Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Freedom Of Speech

The problem with running a blog like a newspaper column instead of the usual photo album (like my other blog is) is that when you talk about things, you can never really post what you WANT to say. I just spent the last half hour writing a funny, witty little shpeel on an experience I had not too long ago, but couldn’t post it because I was sure the degree of offense would have been severe. This is because 99% of my audience is family and would interpret my writings to be about them.

Ere go, let me preface this blog with a disclaimer. I think a lot of times we might read these things and think “oh my gosh! They wrote that about me!” which then leads to heart warming feelings, feelings of embarrassment or maybe even feelings of anger and resentment. Which is the problem with writing to an audience who knows you. There is no REAL freedom of speech. Haha. Women especially have this problem. I know because….I’m a woman! It’s just what we do. Probably has something to do with the on going belief that the world revolves around us.

Let me just clear up ahead of time that this blog is not about you. Whoever you are, however you are related to me, I’m not talking about anyone. Although it’s a blog about families, these are simply thoughts that have transpired more from too much in-depth thought rather than personal experience. So, back to the show!

In the real, political, business-like world things work a lot more differently than they do with families. We can put our opinions and suggestions out on the table without hurt feelings or tears. “It’s not personal, it’s business,” “Freedom of speech,” all plausible excuses for speaking boldly and to the point of the matter. But you can’t be that way with family. Why? I’ll tell you why in one word…..Emotion.

So the question is, where does freedom of speech go when he runs and hides with any sort of family tie? Ha! I’m gonna put that on a bumper sticker and make millions! “Freedom of speech runs and hides with any sort of family ties.” Brilliant!

The point is, when you invite emotion to come sit down at your honesty table, honesty doesn’t stay for long. If he did, he’d be quickly drop-kicked out the front door by “hurt feelings,” or “offensive!” But what about when there’s something that NEEDS to be said but is hard to say? What if it’s unpleasant? What if there is no easy or delicate way to put it but if you don’t say anything, the silence could be more detrimental? What would you do? Say it and then give a fake grin as you twist your index fingers into your dimples? “Smile! What I just said was hard to take buuuuuuuuut.,,, ‘if you chance to meet a froooown, do not let it staaaaay!” Cause that ALWAYS works for me. Ha! Yeah right.

I’m not speaking as if I stand above this problem. Oooooh no! I do my fair share of fist pounding and feet stomping whenever someone has the courage to say something to me. Ever heard of the “boom heard round the world?” That was my tantrum when someone first told me I didn’t look good in yellow. And why would I do that? NOBODY looks good in yellow! It’s easy to explain actually cause you see, the same button that’s used to make my “wall of defense” shoot up is also connected to my “overreaction button.” Try it and you’ll see what I mean. I get defensive and loud and emotional, all at the same time.

There are times though that I am able to hide my reaction and pass it off like it didn’t matter much but the hurt feelings always rear their ugly heads no matter how hard I try to suppress them. It’s more often than not waaaay past the appropriate time to say something though and my frustrations get taken out on the wrong people, Example:

Matt: “So, do you want cereal or eggs for breakfast?”
Amie: “I LOOK GREAT IN YELLOW!!! ….ahem, excuse me, ummm cereal.”
Matt: “Whoah. Cereal it is then!”

That happens because no one likes a critic. Simply put. No one likes to hear bad things about themselves and when people (mostly family) get close enough to see that we do actually have a bad side it puts everyone between a rock and a hard place. You are wonderfully close and you now know them well enough to recognize that they have problems yet you can’t say anything because….you’re too close! Say for instance your wife snores at night (and no before any of you try and see how my examples are related to me, I don’t snore). Lets say it’s not just any snore either. This is an earth shattering, mind numbing, makes you have bloodshot eyes of insanity at 3 am kind of snoring. There’s a surgery that can be done to fix her, but your afraid in telling her that you’ll hurt her feelings because snoring isn’t normally a womanly feature. What could you do? Your damned if you do and a wired insomniac if you don’t!

Obviously you have to plug the same principle into a scenario of your own to really see the problem but you understand the predicament. And it extends into all kinds of relationships. Sisters afraid of offending brothers, husbands afraid of hurting wives, parents afraid of driving away their children. Ahhh if only there was a simple solution to the problem. With all the advancements we’ve made in the world with the human psyche, there’s nothing out there that can bring freedom of speech back into families. We can open a man’s brain and make him involuntarily lift his right arm but we can’t tell our brother that he has an addiction problem, our wife that she snores or our children that they are flirting with a line of disaster without emotions creating a divide. Maybe some day, some day we’ll find a way to figure it all out.

As Good As It Gets

Now I know I talk a lot about my therapist (which btw, I saw him at a church function yesterday and almost called out “Hey Dr. Bean!” Haha!) but he really has some good points. From my last session I was expressing some concern over a certain matter that I have been quite impatient on resolving and he looked at me and said “and what if it doesn’t get resolved? What if THIS is how it is always going to be? For the rest of your life. …..What if this is as good as it gets?”

After getting lost in thought for an embarrassingly long time, I looked up at him and I could tell that he sensed a little bit of my despair. He then added, “if you knew ahead of time that this was going to be the best that it ever would be, would you have tried as hard on YOUR end to resolve the matter?”

The answer of course was no. In a physics class I took back in college (which I LOVED) my professor gave us some good advise along the same lines. It was around finals time and all of us wanted to know exactly what percentage of our overall class grade would fall under this last test. You see, because afterwards we were all going to pull out our calculators simultaneously and calculate (in a worse possible case scenario) how low we could score on the test and still get the final grade we hoped for. He looked back at us and said, “I’m not going to tell you. If I tell you and you calculate that number, that is what you are going to get on the test. I think you will all score higher without that number in your head.”

And so it was in this scenario for me. If I knew or calculated what the outcome would be before hand with this certain relationship, my mind would have relaxed a little bit so to speak and I wouldn’t have tried as hard.

So, I guess it’s good in the end that we aren’t all-knowing, future predicting geniuses. Who can expect more of you if you are trying as hard as you can? It really is a satisfying feeling and has brought much closure for me.