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Speaking in a Semi-Conscious State

Updated on January 5, 2012

Conversational Candidness

I Didn't Mean to Upset You, Dear.
I Didn't Mean to Upset You, Dear.

Being Candid Yet Potentially Hurtful

Have you noticed that there are certain people who have pet (not animals in particular but not to be excluded either) stories they like to tell over and over ... and over? Anyone can get mixed up about what they've said to whom. However, a small group of others seem unable to keep records of this mental log in any accurate way whatsoever. Either that or they simply don't care. All they require is someone's/anyone's ear.

The unconscious manifestations of one party can be a form of torture for the listener.

From my experience the "pet" stories that come out of a friend or spouse have no real pattern in subject matter or the impact of the impression. The stories can be first-hand or anecdotal.

The incredible thing from my perspective is that the speaker hasn't a clue that he/she has brought up the same subject twenty times previously. They will proceed to tell the same story as if it were the first time, and their emotions about the subject do not seem to have lestened nor evolved.

Feeling worn out by having to listen to a broken record, I brought up this detail to my wife. She said she had no awareness of bringing up the subject previously, then spent the rest of the evening in a distant silence.

I don't even know how to catalog this kind of behavior. Ninety percent of the time, I slip into a limbo state and will stare at some point on a wall, or I will try to recall the interlocking subjects to one of Mahler's symphonies. Sometimes I'm caught staring into space, and asked whether I'm being bored or not. As an individual who cannot stand squabbling or getting the silent treatment, I always lie -- and I've gone through this procedure so many times previously that I keep one ear open to the monologue, thereby giving a pass-worthy accounting of my attention (if asked).

All I can do at this point is share my awareness of an unconscious loop that occurs in some individuals. There is probably a good, psychological reason for the behavior, but (unfortunately) I have no way of knowing what it is. Maybe someone with a PhD out there can shed some light on the subject.

Meanwhile I will be grinding my teeth.

As soon as I see my wife getting on her bandwagon, I often try to pull her off quickly by saying, "You told me this before." Even having said that, she will continue for a bit longer but in a truncated way. It's really obvious that she share these stories with someone (and I guess that's okay), but when you're the sole recipient of the broken record, you have a choice of getting angry (which gets you nowhere) or let your mind drift to something of significance to you personally.

This seems like a greater punishment to me than that doled out to the "average Joe" because I do not want to store my memories. I don't harbor resentments because they do not obsess me. Feeling good for me now is being able to pay a month's bills on time or finding out I only need a new crown instead of a root canal. I think it was Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" who said that happiness was for women and children. I don't know if it is true or not, but I get a sense of where the sentiment arises.

Since my wife seems generally happy bringing up her rapitori of time-crafted stories, I will probably do what I've been doing -- unplugging the greater portion of myself and allow my mind to drift to a thousand different paces. Until someone can provide me with more profound advice, I just do not see any alternative.


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    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 6 years ago from Irvine

      sarmack: Thanks for sharing your insight. I have tried getting this problem onto the table; however without success. The things people do unconsciously (especially repetitive behavior) seems to be beyond an individual's control because they have no awareness of it. Although irritating, I'm not going to leave my wife because of her absent mindedness in this one area. I could be "honest" with her each time we started heading down a well-traveled road, but it would only end up with my hurting her feelings -- it wouldn't morph the behavior. What's "funny" too is that she has forbade me from talking about ANY of my problems. Her reason is due to the fact that her mother is living in East Europe and whose health and mental faculties are going down hill. My wife says she simply cannot carry the additional weight of my problems -- at least for now. Therefore, I stay quiet a lot of the time. It's far from a perfect solution, but if my silence keeps her from becoming unhinged, then I guess it's okay (if sometimes irritating). Making self-sacrifices for the sake of something higher is a kind of "policy" that supersedes the virtues of being entirely honest -- if such honesty would bring only additional misery. Life (for me) is much more complicated. Sometimes, the truth is a savage thing. In a marriage if one partner has a problem, it automatically becomes a problem for the other. Marriage is a kind of symbiosis where being either ruthless or saintly intrinsically has a fairly immediate impact upon both entities. This is not mutual dependency. Forfeitures and relinquishments are done quite consciously (if they are done at all). In simple terms what a person does for the sake of his/her marriage is an investment -- and nothing in this world worth "having" is obtained without a leap of faith.

    • sarmack profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago from Washington State

      The Truth is always better than sidestepping an issue. If a person's feeling are hurt, it is their problem. And, they will get over it. Truth and honestly, always the best policy.