Friday, August 6, 2010

Right Handed Thinking, Left Handed Thoughts

I have no problems telling people what I like. It’s not that I’m picky about how I like things. Rather, I like too many things to ever really be picky. If I’m not in the mood for something, I’ll say so (while trying desperately to talk him out of it). But unless there’s some reason why doing a certain thing isn’t such a great idea, I truly don’t care.

I have no problems asking questions, talking about my day, explaining legal theory, and talking about books, movies, friends, family, religion, computers, food or anything else. I enjoy learning and I enjoy those kinds of conversations. OK, sometimes I do have problems deciding what to make for dinner, but that stems more from I'm happy with a bowl of cereal than anything else. I'm not picky.

What I seem to have problems with is just opening up when something is upsetting me. That I get annoyed, angry, confused, hurt, or disappointed isn't a surprise. I'm human. It happens. But the problem with not being able to just stop and say that I'm upset, annoyed, angry, confused, hurt, scared or disappointed is that instead of just saying “hey, I’m feeling a little X because I’m hearing XYZ, can we talk about it?”, I say to myself “it doesn’t matter”.

The fact is, it does matter. Very much.

My style of not talking comes from learned behaviors over a lifetime. Keep quiet, keep my thoughts to myself, keep away from controversy. All those behaviors learned from hard knocks, and being knocked around hard. A lifetime of learned behavior is difficult to change. It’s a lot like I’d imagine being right-handed all your life, and suddenly forced to be a leftie. Your left hand has always been there. You’ve just forgotten how to use it. I know that communication when things are going downhill is difficult for me. But knowing that doesn’t help me figure out a way to actually do it.

I’ve gone through periods where not much was expected of me in the way of communication. But looking back realistically, even then there was a problem with me swallowing my hurt or disappointment in favor of “not making waves” or “it’ll blow over”. And because it always DID blow over, I tended to think that the problem blew away with it.

The fact is, it never does.

I’m with someone who expects me to talk to him. Expects me to be able to put my feelings into words, to be able to express what I’m thinking in a coherent way when the turmoil inside my head from my feelings makes it difficult to even breathe. Most of all, he expects me to be completely open about anything and everything with him. And while being open about kinky things is easy, being open about something that is bothering me, is sometimes just too fucking hard. I don’t want to upset anyone else. I don’t want to hurt anyone else. I don't want to feel upset. I just want to forget about it. Not make those waves and let it blow over. And I can’t bear especially to see his face when I can’t just open my mouth and talk to him.

I suppose it is narcissistic of me to think that I can disappoint someone so greatly. I have to laugh at the self pity-party I’ve been having the past few days. It's the epitome of selfishness that, for whatever reason, I can't share a part of myself with him. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to care about what anyone thought except myself. I don’t know how to apologize for that except to say that I’m trying.

The fact is, if he didn’t mean so much to me, I’d have already given up trying to learn to do this. For him. For us. I’m still thinking right handed, when I’ve only got my left hand available to me.

So I’m resigned to one thought this morning. And that is, if he wants this one as much as I want to give it to him, this is one that we’re going to have to work on together. Left to my own, I’ll never tell a soul when something is bothering me. This may be one time where I can’t give him what he needs from me, without his helping me by taking it from me.

At least until I can think with my left hand.

1 comment:

nell said...

I empathize completely. This is something I've struggled with my whole life as well, and I'm in a similar situation of being with someone who expects me to communicate what's going on in my head.

I don't think of it as selfish though. It's hard to be that vulnerable, and we all want to show our best side to those we respect.

But I do understand. I think of my own struggles as my own burdens for me to bear, and I've gotten so used to shouldering that weight that when someone says, "Let me help carry some of that," it can seem like an unthinkable offer. Why would anyone else want that baggage?