Before I begin, I will front-load this with: I started a Twitter account. I think these are all the half-formed one-line thoughts and daily musings that I ordinarily only share with Smokey.
Second, the title of this post is a line from the Smashing Pumpkins song "Drown," which is to say (in a contrived way) that this post is all about Communication. Specifically, my faults therein. Hooray!
I have been told several times lately, with varying degrees of kindness and urgency, that my communication sucks. I don't know if this is a temporary thing, or if it's the way I've always been, but even I can tell it's getting a little worse.
For one thing, I don't really use the IMer anymore (I guess normal people call this AIM?). I am becoming an almost exclusively Gmail person, so I never remember to sign onto Trillian (which I've come to hate anyway). Once I'm on Gmail, though, I have all the things in my inbox to deal with, and I tend to get wrapped up in a little recursive internet loop that rarely involves stopping to say hi to people unless they say hi to me first.
This latter aspect is another one of my major communication flaws: I rarely instigate communication with other people because I am terribly afraid of bothering them. Personally, I never mind when people interrupt what I'm doing (that's why I'm signed onto a chat program to begin with), but I always fear that I will catch them in the middle of something important or when they don't want to hear from me. This is the same reason why I almost never call people, unless it's at a time we've arranged ahead or I am spectacularly drunk and forget to be inhibited about it.
I tend to think I am an open book, what with the sheer volume of online contributions I make in a given day and the degree of personal information I've made available, yet several people called me out when I went "internet missing" for a while in January. I didn't realize how exclusively I rely on the internet to stay in touch with the friends I don't see regularly in person, or that even if I keep blogging and posting to Facebook and what all, if I don't say hello to people individually in real time, they do start to notice.
I talked with an old friend at length this weekend about communication and the impact it had on our relationship. I had been very hurt several times when he seemed to have cut off contact with me entirely, and it turns out that I was the one freezing him out. Worse, I didn't even notice. I kind of just stuck it all on him and resented him accordingly, and I feel terribly guilty about that.
I realize how many of my friendships have ended because I didn't communicate effectively or enough, or I let some small misunderstanding grow into a chasm of silence and confusion until they gave up on me. I'm trying not to do that anymore, but ugh, it's hard.
The weird thing is, I actually do communicate very well. I speak my mind clearly and reasonably articulately when I know what I'm trying to say. I don't back down from what I feel, and I am able to express both my heart and my mind. I tell people exactly what they mean to me as it occurs to me (this generally leads to me blurting out weirdly personal proclamations of affection and flattery because they said or did something that I recognize as characteristically wonderful), and I don't think people question my sincerity since I am pretty much incapable of lying to anyone I care about.
I am, by nature, a talker. In person, I'm almost incapable of being quiet, which I imagine is actually pretty annoying. Recently I was spending time with a friend, and I got sort of introspective and quiet. When I realized how long I'd gone without saying anything, I apologized for being so quiet, and he was stunned. "Really? This is you being quiet?" he said incredulously, "I couldn't think of that many things to say all day!"
So I know I am able to communicate. Maybe even effectively and entertainingly. That is, when I choose to communicate at all. As with every other problematic All or Nothing situation in my life, I need to mitigate the distance between cold silence and overwhelming floods of words and information.
I really am trying. I'm answering emails promptly, instead of letting them sit in my inbox for weeks while I try to think of the perfect response. I'm returning phone calls, even if it makes me panicky. I'm asking questions instead of making notes to look things up later (sometimes - I still have my list). I'm not allowing myself to avoid uncomfortable conversations or hide from people, and I'm making myself be fully honest even when I'd prefer to take my heart off the table and quietly drift out of someone's life instead.
Theoretically, the incredibly awkward steps I'm taking toward becoming a more communicative person should help me a lot, personally, professionally, spiritually, artistically, etc. My feelings of intense dread and imminent disaster are probably perfectly natural, and over time I can put away my armor and just interact with people as a functional, healthy person, instead of a quivering hedgehog looking for a reason to turn to quills.