There I was again, sitting around in a circle, and trying so hard to listen to people speak. I was feeling somewhat… quiet, I guess. Maybe shy, but I am not quiet sure that is the correct word. Sometimes it is just difficult for me to both pay attention to a conversation, and to try to find a way into it.
Other people seem to have this sense of when it is their turn to speak – but I often find that when I think it is ‘my turn,’ I am either interrupting, or someone else interrupts me (and almost always I am the one looked to to stop talking.) So I assume I am usually the one who is wrong.
Forty years, and I still don’t get it.
Though I write frequently about struggles in this particular group, it in no way implies that there is anything wrong with the group. For weeks on end, this is the only situation where I find myself trying to communicate in a group, or with background noise, or with anything other than one on one conversation in a quiet environment. Since I am not good at this, I tend to avoid it – with the exception of the rare social outing, or this routine meeting.
So when I notice my struggle to communicate, it is frequently in this setting – but not because of the people in this setting.
Communication is hard.
La comunicación es dura.
In this particular moment, several people were involved in this conversation about cats. Yes, cats. I don’t remember how it started, but some people were very upset about cats in their gardens (for obvious reasons!) The issue wasn’t with their own cats, but with neighbourhood cats that the owners let out, and who wandered over to use soft garden beds as litter boxes.
I understand the issue. In fact, I have been problem solving the same issue with my own cat (my garden is fenced, and my dogs and I are often out in it, so neighbourhood cats – at least in my front garden – are not my issue. My own cat is, so he is only allowed out when I am with him.)
One even mentioned horrible solutions to cats in the garden (which I am still horrified and upset over – perhaps that is why I have been on the edge of crying over lost pets most of today.)
As people talked (and I couldn’t, for finding a way into the conversation seemed impossible aside from my obvious looks of horror at some comments) the words were suddenly directed at me:
“You keep your cats inside, don’t you?”
Well… my son’s cat is an indoor cat. My cats (Finn and Ditch) do go out at times when the weather is nice – but they don’t wander. Ditch used to go on our walks with us, and he used to wander around the neighbourhood, but he got scared a few times, and now stays close to home. Besides, I now only let him out when I am out there, for the sake of my garden.
Finn goes out, but hasn’t left the backyard. Ever! After all, she was the one who took a year to come out of ‘her’ bedroom, and another couple of years to move out of the kitchen and off the deck (they are both still indoor cats, really, who spend a few hours outside when the weather is nice.)
But as I expressed all of this (for I couldn’t possibly leave out any information) someone commented something along the lines of me being cruel to her, and that is why it took so long for her to come out. She laughed as she said it, as did everyone else in the room that heard it, but…
I don’t get those jokes.
I just don’t.
It is like when I had my foster daughter, and she screamed at every diaper change – and a neighbour walked by and commented, “What are you doing to that baby!” and I think maybe it was a joke, but it didn’t feel like a joke. These things never do to me. Years later, that still hurts. I was just changing her.
My cat doesn’t like change.
I did not marry my husband for the insurance.
I do not want to sell my baby.
So not funny.
Communication is hard.