I am an outgoing person who doesn’t appear to have many secrets. Basically, if a thought enters my mind it usually shoots right to my mouth without stopping by my brain to see if there’s any reason not to blurt it out. This tendency can shock those people who are shy or who ponder their words before they speak.
In some ways, that makes it very easy to be around me; you usually know what I’m thinking. As long as you don’t mind hearing my honest opinion we’ll get along great. If your feelings are easily hurt, it can cause problems.
My daughter Molly inherited this trait. There were so many times when she was a teenager when she’d drop a bombshell on me that I can’t even begin to count them. When this would happen, it would take every ounce of restraint on my part not to shake her and yell, “Why don’t you lie to me like your sisters did?” I had to remind myself it was healthier for her to share her thoughts with me than to hide things, no matter how uncomfortable it could be at times.
I would really like to share some of the specifics of these conversations, but it’s recently come to my attention that all three of my daughters read my blog regularly and for some reason think they should be allowed some degree of privacy. If any of them choose to share their stories with you they are welcome to add them to the comments. Or write their own blog. Just trust me though, some of the stories are hilarious.
What I realized a few years ago though, is that when you’re known for speaking your mind, it’s easy to hide in plain sight. It’s like a magician getting you to focus on one hand while doing sleight of hand with the other. Often, when I appear to be sharing everything, I am hiding things that I am still working on or don’t feel like sharing.
There are some things I don’t discuss because I am pretty oblivious to things that our society considers important. For instance, sports. I like sports. I participated in sports up until 5 years ago when I had a neck injury. However, watching sports is not something I do on my own.
It amazes me how much social interaction centers around sporting events. People talk about the game, the players, and the competition constantly. For the last two years the Kansas City sporting teams have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and this city is obsessed. Sometimes I feel like an alien dropped into a world of sports and sports teams.
When I walked away from my full-time job two years ago I gave up my very expensive cable contract. I have no antenna for my television, so my viewing pleasure is pretty much limited to the offerings of Netflix. I am more than happy with that decision but it leaves me unable to converse about any show or event that is running currently.
Not watching “regular” television is not as rare as it used to be. Almost thirty years ago I quit watching television for the first year after my divorce. At that time, everyone was watching pretty much the same show every night. I was amazed at how much of social conversation at that time centered on what everyone had watched the night before.
Other subjects I tend to keep quiet about are more personal. I rarely discuss my love life anymore. There is no one in my life that makes me feel like climbing on the rooftop and bellowing my love for. There are men in my life, but I am still working on patterns and issues that I really wish I’d worked through by now. I have allowed behavior from men that I would slap one of my daughters for allowing. This does not make me particularly proud.
One of the big reasons I allow sub-par behavior in relationships is I have been on my own too long to conceptualize having someone in my space on a daily basis. I have no idea what it would look like to have someone there when I need or want them there, but still be allowed the freedom to come and go as I want. If anyone’s got that one figured out, please let me know. If you know an age-appropriate man who knows how to do that, isolate him quickly before someone else finds this gem and then let me know where to find him.
I also struggle to talk about my mom right now, so I seldom do. The pain of her passing is still too new and raw to talk about without dissolving into tears. Every time I have good news or bad news to share, the habit of reaching for the phone to call and tell her is still deeply ingrained. Every time I reach for the phone and stop myself from calling her the pain flares up again.
In the 57 years I had with Mom there were lots of good times and funny stories. I try to focus on those and, as time goes by and it gets easier, I will share those stories. Right now though, I’m not ready to talk about them.
My children would tell you I am also reticent to discuss my health. For whatever reason I have always chosen to keep any concerns to myself and only bring them up when I feel it’s necessary. I tell myself, and others, that I don’t like to talk about these things because I don’t like drama. That is true, but I also recognize you can’t receive support if no one knows you’re in need of it. I’m working on that one.
Sharing these thoughts publicly makes me really uncomfortable. I would much prefer to entertain with a few jokes and wry observations. It’s called a comfort zone for a reason. However, I am a big believer that if it doesn’t make you bleed when you write it you don’t need to share it. So, I’m bleeding a little.
Next time you’re at a party and you see someone who is laughing loudly and sharing funny stories, appreciate their humor. But after the laughter, try looking a little deeper; try asking a few questions. It’s easy to get the blatant messages, it’s a lot more interesting to get the unspoken ones.