Do you ever ponder why two words get stuck together in your head? Conflated? Sometimes they’re tried and true ones (like that), fixed over time and by popular usage. Tried and true. Black and white (thinking). Ham and eggs. Zig and zag. Truth or dare. Those, plus a lot more. More or less. Oh…I could go on forever, but what a boring piece it would be. Peace and quiet. (STOP IT, AUDREY!)
I link them, conflate them. For me, they work together, in a perfect horrible way, to describe my experience growing up. If I were to be more accurate, it would be the collusion of silence. There was an unspoken, tacit agreement not to talk about emotion. Not to talk about the shame. The shame of incest, the shame of alcoholism, the shame of poverty, the shame of shame. Unspeakable things. Shameful things. Nothing that any family would want known. Certainly not a Jewish family growing up in ‘60’s when the myth that “Jews didn’t do these things” flew high over our heads, like a banner behind an airplane on a hot august day at the beach. If you didn’t talk about it, it didn’t exist. Right? Sure…
Silence and collusion. Collusion and silence. Collusion of silence.
Collusion isn’t, in the end, silent. It screams in your ear, in your heart, in your soul. It eats at you, a necrotizing disease of the soul. Soul necrosis. Often fatal, always leaving deep, disfiguring scars that no plastic surgery can hide. Scars that don’t show, of course. The ones that all batterers try to inflict. They’re the worst ones. The silent ones. Of course. They evoke silent screams. Screams of terror. Screams of rage. Screams of . . . just. . . screams. No rhyme or reason. No telling when they’ll come. Or go. Doesn’t matter. After all, no one can hear them. Only you. And you don’t really matter. Not in the collusion of silence.
When you speak, finally, if and when you can push through the blockades that the years and the fears have maintained, it’s in a small croaky voice. A child’s scared voice. A tiny shaky voice. Don’t worry. It will get stronger. It will get surer. It will break through the collusion. It will break through the silence. Separate them, conquer them. So they can no longer bond together, conflate. Separate but equal? No. That was ruled unconstitutional way back when. 1954, I think. Brown v. Board of Education. Just separate. Who cares if they’re equal? Not I.
Break them apart, and you’ll have yourself a fair fight. One that you can win. The battle for you.