I am not sure how I managed to create this habit. I’m sure some psychological evaluation would be able to shed light on my troubles. Perhaps it has to do with birth order, or some repressed childhood memory that allowed me to follow a path that created these tendencies. Maybe its because getting a word in edgewise growing up was sometimes quite a challenge.
Whatever it is, I have always had the urge to explain my every thought to the last detail. I want to be understood. I want to clarify, to expound, to justify, to illuminate my every thought when I am in the company of other people.
I remember being in grade 4 and my teacher Mr. Petterson commenting that I always introduced what I was going to say before I went ahead and said it. He noted that it wasn’t necessary to do this all the time. I’m sure this drove him a little nutso. The flip side of this was that I never struggled with writing essays and papers. This formal style of writing came as naturally to me as my own thoughts. And for good reason. I have always seen the importance, to a fault, of a well explained thought.
If you have ever spent any time with me you will know that I give way too much back story when I am explaining an event of note in my recent or past experience. For example, I’ll start to tell a story about a funny instance in the classroom. If the story is a bit rusty I will start to doubt the facts and trip over my words as my thoughts rush around my head like a wild, ever twisting tornado before settling again. I start to say words and phrases like ‘Um’ and ‘So… wait a minute’ or when I’m really confused, ‘Shoot. Where was I?’
The problem is, much like the aftermath of a tornado there is a bit of a mess left over. I will look at the faces of those listening to my tale and know that I am losing them. I have neglected them in the muddle of my thoughts and I can see them begging me to move on, because it doesn’t really matter all that much whether this story happened in July or August or whether Robbie was there. However, the desire to stay true to the facts of the story, to explain it as accurately as I can supersedes what I know is the logical choice, to simply move on.
I truly love story telling. I just know that I’m better at it on paper/keyboard. I even like to think that I’m good at it and I’m getting better as time goes on. However, to really remember the stories of my existence I find that I have to say them out loud. Before I can write about it, I have to talk about it. I often read what I have typed out loud several times before I post an entry on this very blog. When I’m working on a post, I read and type at the same time. I close my eyes tight as I work through a sentence attempting to communicate with truth what it is I am meaning to say. I am a verbal processor. Dreaded by friends and family alike. Dreaded mostly by co-workers.
Which brings me to yesterday. I was guest teaching in a Junior High School. I haven’t been there in quite some time. I was passing through the office and one of the Secretaries noted ‘Your hair is nice and long Laura’ An appropriate reply would have been ‘Thank you,” and off I go. However what I managed to say was “Thanks. I’m growing it out because I haven’t had my hair really long in Alberta yet and I really want to try it out.”
Imagine me saying this while awkwardly walking backwards and accidentally bumping strait into the other secretary. Now here is the same sentence that I blurted out, but this time it includes my inner thoughts in brackets:
‘Thanks. I’m growing it (You should stop now Laura) out because (Uh oh, because is the point of no return) I haven’t had my hair really long (I’m still talking I guess) in Alberta yet (There’s another ‘look at me I’m from BC’ moment) and I (Why am I walking backwards? I’ll probably bump into someone) really want to try (Oops, there’s that bump I was expecting) it out.’
Whoa girl. Slow down.
You see, I can foresee these incidents, but I just can’t avoid them all the time. That will take effort and training to change my ways.
In the defense of those who are chronic explainers, I have a justification that helps me through my more embarrassing moments of awkward story telling or over sharing. At the root of this issue, for me, is the desire to infuse everything with meaning. I am sure I can think of a story behind several of the items that Robbie and I own, be they kitchen appliances, clothing, lamps or our car. They all come with a little story. Many of them are gifts. Many of them were good deals. Either way when I look at something we possess it can bring me back to another day, another memory. It has meaning.
So even when I’m embarrassed about this aspect of my process of thinking, I can have peace that my intentions are not to bore the world with my stuttering thoughts or irritate them with insipid details, but to give credit where credit is due.
I know that this can be annoying for those aforementioned friends and family members, and yes even the co-workers. I do think there is something dignified in not explaining my every thought to the world. It is good to keep thoughts inside, sometimes. I know I have to be patient with myself as I learn to tether my tongue and share what it most necessary, most worthy of credit. It is part of the process of growing up.
My only thought left is, will you be patient with me too?