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Sex, drugs and sausage rolls: London life, love and other random stuff

Why sometimes, it’s not about the words

with 9 comments

Image: blank scrabble tiles

I'll have a perfectly constructed sentence please, Carol

You know those people who always seem to say the right thing? Those serene individuals, calmer than Buddha, who wait patiently while you witter on like a blithering idiot, then promptly sum up every feeling, every emotion, everything you’ve been trying so desperately to verbalise in one, simple answer?

Yeah, I’m not one of those people.

Ironic isn’t’ it? I mean, I’m a writer. Words are like, my thing, you know? But talking isn’t. Oh, sure, I can construct perfect paragraphs, sizzling sentences and compelling copy, but ask me to talk without a crib sheet and I fly off on a million different tangents, tripping over my words and getting so caught up in what I want to say, I never actually manage to make the point I originally intended to make.

It’s probably why I chose to make this my living. Ask me to write what’s in my head and I’ll give you an articulate, well-structured piece of copy. Come to me for advice and I’ll serve you up the verbal equivalent of a really fucking bad first draft.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a ‘closed’ person. I’ve done the I-am-an-island thing and I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve, and nowadays I like to think I’ve found a happy medium concerning what and with whom I share things.

But GOD, that talking thing. It’s like my thoughts trip over halfway between my brain and my mouth and what comes out is a tangled mass of arms, legs and the contents of the owners’ handbags. Ever seen a pile up in a cycling race? Yeah, that.

Take tonight for instance. I was on the phone with someone who’d had a bad day. A simple enough situation, but you see, he’s one of those people. The kind of person who can say in four seconds what you’ve been trying to say for half an hour. The kind of person who always says the right thing, and does so without having to try three different versions of it. Out loud. The kind of person I just wish I could be like.

Let’s just say he’s ‘special’ to me, and I wanted so badly to come up with some earth-shattering wisdom to solve all his problems and leave him comforted (and slightly in awe of my verbal dexterity), but all I managed were a few long pauses, punctuated by the razor-sharp “Uhm…yeah…well I don’t really know what to say. It’s like… yeah, cause uhm…”

You get the picture.

We began wrapping up the phonecall and saying goodnight. Inside I was feeling like I’d been utterly useless. Then, right before we bid our farewells, he said this:

“Thanks for listening to me moan. I really needed that.”

For this writer, sometimes I need to forget about words. Sometimes all I need to do is just listen.

Afterwards, I went into the living room where my flatmate and best friend of ten years was watching TV.

“Why is it that when I’m talking to him, I can never put into words what’s in my head? It just comes out all jumbled and I end up sounding like an idiot.”

“Because you’re emotionally invested,” she replied simply, “you’re not impartial so it’s harder.”

Yeah. She’s another one of those people.

Written by guy_interrupted

July 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

9 Responses

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  1. you are an amazing listener though *hugs*


    July 21, 2011 at 8:34 am

  2. Excellent reflection….. so often we really feel the need or expectation of ourselves that we can fix situtations and people… and we do by being there for them, and listening, letting them say what they need to. Your friend is right…. and this piece has helped me greatly as I am trying to help two friends currently, one with a cancer diagnosis the other with a very recent HIV shocker. I am not impartial and therefore it is hard, it really tugs at me emotionally. I am use to, perhaps a bit like you at feeling certain of my abilities, knowing what needs to be done, actions to be taken, but sometimes when listening to the outpouring of that friend in need I really feel I fail to meet the standards I would usually set for myself.

    thanks for this….. and I know your are a rock of support for those who turn to you…xxx


    July 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

  3. Don’t know you, but do I understand what you mean. Its much easier to verbalize what your trying to say in writing versus smooth & streamline speech. I have the same problem, however, its slightly different. I have to tell myself to slow my racing thought process down in order to get what it I am trying to say to one another. And if for instance, if a friend is in need of an ear to vent I’m their to listen, but also I try to improve my conversational skills, by asking lots of questions and try to interpret a justified response to his/her feeling and or statement.


    July 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  4. Sometimes it’s just good to be a listener. I’m learning that a lot these days. 🙂

    Stefan Paetow MCIJ

    July 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

  5. No one can be everything to everyone, it’s a lesson that has taken me years to learn. As a Mum I used to think that I should always have the right answer and the right words, but it is not always possible. I have learnt over the years that support and being there is more often than not, what the other person needs, not words. Someone to listen to them and give a hug when needed. People need to know you care whether you are a Mum, friend or someone who is special to that person. Never under estimate the power of support !! xxx


    July 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  6. excellent yet again KJ – my flatmate and best friends of 10 years is the same!…bloody annoying ta times but listerning is all you need to do – love your writing so meaningful and from the u xx


    July 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  7. That post was a nice way of declaring your feelings to your ‘loved one’ 🙂


    July 24, 2011 at 11:15 am

  8. You so nailed it, man. I’m much more of a writer than a talker. And I’m a listener. My trick is to ask questions so that the others do the talking and I can do the listening. 😉


    August 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm

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