Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thrown In The Dog House

We've all heard people talk about being in the dog house. Often times, it is a joke amongst friends but in many situations, this is real life.

Growing up in my house, you either followed the law of the land, or you were thrown in the doghouse, so to speak. No, it was not a physical dog house but a hypothetical one. It easily could have been real though. The law of the land was the rules that were made up on the spot, to keep you in line, force you to do something against your will, or for the amusement and enjoyment of the king. It is important to note that these rules were ever changing, and many times you did not know about them, until they were enacted against the offense you committed.

Before I mislead you to think that these were major wrongs that you committed in life, they were nothing of the sort! In fact, if one didn't put shirts on a hanger correctly (with the hanger pointing a certain direction) or if you didn't fold towels correctly and without error, these were considered major offenses. There were many rules that we had to follow and often we were literally beat for not following these things. It didn't matter what age you were, or how good you had been for days before these things happened. The only thing that mattered, was that the king found a way to show you who was boss!

So, let's get back to the doghouse. If you had committed an offense that the king deemed bad enough, the remainder of the family would be instinctively instructed to throw that person in the doghouse. Let me make it clear, that at no time were words exchanged so that all family members knew that someone was in the doghouse. It was up to each one to just "sense" and "know" that this punishment was to be followed, without question. If you violated the punishment given by the king to the person in the doghouse, it meant you were now in the doghouse and they were given freedom.

I'll explain a little further about the doghouse. If you were in the doghouse in my family, no one would speak to you unless it was of utmost importance. An example might be, "the house is on fire," and then it would be appropriate to speak to that person. Otherwise, unless you wanted to be in the doghouse and given the silent treatment, you avoided that person as well. This could go on for hours, or days or even weeks, depending upon what the king felt was appropriate in his judgment. The only thing that would end the sentence early was if someone else committed an offense to end up in the doghouse.

Can you imagine living in your family and having no one talk to you for long periods of time? Can you imagine the isolation and shame you felt? Keep in mind that this could have been a punishment for folding towels from the laundry incorrectly. It still blows my mind to this day that this happened but unfortunately, it is all too real in my memory. The silent treatment was by far, the more hurtful weapon used in our family (silent treatment = doghouse).

What is more difficult these days is that when I'm faced with silence from others, my mind automatically goes back to these days of the being in the doghouse. When this happens, I quickly think that I did something wrong, that they don't love me and I feel isolated as a result. No matter what someone tells me, silence is beyond frightening to me. Most people don't even realize that this is something I deal with, but the pain of it cuts deep into my emotional pain body.

It is not necessarily something that I can just not think about, because it is something that automatically happens within me, before I even have a chance to realize what is going on. It is as common to me as taking a breath of air and it hurts as much as a child being neglected.

I wish that this was not an experience I endured in life. However, I see it playing out in many ways in my life. It hurts. It is difficult. At some point, I can only hope that I am able to find a way to release this and let it go. I hope that I can reclaim this part of my life back again, so I don't have to suffer from the hurtful pains of isolationism or being in the doghouse.

Further Reading:
1) The Silent Treatment Sentence (Blog Post Aug 4, 2010)
2) Silent Treatment (Blog Post Mar 16, 2010)

Blog Post & Images (c) 8/17/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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