15 Mar 2014, 12:30pm

A Little Personal History, part 17, prattle your chain

Over the last 6-8 years I found there are people I want to spend time with and learn more about. I realized recently how much when I go to a room how likely it is that I’m at least passingly familiar with everyone there.

I was at an event last year and an organizer from the library came up to me and asked nervously if I had clearance for taking photos. I said, “oh I know all the readers. And *looking around* I know everyone in this room,… except for him.” She replied, “oh, he’s with the library.”

I’m a bit of a gabber. I will start talking to anyone, just about. I don’t know where I’m going in conversations or why but riding the white water of it and seeing what happens is positive. Throw this, and nothing. Throw that out there and we’re off. Get the eager seatmate in a train and we talked from Toronto to Ottawa. Strangers are easier. Probably life is large enough that you never have to see someone again.

“What do you want to go blabbing for? Don’t go getting yourself all worked up about nothing. Keep the trap shut. No one needs to know our business.”

Particularly on days when I wake up with this weight of being overwhelmed on my chest, I can hear the ramping up.

All the phrases are silencing, shaming, diminishing, dismissing and all get out disproportional in force to the information it tried to to squash. In other houses women learned to watch for an eyebrow or a change in attentiveness from a man to know their place again. Women were also children to be seen and not heard. A look and the young men would also tiptoe.

Perhaps “personal life” being off-limits explains why community women watched soap operas and then talked about it on the phone later. It could allow speech and contact, “safe prattle”. Did they slip in bits of their own life? Was anything consciously or unconsciously encoded there?

Was it about gender or mental illness at its heard and the players could have as easily been reversed? In my case the belittling was done by males of various generations and directions. The females were in a permanent hunch. Except mom who hunched but also blurted. To speak over opposition is a resistance.

Each communication with another is a kind of extraneous S.O.S. Extraneous because we can get along in our solitudes, alliances with people who we see hours per year or per decade but call friends.

Wait, whose voice was that? Depression’s basic tool pack tries to cut you off from the pack, distort and amplify isolation. It shoves people away with barbs. Gotta watch for that. Once you know you can say, you pesky curmudgeon, you know you’re lying.

I wonder how much of dad’s shoving me away was about trying to save me to I don’t learn his mental habits that he couldn’t shake. He wanted to push me past his confines of attitudes and knowledge even if it meant he couldn’t reach me.

He cut off time of bad times together but also the good times and times where we could have worked together for solutions while fighting the same demons. He thought his grief and depression were invisible. He thought invisible would be a kind of success and dignity. Calling it out would be a kind of shaming.

“What’s the use. No purpose. Useless.” It’s in my head, my father’s voice, but with him gone, guess it’s all mine now.

Or it was never either of us. Depression is something of a disorder of significance. Everything could signify but refuses to. Patterns are fixed in all directions of time and space.

At the same time it is adaptive to not divulge where there is no honour or respect only penalty of being zinged o thrashed at by someone blind. There’s no double-blind to know what if something was rejigged. There’s only blindness.

At the Flying Banzini’s blog a customer stormed out, “But… Why would you go from saying nothing to shouting and stomping out the door in a huff?”

To spin from there, I can understand that. I’ve been patronized often about being silent, not stepping up and pitching and modulating my complaints in a way that can be heard and believed, just being “ineffective” then “disproportional” and dismissed.

The fuse blows and it looks like it was instant but it was wrapped around the building a few times first. Articulacy is hard. Knowing where you’re at is too.

Inside the negatives, surely someone else can see the fuse and the panic and the wounded egoist burning? But on the outside they look neutral as anyone.

Silence, explode.

Silence, explode.

Learning to navigate is to read oneself earlier and earlier. More self-aware, push the articulateness. Not get caught in the swamp of emotions. Examine, learn to listen to self instead of shush. Learn to hear out without getting into a spin of reacting to one’s own reactions and tied in knots.

Untie. Unwrap, wait. Listen. Talk and unpack enough. Question. Believe. Respect. Calm. Listen. Talk. Start again.

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