Friday, November 16, 2007

withholding information

I've noticed something about myself that I've known for a long time, but never really pondered until after this last move. If a friend or family member calls and asks me, "How are you?" I will ALWAYS say, "Good!" or "Fine." even if things are not good or fine. Then, since other people don't seem to have this reticence, I will patiently listen to all their complaints, woes, struggles, illnesses, and whines for a very, very long time. It is at this point, after the caller has exhausted all their issues, that I might see if they'll listen to me. Maybe. I might say what is really going on in my life or I might not say a word.

Often I've found that once I'm ready to open up, the caller is ready to say "Bye!" and go about their business. People rarely extend the same patience in listening to me as I extend to them. Interesting, huh? There are only a few people who can get me to open up sooner than "my" time frame or who I will immediately and honestly share my concerns with on the phone. This little quirk of mine has also helped me to know who really cares about what is going on in my life. If I could recall when this behavior pattern started, I could probably figure out why it started. I have a feeling it began many years ago, when some "friend" enjoyed talking about themselves and I stayed their friend because I enabled this behavior by learning to repress my concerns.

I do have several online friends that I've known for years. They tend to hear exactly what is going on in my life. Maybe that is why we are friends. Perhaps we wouldn't be friends if we talked on the phone and I did my weird withholding information habit until they were done talking. Or perhaps they are people who are more like me and we can be more forthcoming online because they know I'm "listening" to them and I know they'll wait for me to tell it all when I'm ready. I have a feeling that even on the phone, I would open up to them right away because I trust them - but let's not test that, ok?

I also never say "Yes, it is a bad time" when asked if it's a good time, but that's a whole other issue.


Memories of yesterday said...

((hugs)) I get what you are saying. For some reason, for me, if I can just say what is going on it helps. I am learning, albeit slowly, that it's okay if no one responds. I either pretend the email didn't go through, or that they are just busy. Sometimes even caring people are so caught up in what is going on with them that they don't notice what is going on with you. I know it seems silly, but have you ever noticed after someone gets a haircut they wont notice if you colored your hair blue because they are waiting for you to notice their change? I think it's the same with other things as well. ((hugs)) I am glad you have some people to open up to sweetie. (And I'm the same with phones. NOt so crazy about them! LOL)

Jane said...

I hope I'm a good listener & not just a talker.