Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Just Don't Speak


My Open-Mouth Insert-Foot Disorder is acting up again.

Unfortunately, my brain seems capable of realizing just how bad my faux pas actually is only after it has completely escaped into the world to shock and offend.  It seems there are people who are able to "pinch off" their verbal load mid-evacuation... sadly, it does not appear to be a skill I possess.

While it plagues me, my struggle with saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and to the wrong person is by far not the the worst case I've ever seen.  Oddly enough, it appears I DO in fact have a filter.  It's just glitchy selective as to when it wants to operate, and even when I try not to say anything sometimes a snort, snicker or giggle escapes... any of which are usually preferable to what might really be going on in my head.


But I'd be a liar if I said I'm not struggling and it's happening in the worst places possible lately.  

I find that my Open-Mouth Insert-Foot Disorder is exacerbated by personal conversations.  I'm really lucky to have the friends that I do because every single one of them either accepts/excepts the inappropriate and generally snarky strands of word turds that come out of me or revels in them; People who can't find the funny in my "disorder" or my general way of being don't often last long.  

I went in to the workplace as a naive 17-year-old thinking that like anything else in life I would make friends and it would be ok in spite of being work.  In fact, for a very long time I felt I HAD to be friends with the people around me, as if being friends with everyone were part of my job, a sign of being a good employee. Though I don't know where that idea came from, I still fought to implement it.

Someone once told me you should never discuss sex, politics or religion in mixed company.  Another little gem I've heard often: one should never shit where they eat.  

I have always tried to be mindful of those oh-so-relevant life lessons.  Which kind of places me in quite a pickle. One would think such knowledge of one's self combined with common sense would discourage me from making more personal connections and having conversations where opinions might come into play.  Unfortunately, that mixed company line becomes incredibly blurred when you work in a small office with people who talk about everything from hot flashes to dinner recipes and have a coworker who has hung a picture of Jesus in her cubicle and has been known to chastise and condemn the others of the same faith in the office for not being as rigid or unyielding in their religious observations as she is (Lent is super fun). 


If you struggle with Open-Mouth Insert-Foot Disorder, you can probably imagine what a hotbed for unsuitable conversation this is for me.  Hell, someone who doesn't struggle with tasting their own foot on a regular basis can probably see how this could be a huge problem for everyone involved and quite possibly a human resources nightmare.

I learned how to avoid conversational landmines years ago at my first "real" job; However, I find the most benign topics in both social and work-related situations turning into controversial discussions lately and not consistently due to commentary made by me.  I've been incredibly hard on myself for giving into the pressure to socialize only to find myself sucked into yet another uncomfortable conversation.  I go home at night and find myself rehashing conversations and wondering if I could have said or not said something and avoided the whole mess.  I wash away the dirt from the day in the shower and my thoughts seem to bounce off the tile walls back at me in a deafening echo of what I woulda, shoulda, coulda said.  In the morning, the Earth's gravitational pull seems like it might overcome me, as if it can sense my waning energy and thinks it might be best if I just stay home watching Netflix for the day with my phone turned off.  

It is hard not to stay in bed; I want to stay home because I'm exhausted from the combination of these discussions that make me so angry inside and forcing myself to not say what is really on my mind.  Day after day of listening to ignorant things said about things I actually know and care about or watching another innocent conversation lead to a soapbox rant.  Every weekend I go home angry for not being able to stop myself from saying what little I thought I could get away with while swallowing huge, hot loads of anger and growing resentment and I wait to see if the dreaded "Please, don't come back" call comes.  Then I log on the Internet to find more of the same. 

And I think to myself...Just Don't Speak.  This doesn't have to be hard.  Just don't speak.  If you do your job and don't say anything, no one can hold that against you.  If you just scroll past it, there can't be repercussions. 

When things get like this, I often remember one of my favorite episodes of Malcolm in the Middle.  After being kicked off of the basketball team for criticizing the coach's game plans, Malcolm realizes that his smart mouth consistently gets him into trouble and vows to keep his opinions to himself.  In a very short time, he reclaims his position on the basketball team, gets on good terms with his girlfriend, earns an allowance from his father and begins enjoying a less stressful relationship with his mother. 

It isn't long, however, until Malcolm's inner voice grows angrier and more sarcastic when finally, just as the coach is about to put Malcolm into the game... he spits up blood.  His parent's take him to the doctor, who reveals that Malcolm has the stomach of a middle-aged man and is suffering from a peptic ulcer, brought on by all of his bottled-up stress.  The episode ends with Malcolm letting it all go. 


Every time I start feeling this way, things seem to be going fine until my stomach rumbles and I consider that I might finally be developing that ulcer.  

Like everyone else, I have a lot going on right now.  As much as I would love to be friends with everyone, I've come to realize I generally work with people that I wouldn't choose to be friends with.  That doesn't mean I couldn't make friends in the workplace and it isn't a statement about my coworkers, it just means that we weren't all chosen to be here based on our ability to be friends with each other and it is ok to acknowledge that.  That also means that not only do I not have to have personal conversations with anyone, but I also don't have to take things like bigotry personally because conversations shouldn't even get to that depth point.

I'm kind of hiding out from social situations.  I don't really have anything good to say and I get tired of watching my friends feign interest in my uglier thoughts.  Not to mention the incredible case of the fake people I seem to have caught as of late.  So I'm hiding out.  I need to be doing some thinking and personal self-growth right now anyway so it all works in the end.  I feel guilty because I'm not out and about interacting, but... I don't have anything awesome to say right now. 

I've felt really awful lately because I've been holding myself responsible for things that I shouldn't because of my little "problem".  I don't need to fill every silent moment with the sound of my own voice; I need to work on being comfortable with my own silence again.  I'm never going to cure my Open-Mouth Insert-Foot Disorder and it doesn't matter how much prescription strength Tequila I can get my hands on (which really DOES help).  I've sat here blaming myself for OTHER PEOPLE saying things that go beyond Open-Mouth Insert-Foot Disorder.  And who honestly needs to take more responsibility for things like that?

Maybe, just maybe... I'm doing alright.  I might be hiding out and avoiding social situations.  And things might take awhile to change after having been the girl who always has something to say, but it isn't like I'm still not going to slip up and say shitty inappropriate things... but for right now, I think I'm just going to focus on not saying anything if I don't have anything nice to say, and thinking before I speak and if I say something wrong, so be it.  But at least I'm not getting an ulcer.

1 comment:

  1. This right here is brilliant, I'm not an ass kisser either more of a kicker. 😉 I've seen it so much around me lately that I'll literally have to bite my tongue not to say anything incriminating. But a person can only swallow bullshit for so long till they can't stand the stink.

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