Wednesday, 26 September 2012

XXIX. Words

I've been on a two day intensive training course at work. My mind is completely fatigued but also I have been challenged in a positive way, am intellectually sated, and have had a few of those light bulb moments. The training related to having conversations, in our case specifically referencing clients, but the learning really can be applied in all relationship types. We've spent the last two days deconstructing conversations, language and how it's use and application can hinder or enhance a deeper understanding between people, and how to really cut through surface level talk to gain insight into what another person really needs help with.

I feel I've been given a gift that I really wanted. 

Communicating well, without harm, but still reaching to help people, even with uncomfortable issues really is a great art. So much good intent gets thwarted and turned sour because people haven't learned to properly articulate what it is they are trying to say.

And sometimes we are just so focussed upon our own objectives that we just don't listen, don't see the hints, the clues, that people lay at our feet to try and indicate to us what they really want to say. Sometimes they might not even be consciously aware of their need. We were given the space, the time, to practice listening, to drop our egos, insecurities and agendas, and let another's words come through. 

As I've been doing so much thinking about language lately, particularly in its harmful uses, the kind of deconstruction of conversations and outcomes of different ways of questioning and responding was welcomed. 

I got thinking about a conversation I had had that morning with the children's father. My eldest son now has an IPod touch and he and I have been trading iMessages. He seems to really like communicating that way, sharing little bits of information with me in messages, that he wouldn't normally. So I've been really try encourage the dialogue. I sent a sweet message to him this morning, something like 'Good morning gorgeous. Mamma has just been out running along the river :) Have a kickass day and I'll come pick you guys up after work.'

Shortly after I got a call from my ex-partner, "you can't send a message to ___ (eldest son) and not call _____ (youngest son)."

In an admonishing tone. It was delivered as a scold, and the phone was handed to my younger boy, who I of course I had a little chat with. 

I have to wonder about the reason for this call. Had my youngest really indicated that he had felt left out? I find this hard to imagine. And even if so, wouldn't it be preferable to call me and say, '_____ felt a little bit left out, so I thought I'd give you a call so you can talk to him' or something. But instead, it is framed in this negative way, as though he is the authority figure, and I the misbehaving child who has disregarded the rules. I almost laughed at his phrasing. Why does he feel he has the right to judge me for the decisions I make about my communications with my children. Or is it a failure of language? This isn't his first language, is it a failure in translation, or does his native tongue, lack the subjective tones that our language has and he has no way of expressing thoughts in the more subdued way I require. Is his true intent to try and control me, by putting himself in an imagined position of superiority or is he trying to communicate something else, less sinister, but lacks the skill or courage to communicate it. 

Whilst not his first language, he has holds an undergraduate degree in English literature, so I'm not inclined to give him the benefit of this doubt. I've been too cleverly constrained by his words, tensed, forced, into an unwanted shape, unrecognisable at times to myself, that I can't risk going back by shows of unwarranted empathy. This body of blood and ideas and passion and water has finally burst under the pressure and flooded outward, freely across freshly imagined landscape, finally quenching the parched landscapes of my dearest dreams.

This deconstruction of communication, does makes me wonder about what I write here. Should I be more cautious, consider what the people in my life that have featured in my words might feel should they ever read  them. It's not out of the question that this could occur somehow. Or is writing of them a part of letting go, putting them behind me, an acknowledgement that I no longer care what they think of me? Do I not mind that I could hurt my ex with my, possibly incorrect, insights that he has a tendency to hurt deliberately with his words, and do I no longer care if my old cyber friend comes to learn that I was incredibly overcome with a possessive and irrational completely constructed love for him, because I've finally accepted that I'm not in his heart and mind and into my past my dream of putting my hand in his can go. Although, I think he would understand that it is the wannabe artist in me that has called forth my favoured muse to inspire some of these more soaring, explorative words of devotion, something that is quite distinct from me as a woman who appreciates the simple, sweet friendship we shared during a time of difficult change, when what I needed most was comfort, from afar, without expectation. Still, it seems so sad not to ever know what it is like to kiss someone that has stirred my mixed up soul so pleasantly.

Oh words. I think I might go draw a picture.


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