was insane. We lived in fear of every noise — knowing that an accidental sound would bring something horrible.

Sometimes quiet is good. We now have a noisy household, so when there are a few moments of quiet, it’s nice. It enables me to relax, take a deep breath, and just be. I can appreciate the quiet now without feeling panicked at the thought of making a noise, but I still struggle with reactions that happen before my mind can remember that I’m not in that situation anymore. Sometimes a loud, unexpected noise throws me into a brief terror, or I’ll shush the kids for playing too loudly — then I remember we’re all safe and noise isn’t going to hurt us.

I’m thankful for the noise I hear everyday from my kids. It symbolizes life and freedom — two things I never cease to be grateful for.

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