I shared the above picture on my Instagram stories the other day as it described some of the most potently cruel behavior my Dad used to dish out. Etched into my memory are multiple occasions where he would be interacting with every other person we were with, while completely ignoring me because I had wronged him in some way. The anger seeping from him toward me was palpable; I could practically touch it. And yet on he went interacting with whoever else he was with like their was nothing wrong. This treatment was not confined to public occasions, so committed was he to his craft he could do it when it was only my brother, sister and I – laughing with other two and nothing-ing me.
It took me a very long time to know that this was wrong. In the meantime, it embedded deep seated feelings of shame, of guilt, of thinking that I must be such an awful person to elicit such a response from my Dad, who only acted that way because he ‘loved me so much’. The power of the ignore is such that even now, years after the fact and after much healing later, I feel compelled to give an example as to one of the reasons why he would do this, just in case you, dear reader, are thinking ‘well maybe she did deserve it…’. I know you are not and I know I do not have to, but just to satiate my inner child, this punishment would be dished out if I had perhaps missed the time of one of our nightly phone calls, or if I had gotten upset by the way he spoke about my Mom, or if I had gone to see her first on returning from University even though she was picking me up from the train station.
As I have said many times, we all have a lot in common and are not alone in our experiences. Even so, when I shared this, I did not expect anyone to respond saying ‘same’ – but some of you did. You had been on the receiving end of this behavior from parents and partners, and may still be experiencing it now. Hearing this filled me with sadness, but also a comfort and a hope. It reinforced that this behavior is really not ok, that I was not alone, and that we can all heal or continue to do so.
Presently I am reading Self-Source-ery by Lisa Lister, my favourite and most empowering writer. This morning’s chapter was about how we often ignore our gut feeling and stay silent, because in the past (whether that be our current lives, past lives or collective memory), trusting how we feel then speaking on it has been a dangerous thing. How living truthfully has led to being ostracised. And that if we trust how we feel, speak it and are seen, then we become more fortified beings.
This is all quite esoteric. But it got me thinking about how ‘the ignore’ is used day-to-day, has become embedded in certain situations, and is even socially acceptable - even though it makes us feel shit and we know it.
In the arts, for example, it is standard for you to send a well-crafted CV or application form to a company only to never hear from them. Not even an acknowledgment saying ‘thank you for your application, we have got it and we do not care’.
The killing-field that is modern dating, is littered with stood-up dates and ghosting as a commonplace for ending a connection.
Friendships where one party has bothered the other can lead to someone being ‘swerved’ for a bit.
Jealousy over another’s achievement can manifest in not showing support – from swiping past their social media post to not going to their event.
There are many more examples. These are the first things that came to me, because not only have I been on the receiving end, I have dished them out too. Have you? I ask because, when we identify the shadowy nature within us, we can grow. In my opinion, when we act like this, it can often mean that we are scared of telling the truth, scared of offending, that we do not know how to set a boundary, or that we are acting out from a place of hurt. And of course, sometimes it simply means we are being a dick.
To quell the societal spell where to ignore someone is to assert power over them and thus we all end up feeling shitty, what if we empowered ourselves by saying what we actually mean?
Not that into the person on Tinder? Politely thank them for their time ‘but it’s not for me’, and on you go.
Friend annoyed you? You could tell them why you are bothered and that you maybe need some time to heal.
Someone sent you something you are not interested in? Cool, I refer you to the Tinder response.
And if we do realise that we are experiencing something jealousy (which although shitty is part of the spectrum of human emotions), we could be real with ourselves and admit that. Of course, part and parcel of being open to living more truthfully is that we may also hear when we have cause offence, or that that person does not want to date us. I am very much at a point where I ‘take the lesson and move on’ – but it took a while and if you are not, I strongly recommend in investing in practices that build resilience and confidence from the inside.
All of this gives us something tangible to work with. When we speak to ourselves clearly, and thus other people, we can be fortified. A lot of what I teach in practice is about learning to trust yourself, the body being the great gateway to the mind and beyond. Use it as testing ground – what is a ‘hell yes’ in this practice and what is a hard no? Why? And am I listening or am I pushing through?
If we could we be more honest with ourselves, as opposed to dishing out our own silent treatment, we make a quiet revolution rooted in compassion and understanding as opposed to abuse and control. There is no telling how far these ripples could be felt, so I am going to try it. And for anyone suffering right now;
YOU are a good person. This is not your fault. And you are not alone xoxo