Let’s Be Frank (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I’m generally pretty comfortable with my understandings of things that matter.  I don’t think for a second that I know all.  I don’t think I will ever know all.  But I know that I pay attention.  That I’m open to learning.  I don’t have a problem with being wrong because every time I am wrong I have been given the opportunity to learn and that ‘wrong’ then is moved over to add to my list of ‘rights.’  I am open to changing if it will make my life’s experience more complete, more worthy.  And right now I have a pressing question.

Today – for a long time – I’ve pondered the idea of when to say something and when to hold silence and I just don’t get this one.  I tend to hold my tongue more than not.  And so often my silence is misinterpreted.  People think I’m being judgmental.  Or that I simply don’t care.  I’ve been considered manipulative.  And yet, when I speak up…so often I’m misinterpreted.

I’ve learned hard lessons due to speaking up.  And I’ve learned hard lessons due to keeping my silence.  I look around me, at the role models in my life.  One of my key role models is Pollyanna.  You’ve met her.  She refuses to acknowledge the bad as long as she can as though, if she can refuse long enough it will settle itself.  Kind of like ignoring the bad behavior of a child in the hopes that if you don’t reward it it will disappear.  And I see a situation where this has caused so much confusion and harm.  And then I look at another major role model, Frank.  She is often criticized for saying too much.  She speaks her mind and sometimes hurts people.  They go away.

Maybe this whole question of to speak or not to speak is a girl thing.  I don’t know.  I was told as a child that if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.  If someone asks you if you like their new dress, you are supposed to find something nice about the dress, even if it’s just that it covers skin, rather than come and out and say the dress is hideous.  I would never want to uselessly hurt someone’s feelings.  If my speaking up will hurt someone and what I say has no chance of creating a better next moment, then I will not speak up.  I’m clear on that.  But what about the rest of it?

If you know that your friend’s husband is cheating on her, do you speak up?  If you know your boss is sleeping with the CEO’s wife, do you speak up?  If you know your sister is lying to your mother, do you speak up?  When do you tell all and when do you hold your silence?

I think about the women in my life.  There have been several instances where they just don’t talk to each other for long periods of time.  Long long periods of time.  I can think of three such instances just off the top of my head.  I’m not talking about being mad for a few weeks.  I am not speaking here of people with problems that are spoken and still unresolved.  I am not speaking of the instances where one just won’t listen and isn’t willing to open his or her heart to their own mistakes in an effort to resolve situations.  I am speaking of the cut off.  The unspoken.  I’m talking about long, extended periods of time.  I don’t understand how people can do that to each other.  I don’t know what to do with the situations.  Where to put them inside myself.  How to find peace or do the best thing.  I don’t believe the silence best serves life.  I don’t know what to learn from it.  I don’t understand why some people cannot just speak their hurt, or anger, or fear, or frustration, to face head on whatever is being buried.  There is no way to heal or move on when the problem is buried.

On the other hand, if I talk about situations that are upsetting, or give my opinion on things, if I say what I think, then I risk becoming a gossip.  Or sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong.  I risk hurting feelings and being mean and spreading viciousness instead of love.

I have been living with a five year silence within my family.  I have tried every way I know to end that silence.  I have given months of total silence.  I have tried occasional contact.  I have made certain that the love in my heart is spoken.  I have apologized for everything I can think of that I might have done to offend or hurt.  I have been patient.  I have offered everything.  I am blocked at every turn.  It is unnatural and unhealthy and it is killing me one day at a time – more I am watching it eat away at another family member.  I don’t even know why the silence exists.  I have never been told.  What horrible thing have I done?  I’ve talked to others, or rather, they talk to me, and every single person I speak to says that the problem is with the other person.  So many are being hurt.  But no one speaks up.  Is there any way to rectify the situation?  At this point, I would give my arms and legs, literally, to make this better.  What good is the body, the shell, if the life inside is not right?  How do I at least get understanding?  I am out of answers. 

I read an article this morning about being happy in this life.  It spoke about doing what matters most to you.  The author states that we are all unique individuals with our own unique things to offer the world and our own unique experiences to have.  The way to live our individual lives to their fullest is to listen to our inner voices – not the external voices of others – to know what matters most to us.  (As opposed to living our lives the way others would have us live them.)  The article stated that if we can find out what matters most to us and then make our choices so that that which matters most is our priority, then we will truly have lived.  People matter most to me.  Making things right with those I love is what matters most to me.  It always has.

These past few months I have slighted you all with shortened and hurried blogs, making my writing my priority over all else, when, you, the people I have come to know and care about in our Storybroad community, as well as the people in my family, should have been the priority.  I apologize.


8 thoughts on “Let’s Be Frank (Tara Taylor Quinn)

  1. No need to apologize, Tara. Life happens and I think everyone here understands that. Just continue being you. We’ve got your back.

    As for holding your silence, I’m not very good at that one but my Dad was and so is my hubby. But watch out if you ever asked their opinion because you would receive the unvarnished truth and nothing but the truth. And most people don’t want the truth even if they say they do.
    As for when to tell or not tell. Remember the messenger is usually the one who gets shot or takes the blame. I guess it is worth telling if the person you are telling will benefit from the knowlegde and that isn’t always easy to determine.
    As for estrangements, sometimes they do tend to work themselves out and sometimes not. I have a brother that we didn’t speak to for many years. At some point that changed. Things have never been right but at times we all still try. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not. My dad’s little brother isn’t has no contact with my family since about 2 months after my dad died. He cut us off which is no surprise since he also has no contact with his only child. His daughter has tried to mend fences or establish some sort of relationship but he will have no part of it. Not only is he missing out on his daughter’s life but that of his grandchildren. He lost both parents at a very young age (9/10). My Dad was 10 years older but they are like night and day how they chose to let that experience define them and make them into the adults they turned in to. My uncle chose to be miserable all his life. Everything happens to him according to him. It is sad.

    Sorry no insights to offer.
    Hang in there, Tara. You are doing a great job. Choose to be happy. Remember sometimes God puts people in our lives for a short time and or a long time, but we are blessed to have had them in our lives no matter what the length of the walk. And sometimes we are blessed to cross paths with them again. Take care.

  2. KENNY UPDATE: CT of trunk/pelvis and venus doppler today. Biopsy results are back. It is cancer, a different type than the other brain tumor before.This one is aggressive too. Will put in a port tomorrow and start chemo. Thank you all for your prayers for Kenny. He really needs them.

  3. Withholding is SUCH the power trip. Just surmising, you held authority in the past, and boy are you being paid back. *Sigh*

    Your apology – accepted – shows insight and a natural sweetness. We all have our busy, frantic periods. We’re some understanding folks.

  4. Thea,

    I never thought about the power trip part. I’ll willingly have no power on this one. I don’t need authority. I don’t even want it. It wouldn’t be healthy.


    I guess we aren’t original – families hurt each other in the name of being hurt. I wish it didn’t have to be that way.

    I am SOOO sorry to hear about Kenny. I missed your original sharing of this and have gone back and tried to find all the comments. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep us posted. Something like this sure puts the rest in perspective.

  5. Tara, I’m so sorry about the continuing and hurtful silence. I’ll share something that made a huge difference in my life and with my family. It was a different situation, but the wisdom that was shared with me applies almost universally to “hopeless” situations.

    In his early twenties, my son went into a death spiral with drugs and alcohol. As a family, we tried everything humanly possible, including professional counseling. Nothing worked and the cycle of desperation continued until we all reached a point of despair, realizing there was nothing more we could do and that by bailing him out and repeatedly rescuing him, we might actually be doing him harm. We decided as a group that we had to let him deal with the consequences of his actions, which meant a jail stay, followed by rehab.

    We all thought he would continue to spiral down and we’d written his death sentence, but he got an entirely different message. He finally understood that there there were consequences to his actions and he had to deal with them himself. He not only stopped abusing, he taught himself to read while in jail. He’d been diagnosed as dyslexic and had always struggled with reading, but he powered through all obstacles and read every book he could get his hands on. As a writer, I was almost as thrilled about that as his sobriety!

    Here’s the wisdom that I was imparted and what finally allowed me to stop enabling my son–and to encourage my family to do the same. It’s four words: Let go and let God.

    It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do and it put me in touch with my deepest fears as a mother. I was convinced my only child would destroy himself if I didn’t keep rescuing him. Today, twenty years later, he’s alive and well with a beautiful family of his own.

    So, a completely different situation from yours, but the essence is the same. When a situation is hopeless, let go and let God. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do.

    You don’t have to be deeply religious to take this step. I’m more of a higher power, higher purpose kind of believer. It’s the letting go of trying to control the uncontrollable that’s essential. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind. Another good one. We can’t make people do or feel what we want them too and when we try they often resist us. When we release them from our needs, they can often find their own way … and sometimes it leads them back to us.

    Just some thoughts. They may not apply in your case. Regardless, you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I know how painful this process is and I wonder if we don’t all go through it with our kids and family in one way or another, at one time or another.


  6. Cheryl, Kenny is in my prayers and I’m envisioning the chemo as a ferocious fleet of Jedhi warriors, whose only purpose is to wage battle with the cancer. And win!

  7. Tara, there is no apology necessary…life gets busy. As you said earlier in your post, sometimes it not you. When that happens it really hard to see that you’ve done all you can do and have to let it go or it will eat you up inside. I am estranged from my brother and his family, and really don’t know why. I’ve tried to find out and nothing comes of it. I’ve had to let it go, to move on.

    I wish the best for you and hope it all works out sooner rather than later.