Sunday, February 1, 2009

Foot in Mouth Disease

Karma is a bitch.

I have been so over-sensitived, so hyper-aware of things said and not said in my presence lately that I have begun to completely doubt my own words.

I have never never had a problem with expressing myself. Saying or writing what I mean when I mean it. But yesterday I found my myself writing, erasing, writing again, deleting, scratching things out throwing them away and trying again just trying to convey the most basic of human emotions to people.

It just feels like so much of what I would usually say can be re-interpreted, misinterpreted, misread based on the fact that we have recently lost our girls.

For example:

My co-worker was in a pretty horrendous car/tractor trailer accident Friday morning. Her car was totaled, dragged across the highway. She is home with a fractured wrist. She's brand spanking new to our workplace, she started just a few days before I took my extended leave so we haven't had too much time to hang out yet. But I wanted to send her a quick get well card just to let her know I was thinking about her. I found myself writing something like, "so glad to hear that you aren't more hurt than you are..."

Scratch that. Delete. That implies that her current level of hurt is ok. No no no. Ok try again. "Just remember, things could always be worse..."

And then I thought, you know, if I was laying on my couch, icing my aching arm, stressing about how the hell I am going to get by without a car and no sick time accrued at my brand new job, I would probably punch whoever told me "things could be worse" with my good arm. AND there could be some interpretation that implies that I am using my own situation to trump hers - you think you have it bad.... No. No. No! That is not the intent. Scratch that. Delete. I tossed that card out too and just ended up writing some generic, "Get better soon! Thinking of you." And left it at that.

Example #2:

A friend IRL just gave birth to a healthy baby girl after a pretty grueling and scary nine-week strict hospital bedrest stay. I was commenting on her blog yesterday and what I wanted to say was congratulations! 9 weeks is a bitch. But you made it! You both made it.

But then I was struck once again, with, oh gosh, I don't want that last sentence to be seen as "you both made it out so 9 weeks really isn't a big deal at all because at least you have a baby..." Because that is NOT what I mean! I deleted the last sentence. What I mean is, I am really not sure how well I would have held up spending 2 months in the hospital and you are brave and strong and after all of that I am so truly happy that you and your new little girl are ok.

So, um, nutmeg, I hope you're reading....

Example #3:

Writing a sympathy card to M's 2nd cousin who just lost his 90+ year old father. My first line, We are so sorry for your loss. That! After all my bitching about death meaning different things to different people. So I blathered on about how we don't really lose love, we just hurt because the person we loved isn't here in the flesh anymore and on and on like that. This one actually turned out ok, I think, because I know the recipients well enough that they could tolerate my scratch outs and rephrasings and probably figure out what I meant to say in the first place.

Phew. This is exhausting.


12 comments:

Duck said...

Yup it's hard to edit and I too had the first instinct, yeah 9 weeks sucks but you have a baby and your healthy so what's 9 weeks in the spectrum of a lifetime? So I too should edit more than what I do, and find myself thinking one thing and writing something much simpler...

luna said...

I also find myself trying to choose my words more carefully because I am hyper-aware of the hurtful things people say in ignorance. I agree, it can be exhausting! if only more people were so thoughtful though...

Lisa DG said...

I think the greatest gift of that experience may be that now we know that when people mean well, sometimes they say the darnedest things. I can say for me, I was always blaming others for their stupidity and all they really wanted to do was to to let me know they cared.

Mrs. Spit said...

Yes. You think of all the stupid things that you said. When someone told me it could be worse, Gabe could have died 6 months after, I started to wonder what horrible things I said to people.

I remind myself that I too, was innocent, when people say stupid things to me.

nutmeg96 said...

But I know what you mean -- every time I felt really sorry for myself in the hospital I tried to remember how lucky I was that my baby was still with me. I still can't believe she made it.

XO

Bluebird said...

Ugh, I am not good at the self-editing thing right now. I too have a friend going through a difficult pregnancy, she's lost a ton of weight, etc., and all I can say is "yes, but - is the *baby* growing and doing okay?" Its so hard to have this new perspective on life that we never wished to have. And good for you for being aware and compassionate of others.

Chhandita said...

I generally follow my heart and hope I say the right things!!! I can imagine how tiring it must be!!

nancy said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry you are going through this mental fuck. ~hugs~

Dani819 said...

You know, the most helpful things that people have said to me have all started with "I don't know what to say." So these days, I'm hoping that just showing up at all and saying "I have no words for this" counts for something when I do it. I'm impressed that you're sending cards and writing letters at all- these days, my head is way too far up my own butt for that.

dana said...

Ugh. It just sucks that there are so many ways things can be misinterpreted under these circumstances. At least you're thoughtful and aware enough to notice. *hugs!

I have never been good at trying to express my heartfelt meanings to someone else, so I don't even try anymore. Thank you Hallmark, I owe you one (or two...).

Dora said...

I think Dani's suggestions are great. A good way to be present for the other person and not inadvertently put your foot in your mouth.

Hard stuff.

Amy said...

Sometimes it is so hard to express yourself when you're overcome with so much emotion yourself. Or at least it is for me. If that made sense, which it might not have.

Point? I get what you're saying, which I suppose means you were very clear about feeling like you weren't being clear. Now my head is spinning.

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