For as long as I can remember (yesterday, I can sorta remember yesterday), I’ve had the unfortunate problem of Word Vomit. I open my mouth to put forth my very organized and succinct thoughts, and instead spit out terrible innuendos, wandering tangents, and misremembered talking points. It’s not as if I weren’t paying attention to the conversation (because I am!), but my brain and my mouth sometimes refuse to cooperate. Which leads me into the title of today’s post: Dumbassery and Inner Shame.
I’m woefully delighted to say that I’m not alone. Any one search on the Interwebs will bring forth articles and how-tos and memes about getting tongue-tied and saying things better left in the darkest recesses of the mind. It makes me feel less of a dumbass to know that others also experience this, especially when nervous or under pressure. I mean, I still feel like a dumbass when it happens, but less of one.
Even though my (very) brief research has shown me that I am not the only one to experience the horrors of a runaway tongue, I still can’t help but feel truly deep shame and regret whenever it happens. When a word comes out wrong, I forget what we were talking about mid-sentence, or my mouth won’t release the words my brain wants to say, I inwardly berate myself. I also tend to carry the conversational missteps with me for the rest of the day, casting a pall over any and all other exchanges, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for several years.
Granted, most things I say or do, I forget within the next sleep cycle. Did I forget the word for that thing that goes on top of bowls to keep the contents fresh in the fridge? Yes (and it’s a lid, gaddammit!). But I’m not going to carry that with me for eternity unlike, say, speaking out about something I misheard and coming off looking like a bull let loose in a china shop. The embarrassment of the moment can ingrain itself into my long-term memory and haunt me at the most odd moments.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. Looking back on all of the conversations I’ve got stored inside this noggin o’mine, it’s easy to see that, for the most part, the people I had been talking to had merely shrugged it off; it never came up again in all of the chats and exchanges we’ve had since. So why do I need to carry around years worth of minor mistakes when the other person has no memory of that one millisecond of awkwardness five years ago?
To put it simply, I don’t.
I don’t need to carry that shame around. Yeah, I was awkward. We all can be awkward sometimes (some more than others, *coughmecoughcough*), but that doesn’t mean it needs to follow me around, reminding me during every other conversation that I am going to embarrass myself. In order to do this, I’ve got to treat myself a little nicer. It’s hard (nay, impossible) to do this sometimes, especially when my inner voice is haranguing me about every little dialogue faux pas I made in the last two minutes. But I know that if I talk kinder to myself, the word vomit will lighten up. And if I keep practicing at it, maybe, just maybe, my mouth and my brain will begin to communicate with one another again.
And hoo boy, you better watch out when that happens. You never know what kind of trouble I’ll be able to talk you into next.