This weekend, while we were out of town for a wedding, we had a lot of time to kill Sunday morning while waiting for our brunch plans to materialize. We spent the morning walking near our hotel, through a shopping district, mostly people watching while we waited for the stores to open.
Matt made two comments about my personality that I want to record. The first was him thanking me, for my tone of voice. That I "know how to talk so that the only people who hear me are the ones I'm actually talking to." Both that Sunday morning, and the Friday before at the baseball game, we were surrounded by people who talked incredibly loudly, obnoxiously, perhaps not intentionally. They clearly thought they were so fascinating that everyone wanted to hear about what kind of beer they liked, how their future children would wear their hair, where they were when Bin Laden was shot, that they didn't know where peanuts came from. People like that tend to force me to revert into a deeper shell, to the point that at the baseball game I had to leave our seats for awhile to avoid an anxiety attack. (That one of the jerks was tossing peanut shells down my back certainly helped with that though.)
So it's true. I don't really have a loud voice on a regular basis. My throat hurts after we've been to a restaurant with loud music. It's part of the reason I am loathe to hang out at bars. Part of it is that I'm really a snarky bitch, and a lot of what I mumble under my breath would probably get me punched, but part of it is that my regular daily conversation is meant for those I'm with. Those I trust. Those I care about. I'm not a public person. I've told a total of 10 people about this blog - the people I care about the most, that will help me the most on this journey, that inspire me. I only recently unlocked my Twitter account, and I'll probably lock it again at some point. I get hives every time I have to speak, even at work, even though I've known and taught those people for over a decade. So yeah, some of it is snark. But some of it is that I just don't believe that I have anything to say that anyone would be interested in hearing. Tied to that, is that I really don't want to draw attention to myself. I don't go to bars, because I take up too much space. Same thing goes for things like concerts, or ballgames. Why didn't I tell the jerk behind me to shove his peanut shells down his big mouth? Because I didn't want to be called a fat bitch. Again. (And I didn't want Matt to kill someone. He had no idea about this, and when I confessed it on the way home, well, I'm glad I didn't tell him then.)
Am I ever going to be comfortable in the public eye? Probably not. It's just not in my nature. It's genetic. But I need to start to value my own words.
As a counterpoint, the other thing Matt pointed out to me was that I always give people more information than they might need. I think some of this comes from being a librarian, someone who values information, someone who fills a service role. Some of it comes from having worked retail. I make a concerted effort to treat everyone in a retail or service role as a human being, not someone to serve me, but as an equal with a job to be respected. Eye contact. A kind word. A smile. It's really the least I can do.
So yesterday we poked our heads into a Trader Joe's in Ohio, looked around the booze section, and walked back out. It was too early to legally buy anything, but we were curious. On our way out, the manager approached us and wanted to know if we had found everything we were looking for, since we were clearly leaving empty handed. Matt just kept walking with a brisk nod. But I babbled "Oh no, we're from Pennsylvania, so we were just looking at all of the alcohol. We'll be back later when we can purchase something." That's when Matt pointed it out to me. I'm not quite the queen of TMI, but I do tell people more than they probably expect. I don't want that manager to think that there's something wrong with his store. I've been there. If I can offer a compliment, or an explanation, I generally will.
A lot of that was how I was raised. Our family communicates. Ad nauseam. We're talkers, but we also touch base regularly, even now, as a habit from when Dad was deployed. So if a few words can ease the way for someone else, I'll do it. A text message to Mom that we're safe in Ohio, and home again. Things like that.
So I've got a different post brewing in my brain over being Type A or not, and I really think that what it comes to is that I see it as being nurturing. Not motherly, since lord knows I'm not interested in going there, but I want to help people, care for them, and have them care back. And I think truly that a lot of my stress over the past few months has been not as much a lack of control, as a lack of communication. If I can do something to ease a strain, lessen a stress, offer some compassion, I will. But I've got to know that you (royal you, none of you who are reading this) need that. I'm not asking for people to share like I do, because man, I obviously know how to over-share. But I think I'm asking for simple courtesies. Like if I'm expecting to see someone somewhere, it would be nice to know that they weren't coming. Or if I invite someone somewhere, it's fine, truly, that they don't want to go. Just tell me. Don't not answer an email or a text because you think it will hurt my feelings. Being ignored hurts more.
That ties into the self esteem thing again. If you're late for something, and don't tell me you're late, it feels like you don't value my time as much as your own. I'm going to automatically go to the worst case scenario. Not that you've got a lot going on in your own life, because I really don't know that, especially if you don't tell me, but that it's me. I really just naturally assume that people would rather not spend time with me, and as I dip further into the depression, it's easier and easier to believe.
I really don't know what to do about that though. I think truly, that until I feel like I'm in a better place emotionally, that I'll just need to barrier myself from people who hurt me. Because that's easier, in my head, than telling them "hey, the fact that you do X really is a pain in the ass." Perhaps not in the long run, and it's not fair for me to not share information with them (perhaps not over-sharing for once?), but for now, I need to do what I need to do to preserve my own sense of self. Because this struggle is too painful on it's own to add in other people in the mix.