Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tongue-Tied

So, I haven’t posted in a while. There are a couple of reasons that, in addition to being true, have the added benefit of being relevant.

The first is that the first wash of entries in which I stood up and said that I am depressed really felt good. It lifted my mood considerably just to write about it in a public way. I have no idea way. I’m a very private person and generally find sharing to be a particularly icky experience. But for whatever reason I wound up being less depressed and, consequently, didn’t have much depression to blog about.

The second reason that I haven’t made any entries in a while is that I almost didn’t get everything done last month that I was supposed to. I work from home and earn my living from a variety of different sources. In some cases I have my own customers and in other cases I have clients for whom I perform services. Those are measured monthly and my depression became so dark and debilitating in early June that I didn’t get much work done. And the work that I did do was so disgraceful that I simply had to redo it later. Luckily the clouds lifted as a result of this blog and the pure adrenaline brought on by the approaching deadlines. So, I didn’t have time to post those last few days of last month.

But here we are at the fifth of July. I managed to wrap up last month without missing any of those deadlines. It took me a few days to clean up the resulting mess but now I’m caught up and things are on track. In fact yesterday I got ahead! I was feeling pretty good about myself for a couple of hours last night until the phone rang.

No, it wasn’t bad news. It was my step-daughter-in-law. (Is that right? She married my step-son.) She was calling to speak to my wife – they’re great friends – but being a very polite and outgoing person she chatted with me for a bit as she always does before asking to be passed on. I find her to be very intimidating because in addition to being outgoing she is also very smart – a combination that translates into cleverness.

I am a very slow talker; partially because I put a lot of thought into choosing my words and partially because I have a very mild speech impediment. Most people probably don’t notice the impediment. It’s kind of like a stutter except that I don’t stutter, I just stop and the words can’t come out. It’s as though some mechanically has gone wrong and I briefly can’t form words.

Anyway, it’s no big deal and I’m comfortable with that part of me; except when I’m speaking to someone like my step-daughter-in-law. Then I feel like a slow witted oaf. I try to respond in kind to what she has to say but I’m never really able to. My social anxiety kicks in and I just want to crawl under a rock. By the time I handed the phone to my wife last night I felt completely humiliated. Even though it was relatively early I went to bed while they chattered on the phone for an hour and a half.

But before that I was happy, content and carefree for a couple of hours and it was wonderful.

3 comments:

cassie said...

You know, this is all so interesting. Is it really that you have social anxiety or is it just that you don't trust people to receive your communication in a positive way? I wish you would also post what your astrological sign is (although a sun sign is only ever part of your bigger picture). Are you a.... Virgo? Virgos are notoriously analytical, often shy, and hard on themselves.

Up until my depression hit me 18 years ago, I was the most socially ept person you can imagine. I still appear to be a person so at ease in social situations but have become increasingly hermit like over the years and am currently avoiding them for many reasons. Many years ago I realized that people will see what they want to see and rarely see who we really are. The more attuned you are and aware you are of others thought processes, the more difficult it is to be in social situations. Whether or not you feel socially awkward in them. You see what I'm saying? Let go of your "socially awkward" label man. THe word/label is a form of self-flagellation IMO.

It's hard to explain what I'm thinking here. Okay, so make what you will of the following:
AGes and ages ago I saw this interview on some show like 20/20 about this man who said he was the smartest man in America. So right away as a viewer you think "What an ass" but you get curious to hear what he has to say. Especially since, by profession he was a firefighter and a bouncer. How smart could he be? So by the end of the segment he had me pretty convinced that he just could be the smartest man in America. Two of his observations really made me smile and I hope they do the same for you. The first was, when asked "If you are so smart, why aren't you rich?" he answered, because how smart you are has nothing to do with how much money you make. HAHAHAHA. I started liking this guy. He also said something which boiled down to "At a certain point, you realize that most of the time you have so much more understanding of things than the rest of the people in the room that you start to feel lonely and isolated even when you are with so many people". It is not arrogance in his case. ANd I hope I don't sound like "What an Ass" when I say I totally relate, although I would never say I am the smartest person, I am pretty confident in my capacity to think and know... alot, and have been told by many people that I am the smartest person they have ever known. A life that has been spent absorbing an inordinate amount of information and observing and processing everything you see, well you get to a point where you know THE OTHER is likely to misunderstand what you are saying and it is isolating. Anyway, enough with the 'splainin. I just get what he was trying to say. You can understand the other and often can see that they do not have the capacity/interest/insight to understand you.

BUt back to you MR. TPOH, probably nobody really even thinks about or cares that you might be "Socially awkward" and please don't dwell on that. And also, people like me who can have a conversation with just about anyone, well I think I would much rather have a conversation with somebody like you (so far anyway- I hope you don't reveal that you are evil in future posts) because most of the time I feel like I am talking to people and am so engaging because I have an instant insight into who they are and what they are interested in but I realize they are so engaged because of my understanding of what interests them, and they don't realize that I am a bit sad all the while smiling through the conversation because I know they don't know or care really about what interests me/who I really am/what occupies my mind.

When in doubt in social situations, always talk about the other person. That will keep them happy and talking for ages and buy you and your "socially awkward arse" some time and breathing room.

see part 2 (not enough space)

cassie said...

Also, most socially awkward people shouldn't be, and why the hell isn't someone like Howard Stern suffering from it instead? Man I hate that guy. The fact that PAris Hilton and Kim Kardashian et al are not suffering from social awkwardness is proof that we've all got so much of our shite backwards. N'est pas?

But I digress.

So anyway, the fact that you are a slow talker wouldn't bother any decent person and it is a matter of trust and respect on your part. Ie. do you think your daughter-in-law is a decent soul? If so, trust her not to be a judgmental jerk. I personally think (although I know some people who would mightily disagree) that a southern drawl for example (which to some is considered a speech impediment) is endearing. Don't you think that as long as a person is a good hearted soul it doesn't matter?

Here's what the greener grass looks like from my side: Oh I can hold a compelling conversation alright, part of me is very outgoing indeed. But I feel like a jackass after the fact and go over everything I said over and over kicking myself for not having the ability to be quiet and reticent. Because the other part of me is so private, I hate anyone knowing anything about me at all, and lately I have become more vocal about what interests me (sometimes to the horror or dismay of said others). Which brings me back to why I'm such a good converationalist to most everyone I meet. I can talk about almost any topic because I'm interested in everything. But like I said, or perhaps only inferred, I know that what I am interested in is not of most peoples concern and so I don't always feel connected or enriched by the conversation. As a result, I don't seek out many conversations anynore, even though the invitations are a plenty. I do however, so far anyway, feel like I totally get your mindset and that is comforting to me for a change.

Now I am going to do something so out of character... so outlandish. I won't re-read and hyperanalyze what I have written here. I'm just going to press send and hope what I have said here doesn't keep me up all night secondguessing myself for being such a jackass. I know I will but anyway...

Okay, you know I totally re-read it at least once. And all those typos! I would have died!

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