Silence Can Be Deafening

The past couple of weeks have been rough emotionally.  There has been a lot of waiting to hear from people, both on personal issues and professional issues.  Throw in some disappointing news professionally and I admit it has been really hard to talk or write about what’s going on in my head.  This has been the first major series of events that have occurred since my estrogen levels finally hit their target.  Talk about a whole new emotional response!

LetterTwo weeks ago today, I sent a letter to my sister in law disclosing my transition.  I shared the letter with my sister before I sent it and she said it was one of the most heartfelt letters she had ever read.  Not only did I disclose my being transgender in the letter, but I also shared my previous mental health history and much of what I struggled with in my life and how important she and the kids, and relationship with them, are to me.  I acknowledged that I knew this would not be easy for her and that while I hoped she wouldn’t reject me, I would respect her wishes if she did.  I also included an FAQ of the 10 most common questions I am asked by people when I disclose.

I sent it two weeks ago and my sister in law received it the next day.  I had sent it overnight mail due to the family wedding I wrote about before.  She needed the information prior to the wedding so that neither she nor the kids were blindsided by some stray comment from one of my disapproving aunts or uncles.

Silance AnswersSo I mailed it with my hands literally shaking as I worked with the postal clerk to get it shipped overnight.  And her response?  Nothing.

When I say there has been no response, I mean no response.  She has not attempted to contact me in any way.  Over the weekend of the wedding, my sister tried to talk with her about it all to get a read on where my sister in law was.  My sister in law refused to acknowledge me at all in their conversations.  She wouldn’t say my name.  Nothing.

When my sister finally filled me on Wednesday, we both acknowledged that my sister in law may still be process the news.  I obviously dropped a bomb on her.  I directly challenged her view of many things in the world and many of her moral beliefs in that letter.  I know reading it must have been incredibly hard for her and I do not, in any way, want to take away from any struggles she is having in getting that news about me.

Silent RejectionThe wait is killing me though.  My sister and I both believe her silence and failure to acknowledge me in discussions with others as a rejection of me.  We do that not out of speculation but because that is her patterns of behavior when confronted with controversial topics.  I am trying, as many of you have suggested, to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I also acknowledge that if she is rejecting me now, as my sister and I believe, she may come around as the dust settles from my announcement.  That is pretty much what I am hoping for at this point.

One thing I have learned in life and especially in my counseling program and internship is that silence often speaks louder than words.  Silence can speak both love and support, as well as rejection and hate.

The key for me right now is to accept this silence, what it means and make sure I take care of myself through this.

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