Talk and talk and listen not
I went over to a friend’s house on Sunday for a couple of hours and had a nice chat. She’s one of those friends that I seem to find in abundance, who cannot seem to stop talking long enough to listen to someone else and although that’s a bit annoying at times, it takes a lot of pressure of me when all I have to do is listen. It was a lovely afternoon that had sunshine, red wine and a gorgeous salt water pool that had been heated all morning so the water was a lovely 85 degrees. She warmed it for Colt, hoping it wouldn’t be too cool for him so he could swim while we chatted away a few hours. Dayne came too and the two boys played in the pool for most of the visit….I was happy with my wine and the sunshine on my skin.
“So how are you feeling these days?” My friend asked with kindness, looking genuinely concerned.
“I’m doing pretty good! The new medicine seems to be helping my sleep cycles a lot….”
(Although recently I’ve been tripping into pits of sedating-drag-me-under tiredness like I used to before the meds. Not sure if they are losing efficacy or if other factors are affecting me. Worrying….but, I’ll see the specialist again in a few weeks so will discuss. She seems to think it’s the quality of the sleep I’m not getting that is tipping the scales, but we will have to see.)
I had paused for a moment to think of how to share the rest of that info with her without making it turn into a long story of my sleep issues and before I could take a breath to speak she jumped in to tell me how tired she has been lately. She is not one to think out her words so she went on and on for a long time and by the time she was done, half her life story had been poured out onto the patio table in front of me.
This happens with people….a lot. I’ve never really understood why. I do love supporting people and it’s a wonderful thing to me when someone trusts me with their secrets and heart aches but it just never seems to be turned around and there’s no place for me to talk in these friendships. I guess it’s okay…..I’m not one to wear my emotions or deepest thoughts on my sleeve, out there for anyone to see, but it still annoys me when people cut me off to talk about themselves; particularly when I’m trying to share something with them that I wouldn’t share with many others.
Another recent example: I have a friend who I see once or twice a year who looooooooooves my son to bits. She was his first EA at school and lives just down the road from us and had watched Colt for us each summer since his grade 2 year on the days the regular sitters are away. She is sweet, passionate, kind and loves to talk….endlessly. Sometimes I can’t get away from her, she’s so engaged, and many times I ended up late for work when dropping Colt off in the morning because she has chased me all the way to my car, still talking until I closed the door and drove off..lol. She is a super friendly and social gal. 🙂 I do really like her and Colt adores her so it’s a nice visit when we connect…..mostly. She watched Colt for us one day right before school started and when I went to pick him up we stood in her hallway catching up a bit (aka she talked about her life, vacation, recent trip, weight loss, exercise routine, dogs, pool, back yard renovations, job, health, happiness, memories and kids….and there was more I’m sure I’m forgetting!) She knew I had some health issues going on and stopped at once point to ask how things were going for me.
“There have been some interesting developments since we last connected.” I said. “I was just diagnosed with narcolepsy and…..” She cut me off here. “Oh! Narcolepsy! That’s what I think I have! I get tired at work every day no matter how many coffees I have and I looked it up online! I’ve heard there is a stimulant out there that you can buy, something “phedamine” (sic) or something like that. I’m going to ask my doctor for that next time I go in.”
She asked about my symptoms and I got a few words in before she cut me off again. Every time I said something she would interrupt with a response like “oh yeah, my husband has that” until I just trailed off and she started talking again.
Me: “The sleep paralysis is…..” Her: “Oh that happened to my husband once!”
Me: “Yes, but along with that and daytime sleepiness there’s the REM component….” Her: “Oh I have really vivid dreams! I had one the other day where I was riding a pedal bike up and down some hills and the trees were very tall….” *insert a 15 minute explanation of her various dreams here – I’ll spare you the endless details*.
Then she told me she wants the name of the meds I take, the name of my sleep specialist and all the details so she can get her doctor to refer her to the same everything as me. She told me she was thinking that dexedrine would be the drug she’d want to take…I told her that it was a controlled substance and highly addictive….she disagreed….said it wasn’t in the same class as meth.
. . . . .? “Meth? I’m not sure I understand. Are you thinking of amphetamines?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think so…I don’t take any drugs like that. Even Advil is too much for me and I get so sick when I take anything other than baby aspirin.”
She lost me completely here. I just kind of nodded and shook my head in what sounded like appropriate places and left confused. Anyway, she’s dead sure she’s got the same thing as me, even though she never gave me the chance to tell her the symptoms or even what I was taking to help with them. She says she gets super tired at 230 every afternoon, despite drinking gallons of coffee so….what else could it be? *sigh* “Did you try looking up SAD?” I asked. “Or maybe have your blood checked for sugar levels, or cell counts?”
No….no of course not. Her self-diagnosis is based entirely on the fact that she is tired in the afternoon. I wanted to tell her that we are in our 40’s now and that your body changes….you can’t live off coffee and cigarettes like we did when we were teenagers, but wasn’t able to get a word in so I gave up on the thought.
So that was that. I left her place with Colt, $50 poorer and with a list of details she wanted from me so she can get diagnosed with narcolepsy, like me.
Sometimes I just don’t get people.
Once in a blue moon I’ll try to talk to someone about the PTSD or depression I went through and the only thing I heard in return was their own story. Even rarer, at this point in my life, I’ll tell someone a bit about what I’m going through with the sleep issues but the same thing happens. That or something stupid is brought up. Last week I was in one of the clinical areas when I walked into a conversation about someone who was dreaming a lot. One staff member was trying to tell the story of her dream while the other was cutting her off to tell her about Jung’s theories on dream interpretation and I got dragged into it by someone else who knows a bit about REM issues and dreams I have.
“You want to talk about dreams? Grainne is pretty much an expert!”
I didn’t even get a chance to open my mouth before the other one was telling me all about how your subconscious mind works away at problems and stresses while you sleep through dreams; how things that maybe seem totally abstract upon recalling the dream, might have very specific and clear meanings. I let her go on and didn’t say anything…I mean, she thought she was being all interesting and clever, but I’ve been dreaming like this my whole life and it runs so much deeper. She doesn’t know though….we’re not friends really, so I let her instruct me on how to start a dream diary so I can write down my dreams in the morning so I don’t forget them. Ha! I wish I could forget most of them but I can’t. I remember other dreams while I’m dreaming most of the time….and write them down? I have years of them. Anyway, I managed not to roll my eyes at her in an obvious sort of way, smiled and left.
When I try to talk about Colt or a difficulty he is having I get talked over so they can tell me about all the struggles their own kids face. That or they immediately identify that they have an autistic kid somewhere in their family or friend group and go on to explain, in detail, each difficulty the child and parent faces. I understand that they are usually just trying to identify with me and the things I’m (trying to!) tell them, but it still sits funny in my head. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve talked enough in my life and now it’s just time to listen. Or, maybe my whole life is just about listening to others….maybe that’s what I was born to do. I know it sounds like a complaint….this entire blog post….but it’s not meant to really. I’m pretty much okay with this stuff but it’s one of the reasons I don’t go out with people much outside work. When I’m here I feel like I have a role to play but when we’re hanging out in their back garden, sipping on a glass of wine and dangling our feet into a warm salt-water pool, I kinda like to get a word in edgewise. But then again, the hug she gave me when I left made up for it all. Plus, Dayne was happy that I got out and did something social for once and Colt had a blast swimming the afternoon away. So…win win. I think.
I went home and crashed from 4 pm until Monday morning. Worries me. I don’t want these meds to stop working but things are changing with them. It’s likely the quality of sleep I’m not getting at night so, hopefully, the doc will have an idea as to how to help that without jumping directly to heavy-duty sleep meds. Will have to just wait and see how it goes.
About GrainneMy name is Grainne. This blog has been with me for years now and has served as a journal, a confessional, an outlet and a place for me to create and express my love of life. Thank you for stopping by and for becoming a part of this life long journey of mine. I appreciate every single one of you who takes the time to do so. :)
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