Say What I Mean – Mean What I Say – Without Being Mean

This is another post about me thinking. Thinking too much possibly. It has nothing to do with tattoos. So if you aren’t in to that sort of thing – you can just skip this one.


Lately I have been thinking about the differences between what we say & what we mean. Specifically me personally. I have a really hard time asking for help with things. Mostly things that I think I should be able to handle. For instance, picking something heavy up and moving it. I think I should be able to carry whatever it is. I try to do so and am clearly having a hard time with it. Someone near me will ask “Would you like some help with that?” and my instinctual reaction is to reply “No, that’s fine, I’ve got it” when clearly I don’t. What is that all about?

I had a friend who would say often “Don’t think for me”. But it occurs to me now that so many of us expect other people to be able to.

From the person who will tell all of her friends how much she would absolutely hate to have a surprise party for her birthday and then is genuinely hurt when no one throws her one. To the sulky significant other that will grumble to themselves and others that if their partner loved them, they wouldn’t have to tell them why they were upset. (“If you loved me, you would know”)

Why do we do this to ourselves? Wouldn’t the easier course of action be to tell people what we need, want and expect?

A friend had mentioned a while back about “Putting up walls, just to see who would care enough to knock them down.” I know that there was a time in my life where I did exactly that. I surrounded myself with anger – locked people out – pushed people away. All the while desperately hoping that someone would see through my charade and love me through it. It didn’t work out really well. I wound up pretty lonely and confused. In hindsight, I could see where the people in my life had done exactly what I had asked of them…. but it wasn’t what I actually wanted.

I specifically remember doing this when I was very young. My mom had told me to go straight to bed (and no reading, just go straight to bed). So I went to my room, opened a book, set it down on the bedside table, turned the light next to the bed on and went right to sleep. It was a test. To see if my mom would believe me when all indications led it to look like I was lying. Of course in the morning she yelled at me. I told her that no, I had gone right to sleep. She yelled at me anyhow. I was truly hurt. Now looking back at this, I can see what a stupid thing it was to do. I confessed what I had done to her later (after I was mad at her for a week for not believing me). As an adult I can see how ridiculous it was to set her up like that and then be angry with her for believing the lie. Because that was exactly what it was. One truth and one lie – and I wanted her to magically know which was which.

I see people around me do this same thing every day. Bringing unhappiness to their own lives through fear. Having to test the people who care about us most to see if it real.

So the question is – how do we convey to the people that are in our lives what it is that we desire without them feeling like they have to do it? How do we communicate our needs and desires without stepping on one another’s toes? Can it be done with love? Or are we destined to wander around trying to think for one another? Trying to guess what other people want?

How do I mean what I say and say what I mean, without being mean? Is it possible to live a wreckage free life if we don’t talk to each other? Can we have open communication with others if they are trying to interpret and add meaning into what is being said without asking?

It makes it easy to understand wanting to go live alone in the woods or on the mountain top. The pursuit of peace is so much easier alone – but love means nothing unless it is shared.

All I can do for now is to try to learn to love without fear. To try and communicate what I can and listen when someone else wants to share. For those who would prefer that I think for you, I am sorry. I am going to try and operate on what you have said – not what you are thinking. No matter how obvious you think it should be for me, no matter how much I may love you… I still can’t read your mind.

~ by justteejay on February 3, 2010.

2 Responses to “Say What I Mean – Mean What I Say – Without Being Mean”

  1. There’s an awful lot of circumlocution going on here, too. Whenever I used to feel tied up in knots as a writer, I would return to my favorite essay, “Politics and the English Language,” by George Orwell. And it would clear my mind straight away. It’s not so much about politics as the bad, knotty thinking, and writing, that politics, and our political culture, engenders. It may help. Of course, psychology is of no use.

    • Definitely tied up in knots – so many random things taking up space in my head at any given time. Only some of which are actually productive.
      I will look for the essay – thank you.

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