Like many abuse survivors riddled with anxiety, I can talk too much, or I always feel like I had when leaving a conversation. It’s from the anxiety in me that’s always set anywhere from a chronic low level to a blinding and paralyzing high level. The talking comes out of several sub-reasons: I don’t think I’ll be believed, even over the simplest of things; I’m afraid I won’t be understood or fail to explain something right; afraid I’ll leave something out and the other person won’t think to ask me, leaving a perhaps important piece of information out of the conversation that will be needed later; or from thinking I have to justify why I did or said or thought the thing that I’m retelling so that the other person will agree it was the right thing.
I did it again today when handing in an application for disaster relief from a major heavy rainfall our town went through recently, harming my foundation that was already damaged from a previous flooding. Dealing with such an important matter had me more anxious than average.
It’s like I’m always afraid someone will look hard at me. It’s like everyone else is my authority, ready to crush me on a whim, ready to accuse me of lying, exaggerating, or will just want to make me fight for what I genuinely need just to demean me. Growing up, and even now, my parents have taken the position to disbelieve and dismiss me on almost everything. I often feel my eyes and face wince while talking to them knowing that I’m not being believed over the simplest of things. I never gave them cause, it was simply a position they took with me since I was a small child.
I just realized in writing this that it may not be that my parents never believed me but that they were just always on the side of saying “no” to me. It’s that balking on their part that, when I come to them with a need, I feel like I have to make a case for it. Sometimes they’ll seem askance but maybe they’re just doing that as an excuse to say no. Come to think of it, when I’ve successfully convinced them (easy to do because my needs were never lies or exaggerations) they always finally accept it without any mention that they had just accused me of lying. They seem to be just throwing out there the possibility that I’m lying about a need just to make me have to take extra steps in my requests.
Well, I went to hand in my claim telling myself that there should be no reason that they wouldn’t approve me and that I don’t need to use whoever I speak to as an anxiety purge. A lady went over my application with me and said they’ll have someone contact me that afternoon or, if all is well, in a couple of weeks. So my mission was complete and I was free to go. Yes, if I was normal.
But I’m not normal and I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I’m having to deal with on my own, so the next thing I must do is relieve my anxiety about the dehumidifier I was borrowing and wanted to give back to my neighbour, and about maybe spraying some bleach water mixture around down there. I needed to convince her I was doing what I could to minimize damage but there wasn’t much I could do. It’s like I go into a visual tunnel and don’t really see the person anymore (I must be looking away and around as I’m gathering my thoughts) and when I finally notice them again I can see, like I did today, a look on their face like, “Geez Louise, we’re done here, when is she going to shut up and leave me alone?” It’s not a look like they’re just being polite, that look would have already passed and I missed it. This one is more of a stiff politeness born out of social awkwardness.
I’m embarrassed to retell it, but yes, this is how I am. I am conversationally broken. I’m never happy with how I talk to people in almost any conversation with anyone over any topic. Sometimes it’s just one sentence more than was needed. And sometimes it’s not that I said too much, it’s that I added something that I would otherwise had deemed not that person’s business. It’s a self-betrayal when I do that last one.
Each time I leave the house I tell myself to have some decorum and not to do it, and I do almost every. single. time. I can’t seem to stop.
I’m going to now challenge myself to make a post here the very next time I succeed in holding my end of a conversation in a manner that I’m satisfied with. I hope you don’t have to wait too long.