Silence=Death, Birthday Post

This is Part One of a new series of posts on memory, repression, and freedom. It has some biography and information that connect my previous posts on therapy and memory to the upcoming post(s). The title has been chosen with care; Silence=Death was used in any number of protests before it became a rallying cry for AIDS activists in the ’80s and spread far beyond a narrow community. The message is true in other aspects of life; people who are/were abused (sexual, physical, emotional) and all those marginalized in society must speak up to be heard. Speak out to avoid being erased.

I Woke Up This Morning
My pen had been silenced;
My voice- not gone so much as distracted.
Life interferes; or guilt at living
When too many other lives were ended.

Perhaps it was time used to heal
Or at least to work through the anger.
But even if it was just time spent hiding,
I am done being silent.
© Copyright 2011 Brian Gryphon- All Rights Reserved

I was born on this day in 1958- around 4:25pm according to Mum. At the time we lived in the eastern suburb of Metropolitan Toronto. According to my brother (born 6 years before me) we moved to a subdivision of, later absorbed by, North Bay in the fall of 1961. I would’ve been three years old. My lack of memories from our first home is pretty typical. I do have lots of memories of stories told, and pictures shared, from earliest years forward. The Family, Identity category of posts here goes into more detail about my memory’s lack of (accessible) detail.

I do have more memories from North Bay- one from a day in Kindergarten (1963-64), another few from higher grade(s); not sure which. My brother recalls that we moved from North Bay to Clarkson (which later became part of the newly-created city of Mississauga on the west border of Metro Toronto) “in early 1967“. We left there in the summer of 1968 for a village in south-west Ontario. I lived there until graduating High School in June 1977. So we lived in North Bay for five and a half years, and Clarkson for just one and a half. The number and intensity of memories I believe to be my own are very few in the first; more from the second. Some may be a simple matter of age, although the extensive memories of my siblings (and many other people) of their very youngest years suggests more is at work. Some of the ‘dreams’ to be presented in a following post might actually be memories. If so, they clearly change that calculus.

But before we get to the ‘good stuff’, a look at some of what therapy, self-reflection, and years of experience (aka ‘wisdom’) helped me see about early family dynamics.

In this November 2015 post I said “My recollection of my youth is of an open, sharing family. It’s undoubtedly (I think) true that the boundaries on talking about sex and many other topics were loose or at least not well defined.” At that time I also shared a story of just how far back the silence goes. The story “of Grandma (my paternal Grandmother)
taking Dad to a Doctor because he (Dad) was not speaking, well past the age most kids did (I suspect the story did at one point include a precise age, but it escapes me at the moment). The Doctor supposedly told Grandma that Dad didn’t speak because he never needed to ask for anything; his every need was met at the first hint of need (desire?). Now isn’t that a great pattern to take into later life?

In my youth I saw my family’s views on sex, sexuality and nudity as somewhat progressive. We did not run around the house naked, but my sense was that although my parents could quote any or all of the Bible’s verses relevant to those topics they didn’t. That message was received as being positive and progressive, rather than the traditional British (perhaps just ‘upper crust’) habit of disdainful dismissal- do not dignify something (someone) with comment.

In the next post I update my faulty memories in Memories Without Emotion from a year ago, as well as present two dreams(?) that will not leave me.

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