I am not very good at talking.
Correction: I can talk, and I have had many deep, personal conversations in my life, however…much of what I want to share goes unsaid, left to tumble around in my head, the words never making the trip from my brain to vocal chords over my tongue and through my lips.
Why can’t I open my mouth and speak? Why can’t I say what needs to be said to the people who need to hear it? Fear of being judged? Of being told my thoughts aren’t valid and I wasted everyone’s time by sharing what was on my mind? Of thinking my opinion doesn’t matter and I should have just kept quiet?
Whatever my reason is, I am scared of talking. The potential for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and hurting someone I care about with my words is real. It’s been done before and it’ll happen again. Times I have spoken my mind and made my feelings known didn’t end well. In fact, one such time ended up being the catalyst that ruined my marriage. Logically, to me, that means “don’t talk. You ruin things when you do.”
That’s not fair of me. My marriage was in decline long before I opened my mouth, but it’s difficult to not assume cause and effect was the reason for divorce. Neglect and growing apart played a major role in the split, as well as terrible overall communication between us. But we were young and in love and wanted to prove the world wrong, that we’d not be like our parents and fight for our relationship instead of let it crumble.
I believe the word I’m looking for is naïve.
I have never been good at talking. I have memories of my mother learning the way to get me to talk is to get me into a car, strapping me into the seatbelt, and driving, asking me questions to get me to open up. I didn’t have anywhere to run and hide when she did that, unless I wanted to open the car door and jumo out, which seems a bit drastic to avoid a conversation, so instead, I gave in and talked to my mom. To this day, she’s one of very few people to whom I can actually speak freely to. Well, that, and if I don’t talk to her, she gets very angry with me and no one wants that. (Love you, Mommy.)
As I got older and more stubborn in my refusal to talk, I discovered alcohol is a great social lubricant. If I drink enough, my brain allows me to speak freely. I have found my solution! If you want me to talk, fill me with booze and I won’t shut up! I’ll talk to you about anything! Just keep the drinks coming!
But…that’s not a solution. I need to learn to be able to talk without alcohol making it so. A friend of mine told me a few years ago, “I hate that you have to be drunk to talk openly to me.”
I hate it, too. I do. Mainly because in order to have the ability to talk, I have to be drunk constantly, which some might be thinking, “and the problem with that is…?” Well, the problem is technically, that makes me an alcoholic.
You know what the ironic thing about all this is? I get upset when other people don’t talk to me, yet here I am, also not talking. Oh, Erin! You silly girl!
I know it’s a major problem with me. I’ve ruined some relationships with my lack of talking. Granted, one instance turned out to be a very good thing I didn’t talk because it was toxic from day one and he was what is referred to as “a huge mistake.” Live and learn, I suppose.
Another thing I hear a lot is “how can you write so freely and be so open and honest, but can’t speak?”
Well…it’s like this. Writing allows me my voice without being in a situation where confrontation is possible. I can express myself without being interrupted. I can express myself without the previous fears mentioned. Do I realize this is a giant cop-out and unfair to people? Absolutely. Do I feel bad for being able to blabber on while writing but can’t usually form more than a few spoken words? Without a doubt. Do I want to change this? I do, truly.
So how do I do that? I haven’t been able to figure that out yet. All I ask for is patience with me, which is unfair to you who need to hear my thoughts. A person can only give me so much leeway before you grow tired of me, and I don’t blame you for that at all. It’s beyond frustrating. But…well, there are no buts. I know my flaw and have had people leave my life because of it, but stubbornness allows me to reconcile this by telling myself “if they truly want to be a part of your life, they’ll make it work.” While that’s true to some extent, that is hardly an excuse to justify my behavior.
I need help. I need to teach myself to talk, which sounds ridiculous coming from a 34 year old woman. Can this old dog be taught a new trick? Perhaps.
I’m willing to do this. I want to talk to you. I have to. No more excuses.
Let’s go for a drive.