Friday, January 7, 2011

They Fail To Tease Out Details

"... [he] had the ability to insert full stops in conversations, when and where he wished them."

The Imperfectionists
Tom Rachman


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You Don't Talk

"You don't talk," someone says to me.

These are dreaded words to hear while in the midst of any interaction. But when these words are uttered by someone close to me, they're more than dreaded. They're hurtful.

When a stranger or casual acquaintance says this to me, I feel pegged into a corner. I feel myself descending a vortex of self-consciousness, down into a personal house of mirrors. I become immobile with self-reflection. My thoughts reel with what the stranger must be seeing in me. Although several verbal responses occur to me, none of them seem to do me justice; they all seem either petty or defensive or insufficient. I'd rather just confirm the stranger's notion by not responding.

When it's a friend who says such a thing, however, I feel misunderstood, confused and hurt. Do they not see that my interaction and conversation thus far adds up to much more than most people ever get from me? Do they not see that I'm trying my best, that what I do say already feels like a lot, that, in truth, it feels like I'm blabbering? Do they not see that I'd be faking if I gave any more? And after all that we've been through, how can that be the single epitaph that is pinned on me? I feel lost and unsure of my value as a friend and human being. I question whether I should try so hard to be a friend when, after everything, I'm still seen in the very same light that complete strangers see me in.

What is it about such simple statements that makes them into blunt weapons? Is it the truth in the words that gets to me? Or is it the untruth? Has the mark been hit, or has it become blurred until it's unrecognizable?

Sometimes, I think perhaps these words are used as a ploy to goad me into talking more. If so, then it doesn't work well. For me, it has the opposite effect. I'll want to give less, if only because I feel that I've been made out to be less than I am. It's a petty reaction, I know, but that's how I feel.

One way or another, it seems that there's a lack of perceptiveness in this equation. It's either that others cannot see more in me, or it's that I actually present myself as someone whose personality can be boiled down to those three words: "you don't talk."

I hope neither of those scenarios is true.