Posted by: terrapraeta | June 15, 2009

Talk to Me


I’ve asked myself
How much do you
commit yourself?

It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
it never ends
It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
it never ends
It’s my life
Don’t you forget
Caught in the crowd
it never ends

Talk Talk, It’s My Life

I had an interesting email conversation with a friend of mine the other day. It was mostly chit chat and joking around, but at one point she threw the following observation at me:

It’s amazes me more and more what honest communication can do. What puzzles me is why it’s not our natural default.

In my mind, it really is our natural default, but years of socialization in this messed up culture we live in drives us away from honest communication. The biggest threat when opening oneself to another is the fear of rejection, dismissal, of being laughed at or ignored. While basic empathy discourages us from treating people we care about this way, it is also the case that we have been taught all our lives to expect such responses and, in many cases, we have been taught to look down upon anyone that engages in such openness. Because to do is weak, or pitiful or simply, TMI.Once we have internalized these negative expectations and responses to openness and honesty, they becomes very difficult to overcome.

From my own experience, I would say that the more one does open up, the easier it gets. But that is too simple, just the same. I think the most bizarre thing we have found – perhaps ‘unexpected’ is the best word – is that it makes it harder for us to communicate with people other than each other. As we have opened ourselves to one another, we have learned to be expressive and self reflective and to honestly share those thoughts and feelings with one another – yet, when we talk with someone else, we are not quite comfortable doing the same thing, but we are also noticeably different from the average person one meets on the street.

As a result, when we are with other people, we find ourselves closing off interactions with others because we do not want to scare them away. It’s as if we always invoke a certain level of intimacy when we talk. Neither of us is really aware of what behavior patterns cause this, so we cannot just stop doing certain things. And I even wonder if it is more subtle than that – body language or vocal tones that other people don’t really recognize, but simply register as somehow other.

Interestingly, we probably would have not even realized this, except for our interactions with Laura and Eddie. Because we are close to them, but not yet able to fully engage at this level of intimacy, they both recognize this difference in us, but are also comfortable enough to tell us so. It does make me wonder what it would be like to have this openness with an entire community of people. A small community, mind, but just the same…. what if we lived with a group of people that did have this as their natural default?

That is something I would like to see one day.

(Originally Posted March 23, 2007)

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