I’m extending the $5 Manifesto deal for another few days. Because you’re awesome! (And I’m too busy surfing to change it.)
Communication is a skill most of us were not trained in. But it’s really key to everything. It’s one of the things that separates us from other mammals. High, complex levels of communication. That and being able to think of new, unique responses to every new situation.
Things That If They Had Been Communicated Would Have Made a World of Difference:
If my mom had been able to ask for help and remove me and my brother from my abusive dad when she left us. That would have made a big difference. Then I wouldn’t have had to live for another year in that crazy environment that was home.
If she had told me goodbye when she left. I still have big hang ups around goodbyes. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d see her until my grandparents brought me to the U.S. to reunite with her a year later. Chinese don’t like telling their kids things. They think it’s better if they don’t know what’s going on. It’s not. It would have helped me to deal with that year of separation if I knew why she left. Five year-olds understand a lot. We just forget that when we become adults. In spite of that I was able to not blame myself and remain hopeful. But underneath I felt unwanted and that’s where my impatient pattern started.
In my early twenties I had sex with a guy I didn’t want to have sex with. (OK probably more than one.) I couldn’t speak up. It felt like a movie that was on fast-forward. Then I got an STD from it. I was really, really mad. Yes, it was jerky for him to be pushy. But I need to and get to speak up and stop things I don’t fully want to do. Especially around sex.
Things That Were Communicated That Made a World of Difference:
I have had many sexually awkward and unpleasant moments with men. But this time we talked about it. A lot. Over weeks. And then by the sixth time we realized something. I was overcome by an overwhelming sadness that morning—unrelated to him. I thought he knew. But he didn’t. He understood now why I did what I did. It took several attempts before we realized this. The key is we had the patience and willingness to keep trying.
I told my ex that I didn’t want to rush into sex. Because the relationship meant a lot to me and I wanted to be thoughtful and intentional during the crucial beginning. It showed him I was serious about it, which he liked and the slow pace made us talk and get closer emotionally before we got sexual. It wasn’t that long but it made a difference.
Sometimes communication doesn’t make you feel better. Like when my mom told me about the problems her and my dad used to have. I was 16 then. I didn’t like hearing about it. It scared me. And then I became the de facto mediator. Which is an awful lot of pressure on a teenager. People will tell you things whether you’re ready to hear them or not because they don’t know who else to ask. It’s a learning experience either way.
Speaking of asking for help that’s still one of my big hang ups. I have to remind myself that it’s a good thing and it doesn’t mean I’m weak. One has to be brave to ask for help. I started telling girlfriends I miss them. Though I usually feel like that sounds lame or weak or needy. But I realized it’s important to tell them how much they mean to me. That they’re significant. And lot of people need that reminder that they make a difference to people. And remember to not take their busyness personally.
When people appreciate my blog, especially women, especially women strangers or acquaintances I fell out of touch with it means the world to me. And especially if my blog helped them get through a tough time. It makes me feel good. I’m communicating my struggles and embarrassments and secrets through my blog to strangers. Not just because I like flashing myself to the world but in the hope that women feel less alone, less bad when they experience similar things.
I recently told a new acquaintance-friend that I was both disappointed and relieved to hear he had a wife. At first, I was scared to say how I really felt. I wasn’t sure how he would react. But reaching for that level of openness—if both parties can handle it well—can extend the relationship to a deeper level. And you’ll never know unless you take that risk.
Questions: What things are hard for you to communicate? What did someone communicate to you that made the world of difference?