You’re Not Alone: Neither Seen Nor Heard

You know how some people say “Children are to be seen but not heard.”? Well, when I was growing up, I was neither to be seen nor heard.

I remember most of my bedrooms growing up. Not because they were anything special, I really wasn’t allowed decorations or many things, but because I spent so much time in them. I was trained at a very early age that I was to stay out of sight and be quiet. When anyone came over, even family, I was to go to my room, shut the door and stay put unless I was called. If that happened, I was to be quiet and only speak if spoken to.

I wasn’t allowed to play outside my room. I rarely got to see TV until I was older. I had mostly books in my room. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade before I was allowed a radio. I never engaged in shouting, jumping, or anything that resembled fun. I never had playmates. I didn’t play at school either. I can’t remember ever playing like the way I see kids do on TV. I didn’t get on a swing for the first time until I was 12.

When I was in middle school I remember having the gall to invite a school friend over to the apartment. Everyone always wondered why I never came out, never went to the mall, had never seen a movie in a theater. I so wanted to be normal. I didn’t even like her all that much, but she was the only one willing to come over, and the only one I could bear sharing the embarrassment with. When she got to the apartment, my grandmother went to the door and flatly told her she was unwelcome, that I didn’t like her, and she should never return. I never had another friend over. Ever.

I never did get to go to a mall or a theater. I didn’t go to the dances or school activities. I didn’t really have friends. I hated my grandmother with a burning passion. I despised her with all my heart. I’m thankful that I was allowed my art and books or else I might have gone totally crazy. I did actually plan out her murder more than once. I probably could have done it too. I was, after all, in the top 5% of intelligence in all my schools. The only thing that stopped me was the fear of ending up somewhere worse than where I already was.

Don’t do this to your kids. If you know someone who’s treating their child this way, stop them. It’s wrong. I don’t know if grandma thought she was “saving” me from the evils of the world or if she just wanted to keep me weak and scared and alone. From what I can tell, it was the latter. I don’t think the woman understood the concept of love or caring. To this day (or the last time I spoke to her nearly a decade ago) she showed no remorse for her actions while raising me. She was still trying to frell with my head, even after all those years.

 

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