One of the most difficult things for me, in any relationship, is knowing when to speak up and when to just shush and let it go.
If you were to ask my husband, he would say that I should speak up any time that I have a concern or a thought–any time that I feel annoyed or hurt or inconvenienced in any way. He wants to know about it.
That can’t really be true, though. Right? If I voiced every little negative thought that popped into my head it would surely drain us both. And if I did that with my friends… I mean, right? You’d hate to be around me. No part of you would be like, “Oh, here comes our friend who exposes even the shittiest parts of her soul to us. What joy to bear witness to such honesty!”
I had a friend who only spoke in the negative. There was almost never good news coming from him. When he was around, if he wasn’t speaking everyone was at ease. When he’d open his mouth the whole group went on edge. Were we getting a simple annoyed day-to-day observation or are we on the cusp of a days-long-tirade about the inefficiency of a Ford F-150? And it had such an impression on me that I’m very intentional–probably too intentional–about peppering in something positive with the negatives. It probably has a lot to do with my over-commitment to emoticons and emojis. Oh bless the gracious heart that invented the emoji keyboard. And now I have GIFS at my fingertips? Never, since the discovery of pen-to-paper correspondence, have I been able to express myself so thoroughly in textual communication!
But there’s happy stuff, too, right?
Being an engaged-to-be-married person was difficult for me because, obviously I spent a lot of that time dancing in fields of wildflowers and joy and optimism and annoying enthusiasm. But some people just aren’t ready for that. And that drains them, too! What’s worse than the person who sees the bad in everything? The person who has a never ending list of what’s so awesome about everything in the whole world.
“Oh my God you got pulled over on your way to work today? Well at least you got a chance to roll your window down and breathe in this fresh, crisp springtime air!” It’s difficult for me to reign it in.
And then I become so self-aware that I tend to not speak up even in times when maybe I should. At work, for example, my boss will be quickly running over something he needs for me to know and I’m not understanding at all and rather than ask for clarification, my brain waves a hand and says, “don’t bother him, we’ll just wing it from here.”
But then there’s important stuff. A friend says something that hurts me–she didn’t mean anything by it. Do I work on just getting over it and not make it a bigger deal than it needs to be? Or do I make sure that she knows that what she said bothered me?
Every time that the trash can gets full I go through an existential crisis:
A. I don’t want to take out the garbage at all. It’s possibly my second least favorite chore of all of the chores.
B. I know that Ryan will do it if I asked him to.
C. I’m a strong, competent woman in this world and I don’t need a man to take out the garbage for me!
D. But I don’t waaaaaaana!
E. It’s been a few days, Ryan notices the garbage needs to go out. He takes it out. With a smile on his face like he does everything in this world.
F. I’m the worst for pushing him to a point where he knew that my lazy ass wasn’t going to take out the garbage so he had to do it yet again (insert 274 other personal complains about me)! (I know that’s not how his brain works at all but mine certainly does.)
Maybe skip all of those things and just ask him if he wouldn’t mind taking out the garbage? Or… just take it out yourself. But, no. I’ll just clam up and have an argument by myself in my brain. I think I’d prefer that method of problem solving instead.
I’m getting better, though. I really am. Regarding complaining, I have instituted some rules.
1. If my complaint is about a person–I will say nothing if it has to do with the person’s personality or beliefs system. I don’t want to change the personality of the people that I love so much. Even if it’s getting on my nerves right now it all comes together to make this delicious human-stew (editorial note: never again use the phrase “human stew”) and it needs all of the ingredients.
2. If there is no solution to my complaint, I will do my very best to just shush. If I must say something–I will try to make it not a complaint but an opportunity for conversation.
Does anyone else have this issue or am I just spending too much time in my mind? Do you have any tricks for knowing whether or not it’s a good time to speak or shush?