Speaking/Not-Speaking


This afternoon I went for a walk with Nancy. She has been very focused on her garden for the last month or so and we haven't spent much time together. When I don't spend much time with Nancy, that means I'm not spending much time with anyone. I see people at work, but in a limited way. Generally, Nancy is the only person I talk to much in person.

I have noticed many times in the past that if I don't talk for a day (or more), it's harder for me to talk when I start talking again. Today was an especially awkward case. Although I had "talked" in a limited way while Nancy drove us to the place where we were starting our walk, it was not until we were getting out of the car that I reached the point of being able to generate speech/topics of my own (as opposed to responding to what Nancy said).

I had been wanting to fill Nancy in on my experience at _____ last Monday. (If I don't keep her up to date on my life, the events/experiences accumulate to the point where I can't think about telling her things without feeling overwhelmed.) So I "girded my loins" (gathered my energy) and embarked on the story. It is a rather complicated tale to relate, because it has a lot of characters. When I was a couple of minutes into it, Nancy stopped me and said, "I got distracted and missed the last part of what you said. Go back a couple of sentences."

But I couldn't! I was like a balloon when all of the air has been let out. Suddenly, I had zero energy for talking. I couldn't even remember why I'd ever wanted to talk, to tell Nancy anything. None of it seemed to matter. None of it made any sense when put into words. And I had no idea how to go about reconstructing and articulating "the last part" of what I'd said.

When I realized I couldn't react properly to Nancy's request, I tried to just stop (stop talking) and say it didn't matter. "Never mind." That made her angry, though. Much later, I realized that she thought I was punishing her, retaliating for her lapse of attention. But that wasn't it. It had nothing to do with her, it was just something that happened inside me that cut off my ability to tell the story, to put the words together and speak them.

She didn't understand that at all, and I couldn't seem to explain it at all. So after about ten minutes of her getting angrier, I finally managed to go on and say more about _____. Not what I'd wanted to say when I'd first started out, but something. Enough to satisfy her (to make her feel she wasn't being punished).

One reason I do try to tell Nancy about things in my life is that having her know about me keeps me from feeling like I don't exist. But the price for that can be high at times. It would be so much easier in some ways if I never had to try to communicate with anyone in person. But I know that would be dangerous for me.



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