I’m a great talker, but I’m not a big one for conversations- which is an issue given that I’m linking up with the lovely Sarah Wayland at That Space in Between and the topic is What I Know About Conversations. Hmmmm.

The conversations in question here are those conversations- the ones that bring up issues and questions that Mean Something. I tend to avoid these. How do I do this? Usually by surrounding myself with people who have these conversations with me.

I’m genuinely interested in listening to what others have to say- what they’re passionate about, what they’re concerned about, what is going on that makes them seriously not fine. I’m less willing to return the favour. I distract by appearing to share- but in most cases, I’m not really.

I spoke a bit about this over on the astro site a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about how I tend to hold onto emotions, I contain them as if they’d fit into a jug I can keep in the fridge. Here’s part of what I wrote:

Sometimes the container leaks, sometimes it overflows, sometimes it all pours in too quickly and I can’t catch it, very very occasionally the container gets dropped and it all runs out. Usually the spillages are alcohol related. Don’t judge me.

Rarely, though, do I share any of it willingly- and when I do, it’s like popping an ice cube in a glass and topping it up with something else. It helps avoid the major trips and spills- and the two people in the world who have ever seen this would agree that it’s best avoided.

Which leads me to another four words I don’t like:

How do you feel?

The thing is, when people ask how you feel:

  • Mostly they don’t want to know how you feel, they want to know how you are- there’s a very big difference.
  • Articulating your feelings is tantamount to risking them- to judgment, ridicule or diminishment.
  • Talking about it brings with it an implied pressure to do something about it. Just because I let something slip under the influence, doesn’t mean that I want to repeatedly revisit it when next time the same person brings it up…or the time after that or the time after that

What I didn’t say is that the main reason I don’t share is that I’m not convinced that anyone is interested in hearing about my issues- so I don’t risk seeing their eyes glaze over with boredom.

Those who I do have conversations with- real conversations- tend to be those who get it without me having to actually say it. We’ve had whole conversations where anyone else listening would wonder at what had been said, yet we would have heard it all.

It’s a little like the song:

you say it best, when you say nothing at all…

A few years ago I had need to see a counsellor/coach. It was the only way I could avoid breaking the dam wall. Here was somebody who I’d paid to be interested in what I had to say- and yet I still couldn’t say it- not properly, not at first.

She didn’t push and I soon found myself talking in the same non talking way. She got it. She didn’t ask how I felt about it or what I thought about it or what I was going to do about it- she seemed to know that I don’t put rationale or logic behind emotions.  There was no judgment, no ridicule and no solutions offered that I hadn’t asked for.

I use these tactics with Miss 15.

Astrologically, she processes emotions by making a detached set of connections, acting and then moving on. I give her space to do this and then foster an environment where, in the process of doing something physical or practical, she’ll have a real conversation with me. It provides her with a safe environment in which to talk without feeling as though she’s being asked to do so, and it allows me to check in with her without her realising it.

Then we put on loud music.

7 Comments on “What I know about…conversations…

  1. Hmmm…. so much to think about and process. I was going to write that I have ‘conversations’ with my mother and close friends – where I talk about things that matter and things that worry me or how I’m coping etc. But it occurs to me that I’m ridiculously open – with my feelings in particular – so I’ll have that kind of conversation with almost anyone. I get your point about people not-caring or their eyes glazing over and risking putting your feelings out there. I think I’m overly glib for that reason.

    So I’ll talk to a stranger about being unsure whether to pursue business stuff or get a part-time job; or I’ll talk about my weight gain etc but I’ll do it in a self-deprecating way. I suspect I do the same in my blogging. I try to be honest but I joke a bit so I don’t sound quite so pathetic, or so I sound as if I don’t really care. That way I’m not risking my feelings as much.

    Does that make sense? (Sorry to blither on for so long… I wrote this as I processed it!!!)

    • I was thinking more about this & just what it says about me that I couldn’t go to my Mum- who is, by the way, a very good Mum…I just couldn’t go to her to talk about stuff. As much as I love her, we’re way too different & I’m sure she’d judge me.

      • I completely understand. I keep ‘a bit’ of stuff back from my mum, but in the absence of a partner (and in recent years cos they’re coupled up and we catch up less often) and close friends.

        That’s not to say I don’t talk to my close friends about stuff, but we see each other in person less and it makes it harder. Other than my mum there’s probably only 2-3 friends I’d lay myself ‘bare’ with!

  2. Some people will want to know how you feel and some people will just want to know how you are. The art of knowing who is who is the art of friendship. x

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