Thursday, March 20, 2008

Biting my tongue

I used to say whatever I wanted, to whomever, always. I didn't care if my comments were offensive, or if I seemed brash or if I wasn't taken seriously. I just wanted to be heard.

But I suddenly find myself biting my tongue.
Afraid of saying too much, or seeming like too much of something that I might actually be.

I now find myself tight-lipped and silent.
Keeping things in because they may seem offensive.
Not saying that because it might ruin this.

And so I am quiet. A mouth full of abrasions rather than opinions. Lips framing pain instead of power.

A coppery taste left in my mouth... each and every time I see you.

18 comments:

jovial_cynic said...

Self-censorship is often viewed as the crowning achievement of oppression.

I've always told myself that I will be 100% transparent to my friends, to my spouse, to my coworkers, to my boss, etc., and if they cannot accept the person I am, they might not be worth keeping around. Human beings need to be able to be honest with themselves with with one another; to live a lie, or to fear being able to express opinions and thoughts -- that's not even living.

There's a difference between biting your tongue when you know you're speaking out of blind emotion, and biting your tongue because you're afraid of how people might perceive you. The former is wisdom; the latter is a prison.

Chrissie said...

There's a difference between biting your tongue when you know you're speaking out of blind emotion, and biting your tongue because you're afraid of how people might perceive you.

Very true.

But what is a person to do when they're not sure where their words are coming from?

What if their opinions are constantly regarded as "blind emotion?" when for them, they are based on sound feelings/ideas/interpretations?

Who determines what is "blind emotion" and what is sound opinion if not the person listening?

Anonymous said...

if you're not sure, then sleep on it.

if you feel the same way in the morning, then it's probably not "blind emotion". you might still be emotional, but that doesn't mean you're also being "blind" about it.

that sounds kind of cliche ("baby baby let me sleep on it..."), but in fact i read somewhere recently that there's actual physical evidence that sleeping on things gives you a better assessment of them. it has to do with emotionally excited neural pathways relaxing and becoming set while you sleep. so you think more clearly about it. with less confusion. or something like that.

Chrissie said...

ahhh yes! the sleeping on it thing. that definitely works for me. i find that if i'm still angry the next morning then it's something worth talking about... but if it seems unimportant i can easily let it slide.

but the sleeping on it idea also encourages biting our tongues... at least for a little while i guess.

Thomas G Henry said...

take a walk, a loooong walk... like hours.... no music... no cell phone... just you, your thoughts, your heart, your lungs, and the road... (and the occasional creepy SUV looking for directions to the nearest hookers)

in my experience... the first hour or so (the approximate distance from the olive garden to barnes & noble, hypothetically speaking) will be very noisy and counter productive... then around... say... block buster... you sort of settle into a rhythm with yourself and things come much more easily..... continuing northbound.. by sharon drive the inspiration will be unstoppable... once you get to about vassar hospital you won't want to stop.. you'll have forgotten you have legs... it won't be walking anymore it'll just be you and your mind in a way that's really rare to get a hold of... at least.. in my experience

if ur still not sorted after that... whew... then i dunno

Anonymous said...

of course, you can save all that tired walking, and still achieve a very uniquely orientated perspective on your thoughts, by way of the shroom.



talk about forgetting you have legs... and arms... and a face.

Chrissie said...

so you're all saying what i really need is a good walk, followed by a good nap, and then a shroom experience? ? ?

hmm... interesting.

not exactly the answer i was looking for, but i guess i can give it a try.

well, some of it.

Anonymous said...

one might consider an epiphany to be exactly that: discovering an answer you weren't looking for...

;)




hmm... i feel like that one statement could open up a whole can of psychological-blog-post worms.

you know... molding the shape of your life by looking for the answers you expect... directing your fate... self-fulfilling prophecy... and all that jazz.

could be interesting...

jovial_cynic said...

What if their opinions are constantly regarded as "blind emotion?" when for them, they are based on sound feelings/ideas/interpretations?

It sounds like you have been pressed under the thumb of sexism that invalidates the notion that feelings are perfectly legitimate.

What I mean by "blind" emotion (and perhaps that was a poor word choice) is that people often fail to differentiate between an expression of opinion and an attack.

Attack: "GAH! You're such an IDIOT! Quit leaving your socks all over the place!"

Opinion: "It bugs the crap out of me when I keep having to pick up your socks."

The attack serves no purpose, and people, in the midst of emotion, often attack blindly, with little regard to the casualties. On the other hand, the opinion cannot be argued, because nobody can deny your experience.

But in any event, you should always be free to express how you feel. I've got a wife and THREE DAUGHTERS, so I know I'm going to have an earfull of emotional responses coming my way as my kids get older. But I have to allow for it -- I can't invalidate their feelings. I can, however, curb a response that attacks, because attacks are nearly always unacceptable.

Your emotions (blind or otherwise) are perfectly acceptable. They make you who you are. The time to bite your tongue is when you're going to blindly attack somebody.

sarah said...

So speak freely regardless of how people might perceive you?

If that's what you are saying, it's good and bad advice.

I think there are lots of factors that play into speaking "out" ...

Am I hurting someone else by saying this?

Will what I say be misinterpreted?

How will people perceive me after I say this? Can I live with that?

Chrissie said...

anon, you are opening a can of worms i can't commit to analyzing right now.

but as far as "self-fulfilling prophecy" that's my way of life as of late. if it isn't broke, i'll break it just so i can fix it again;)

and to you JC, WELL SAID (again).

you hit the nail ON THE HEAD with your assumption of:

"It sounds like you have been pressed under the thumb of sexism that invalidates the notion that feelings are perfectly legitimate."


very true.
some seem to think that because women are thought to be "frequently irrational and overly emotional," therefore her responses to negative emotions are constantly regarded as "typically female."

Chrissie said...

... continued.

but just because she's emotional, doesn't mean you aren't wrong.

("you" the world).

vanessa said...

I say sleep on it, or at least run the conversations you may or may not have with this person in your head for a few hours. (thats what I do). Think out what you REALLY think you want to say and then gauge their apporximate reaction. Usually the initial thing I want to say is harsh and will just be perceived as an attack. If something is really bothering me I need time to ingest it all and figure out the whys and hows and whens and all that jazz. Eventually I find a way to tell the person exactly how I'm feeling without sounding irrate. Of course this much thought process only occurs when its a serious chat I need to have with someone I care about deeply. Otherwise I mostly just say whatever I'm feeling without censors. And hopefully they feel the pain I'm purposefully inflicting. :) So they can see how they made me feel of course.

jovial_cynic said...

... If that's what you are saying, it's good and bad advice.
I think there are lots of factors that play into speaking "out" ...
Am I hurting someone else by saying this?
Will what I say be misinterpreted?
How will people perceive me after I say this? Can I live with that?


What you are describing is the very nature of communication. There's no amount of internal analysis that's going to give you a green-light on all of those concerns.

Thomas G Henry said...

i agree with sarah. these are good considerations.

i'd add:

can i take this back?

There are am million things you can take back and a million more reasons to support them:

"i didn't mean it that way"
confusion/miscommunication
change of heart/mind
mood, etc etc etc...

but some things... can't be taken back...

so weigh the "take-back-able-ness" of something teetering on the tongue

says me

Chrissie said...

very true TGH... and i have a feeling you may have a list of a few un-take-back-ables don't you? ;)

sarah said...

There's no amount of internal analysis that's going to give you a green-light on all of those concerns.

Maybe. But that doesn't mean those concerns aren't worth analyzing, right?

Words hurt people. Period. So if everyone took a moment to do a little self censorship for the sake of others, wouldn't all of us be better off?

(and if you think I'm saying I don't make these types of mistakes at least 10 times a day, you're wrong, but I'm working on it!)

jovial_cynic said...

Sarah - the original post said this:

But I suddenly find myself biting my tongue. Afraid of saying too much, or seeming like too much of something that I might actually be.

*Those fears* are the ones I'm addressing. That's the oppression-causing self-censorship that crushes the human spirit. It perpetuates oppression, be it from sexism, racisim, religious intolerance, etc.

The issue of saying something that could hurt someone is the "blindly attacking" issue, and I said that those kinds of things should be curbed. We're not in disagreement there.