im not a game show

May 14, 2010 § 13 Comments

ever since i can remember, so since i was three or so, i have been told i had ‘communication issues’.
so of course i have spent the past three decades trying to fix my ‘communication’ issues.
i read books, listened to unsought advice, meditated, did affirmations, prayed, cried, begged for help, journaled, etc.
all trying to ‘work’ on my communication issues.
trying to figure out what was i doing so wrong?
and then a few weeks ago, i was talking to a sweet childhood friend who i had not spoken to in nearly twenty years.
and at one point in the convo i asked her a question, and then followed up that question with: please, excuse me i have a bad habit of asking direct questions.
and she says: you were always direct.

and ding. ding. ding. ding.

i was direct, when i was 6, 7, 8, etc. i couldnt believe that this is what she remembered about me from elementary school days.

welcome to my ‘communication issues’.
i have always been direct.
this is what my mom meant when she said i had communication issues, and my teachers, and the kids in school, and lovers, and friends, and and and…

what i mean is: in order for me to express myself, i have not created the prerequisite that i must console you. or comfort you.
always console you, or comfort you = being nice = way girls are supposed to talk.
direct honesty to you = self respect = way boys are supposed to talk.
i got communication issues.
i got the wrong gender coming out of my mouth when i speak.
men and women police women’s language to make sure that it sounds ‘appropriate’. you know, nice, sweet, gentle. reassuring. don’t worry. everything is going to be fine. hopeful. i’ll take care of it.
in more than one community i have been in, i have gotten the rep for ‘causing conflict/drama’. and i could never figure out how that shit happened. i would go over it in my head time and time again. b/c i was willing to be that i had ‘started’ this.

each time the story goes like this:

1. someone gives their opinion

2. i disagree with their opinion

3. someone defends their opinion

4. i still disagree with their opinion = i just caused conflict/drama/hellfire and brimstone raining down on judgement day/whateva

5. i spend a ridiculous amount of time blaming myself for not having the self-discipline to not give my opinion.  and trying once again to fix my ‘communication issues’.

6. i try my hardest to be the nice girl for a while.

7. i forget about being the nice girl for a minute ( i get distracted…it is really hard to remember all the time) . give my opinion again.

and repeat.

why dont i ever learn?

and im not beating myself up because i think my opinion is incorrect. i am beating myself up because i spoke my opinion without permission.

and they arent criticizing what i say.  they are criticizing that i dare say anything that was not consoling, comforting or reassuring.

they are criticizing me because life is heartbreaking.  and the thing i am supposed to do is suppress disagreement conflict and anger,  lay my body in the road to smooth out the pot holes. and obviously i have forgotten my role.  and obviously a reminder will tell me how i am supposed to express myself and when and where and with whom.  and of course this is just the way things are.

and i guess i dont learn because i dont want to learn a lie.

cause, in reality, im not a game show, im a girl just trying to make in this world.

and i think that folks deserve more than just a consolation prize.


§ 13 Responses to im not a game show

  • again, heard! 🙂 there’s a very strong-minded, extroverted male in my community who people basically equate me as the female version of. and his behavior (confrontational, aggressive, argumentative) is seen as totally acceptable and barely ever questioned, even admirable, but when the same behavior comes from me it’s inappropriate.

    • mama says:

      yes. and there are times for confrontation, and when it is appropriate (oh hell when it aint) boys are given the lee-way to confront. while it is expected that nice girls would ‘never’ confront you. no matter the circumstance. no matter how deeply flawed or abusive or violent the situation is…which reminds me of a blog that fugitivus wrote last year where she says that you cant be surprised that a woman doesnt speak up, scream, fight back, confront in a rape or sexual assault when she has been told her whole life that ‘nice girls’ dont talk back.

  • Aaminah says:

    as if you’ve been in my head for the past week…

    in regards to cuntastic’s comment, i will add that not only is aggressive/confrontational behavior acceptable for men but not from women, one thing i’ve been really thinking about lately (due to experiences) is this:

    i wasn’t being aggressive or confrontational to begin with. it wasn’t “how” i said it and maybe-i-should-choose-my-words-and-manners-more-carefully. it was, as you wrote,

    *that i dared to say it at all*

    that i dared to disagree. that i dared to have a logical reason for my disagreement and to share that reason. that i dared to have an emotional reason for my disagreement and was upfront about why i take the issue a little personally.

    and it’s not only when i disagree with someone. sometimes (really, just as often) it’s that i dared to share an opinion/experience in the first place. and someone came at me calling me out my name, belittling me, racializing or genderizing or otherwise hating on me for who i am. and i then said “uh, no, that’s not how it’s gonna be”. and somehow, everyone construes that as ME being aggressive. not the other person being aggressive towards me.

    me, i was the aggressive-confrontational-bitter-justlikestoargue-b****.

    we gotta let that ish go. i gotta let that ish go. i am passionate, not confrontational. righteously angry, not bitter. i’mma say what i think/feel/what my experience has taught me. and everyone is welcome to disagree. but i’m not gonna go back and forth about it. if someone learns something from something i share, great. if i learn something from something someone shares, great. but if the way people express disagreement with me is to

    remind me of my place

    that isn’t a dialogue or a conversation anyway. and i ain’t the one that dragged it down to a “confrontation”.

    • mama says:

      yes. what gets me is that ‘they’ get to decide when is the appropriate time for us to speak, w/o our agreement to the rules. and that whe we do speak out of turn, it is termed as a negative communication issue that we have. and not just bullshit rules. and you know, sometimes confrontation is exactly what the situation calls for.

  • My best friend of almost 15 years once described me as being “honest – to a fault.” As I got older, I learned how not to be direct because I was hurting feelings and causing unnecessary grief. But then, of course, the moment I stopped saying everything that popped into my head, I was “lying” or “hiding things” which caused – you guessed it – hurt feelings and unnecessary grief. At this point, I say “eff it.” If I have something to say, I WILL say it, whether the other person likes it or not. Let your voice be heard, mama!

    • mama says:

      summayah! yes. this was my childhood. where my mother on the one hand tells me ‘i never told her anything’ and was lying through ‘omission’ but when i did speak up i was told that ‘it wasnt what you say, its how you say it that matters’ and i whatever i was saying was wrong because i was being too honest. even at times blunt. and there is supposedly some middle ground, where you can be honest and not offend people. but of course that requires that you dont actually disagree with the other person…its so a catch 22.
      i am so glad that you just said ‘eff it’ and say what you think. social approval is a prison.

  • Br00ke says:

    Love this! Been there. Again and again. And will again.

  • unscrambled says:

    I’ve been lurking for a long time (and rarely post anything public anymore), but yeah. This hit me right in the center of my chest. Thank you.

  • nezua says:

    how poetic. 🙂

  • Alva Goldbook says:

    Welcome to my life, lol! I’ve had a deep interest in politics and debate for as long as I can remember. Debating politics is one of my loves, possibly more than music. I’ve noticed over the years that frequently people will confuse a disagreement with opinion with not approving of who that person is as an individual.

    My recollection of you in high school was that you had very strong convictions. Which I was always cool with. Personally, I always admired people who have strong opinions. Even if I disagree with it.

    • mama says:

      yes. i hear you ‘alva’. i think it has something to do with the fact that politics is about people, in a way that i dont know…quantum physics is not. you know? like, i can argue about the existence of quarks and few people are going to have a personal investment or see a reflection of themselves in my arguments. while, if i am arguing about…oh i dont know…the rights of roma in italy to have a fair trial, i am probably going to run up against people whose lives and survival are centered on these issues. specifically roma folk themselves. for me, because im not roma, i can abstract about the pros and cons of roma receiving a fair trial. and still sleep okay at night. but when i am talking to someone who is roma, i am now talking about that particular person. it is now abstract and very very personal.
      dont get me wrong i need to think abstractly in order to understand a great deal of issues and conflicts. but i also have to acknowledge that i am talking about living and breathing people, and that what i say matters to them or they wouldnt be engaging w me in the first place.
      another example, more personal, someone may say something like: mothers should breastfeed their children for the first two years. now there may be plenty of science and shit to back up that claim. breast is best and all that. so it is sort of an abstract statement. but, what about ‘me’, the mother who chose not to breastfeed her kid for two years? all the abstract claims and evidence, barely intersects with the reality of my and aza’s life and our choices. and yet when you say ‘mothers should’ you are claiming to speak for what was best for me. see?
      on the other hand i need abstract thinking a lot of times to figure things out. so its trying to hold both. the abstraction and the personal in the same breath.

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