anxiety · family · Mood swings · people · Thoughts and feelings · verbal communication

Not Explaining Myself to Others

Well. I became aware of a facet of one of my personal habits that I wasn’t aware of before. Sound confusing? Yeah. It’s like being so used to behaving a certain way in certain situations and not realizing my own behavior caused a disconnect between me and whoever I was communicating with.

Firstly I would like to state that my insecurities with communicating verbally started when I was very young for many reasons. My reactions in how I would respond to someone verbally would vary depending on the situation I was in. In some of the situations I find myself in today, I still feel the urge to react nonverbally out of habit or out of discomfort because I either haven’t formulated a reply yet or I don’t feel comfortable verbalizing my response. Other factors can play a part in why I chose to react by being nonverbal.

In both situations I am discussing in this post, the common thread is that I didn’t explain myself well to the people I was communicating with.

Situation #1 took place two days ago. I was preparing to go out to the mall with my parents. As I went to get my coat from the closet, I suddenly remembered that I had left it downstairs in the boiler room overnight to let it dry after it got wet from rain. Since it wasn’t that cold that day, I decided to look for one of my lighter coats rather than fetching the one I originally wanted.

My mom, who was also at the closet, reminded me that my coat was downstairs. Obviously I heard her although I didn’t respond verbally. In my mind, yes, her words registered within me but since I already knew where my coat was, it was like getting a second copy of the same information that I set aside. It didn’t even enter my head that the appropriate thing to do was to tell her, “Yeah, I know, but it’s warmer today so I think I’ll go with a thinner coat.” Partially I was really distracted with searching for my other coat, but it was also as if I exited the conversation without being aware I was expected to be part of the conversation. It’s awful but my default for when I’m both distracted and someone is trying to talk to me, I kind of tune the person out. I hear him/her, yet I’m not altogether there verbally and it’s almost like I forget that I can talk.

So when she repeated what she said, only this time louder and in a more annoyed tone, it took me a second to rein in my own irritation at her tone before I said, “It’s not that cold today.” In the minutes following this exchange, my goodness… I felt pissed off at how she spoke to me. All I could keep thinking was, What is her problem? because it sure seemed like she was the one being unreasonable for no good reason. Reevaluating the situation after I calmed down, it finally clicked into place. Her perception was that when I didn’t reply to her, I was either not listening to her or deliberately ignoring her advice. Yet in my viewpoint, I believed I hadn’t done anything wrong because I had acknowledged her in my mind. The problem was I didn’t give her any acknowledgment verbally and that’s how the misunderstanding arose. This is the first time I’ve ever caught myself in my own habit, though it’s definitely not the first time I’ve behaved this exact way in past situations and not been aware my non-verbalness was the issue.

Situation #2 took place today. It had more to do with me being non-verbal by omitting information or not even bringing it up because I don’t deem it “important” enough to speak up about. This scenario was also a little different from Situation #1, in that I’ve been aware for a while now about the mechanisms of why I act like this but am reluctantly coming to terms with it now in writing.

The jist of what happened was I got a mild headache in the afternoon. It wasn’t so bad that I needed to get into bed or that I felt nauseous but I was slightly tired and moody because of it. My default for this type of thing is to deal with it on my own, which sounds like a terribly put together plan because it involves just keeping to myself and trying to act normal in front of others although I feel so sh*tty. I also don’t mention to other people about how I am feeling, however, this can also depend on who I’m with. If it’s a trusted friend, maybe. But not usually with my family.

So my dad approached me after dinner about something. I have no idea what it was for but I’m assuming it had to do with his phone since he had it with him. The awful thing about feeling unwell is it can really shift my perception and make me more sensitive to my surroundings drastically, to the point of exaggeration. I wasn’t looking up at the time my dad came to me but I saw out of the corner of my eye that he was walking towards me in a kind of starting and stopping motion. Ever see someone on the street busy on their phone and how he/she takes a few steps and then stops? That’s what he was doing. For that reason alone, I felt irritated and that irritation grew with my own assumption that he was going to ask me to help him when I was so not in the mood for it. When he stopped in front of me and called to me, I said, “What is it?” My tone came out slightly sharper than I intended. He noticed and said something like, “I came to you because I needed your help.” I felt bad so I made a weak attempt at asking what it was about but really I was disinterested. As soon as I said it, I got uncomfortable. He didn’t say anything back and just ended up going back to his phone and walking away.

This is one part of me I still haven’t puzzled out yet. Around my family, I’m very private. There are things to this day I will probably never tell them; whether I am not comfortable having a dialogue with them about certain things or I don’t feel it’s necessary for them to know. Yet something as simple as, “I can’t help you right now, my head hurts and I am so unwell” is a thing I would never say either. I don’t know what it is about admitting that I am NOT okay, particularly to my family, that I dislike. It probably has to do with my intimacy and vulnerability issues. I find myself almost… nauseated by the affection my family has shown me for the times they’ve known I was sick. I feel smothered by their concern and constantly having to verbally update them when they ask how I’m feeling or if I feel better yet. Ugh.

14 thoughts on “Not Explaining Myself to Others

  1. I have to agree with Gallantly Gal. Communication is indeed hard :/ And I guess it’s harder for us introverts and for those of us who suffer from anxiety. The way you chose not to respond to comments, I don’t blame you. There really is no rule stating you have to respond, and you have the right to remain silent. Then again, many would think not responding is rude…it’s like someone is looking out for you and don’t acknowledge it. A lot of the time I don’t like responding to comments people make in general about me. To me, that’s their opinion, okay, and I just accept that.

    You’re not the only one who is private around family members. There are things I will tell my friends not my family. When it comes to things like headaches or down mood that is bothering me, I really don’t like to say it out loud as I don’t want to burden anyone or don’t want anyone to worry about me. But I guess as you alluded to, people don’t take keeping to yourself very well :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is hard when people take my nonverbal response as a sign of rudeness. I know what you mean about people making comments and how you choose to just take that as an opinion but not a fact. I think my dad recently said something ridiculous about me like, “look her lips aren’t chapped anymore and it’s because she has been eating a lot of kiwis.” I didn’t argue against his assumption because I don’t actually know if kiwis help with chapped lips. The only downside of my non reply that I can think of is he could have thought because I didn’t give an outwardly negative response that I was agreeing with his assertion.

      I am the same way with friends. I have told you more about myself than I have with my own family lol. What I dislike when people know I am unwell is suddenly my problem becomes their problem and the last thing I want to do when I am sick is to be fussed over.

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      1. That remark about lips and kiwi from your dad is so…bizarre. It’s comments like these I choose to ignore and rather not engage. Because I really don’t know what to make of it, and so have nothing to say, and I guess that is the way with you too :/

        Haha, sometimes I feel I share more thought with my friends as opposed to blood related family XD

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Communication is hard :\
    And the brain doesn’t always connect to your actions the way it should.
    Thinking things =/= doing or saying things
    it’s very odd…
    it’s easier to react (or not react) than say things…
    in my case, I think, “oh I should ask this or do this” but decide “nah it’s okay I’ll be fine” so as not to prolong communication, only to stress out and have to reach out again
    I don’t know why I don’t listen to myself? It’s like my first instinct is to get off the phone or end the convo as quickly as possible if I’m not comfortable

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thinking versus doing really are worlds apart! It’s weird how thoughts are always going off in my head all day but when it comes to actually speaking, I share probably less than 30% of everything. How many times have I thought of something but not said it, and then someone else says it and I think, “Why didn’t I speak up earlier??” :/ The fear of looking “stupid” is prevalent but I doubt myself a lot too. Almost like, if I speak up, will it even make a difference?

      It is stressful to second guess yourself. Habits are not easy to break either. I find myself reacting the exact same way with ending phone calls or conversations as fast as I can. It’s almost like a ticking time bomb.

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      1. Yeah second guessing yourself is the worst! Second guessing and feeling guilt and being hard on yourself. I guess we have to just embrace stupidity and not care about judgment…YES Lol a ticking time bomb exactly!!!

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    1. I tried the college route in my younger years when I was about 18 and up to 20 years old. On paper it looks like I did well academically in the first two years but I didn’t adapt well socially. I feel I was even more sheltered back then. To give an example, I wished to join some school clubs in an effort to find friends with similar interests to mine and I would get way too nervous to even walk through the door when a club was meeting. Or waiting on line to get my financial aid or school fees sorted out, that type of thing would elevate my heartrate and probably make me feel mildly jittery to stand still for so long but back then, a few times I was visibly distraught from being around other chattering people and left the line to come back later when there weren’t so many people there.

      I can’t say I have plans to try college again in the future. Partially I feel I am too old (I turned 29 in November) and I don’t have the patience to study for a lengthy period of years like I did then. The other reason is I am tired of being financially dependent on other people. Right now I am tentatively pursuing a vocational school opportunity that offers job placement help after graduation.

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