An Open Apology to Those Affected by Our Recent Lack of Small Talk
Dear friends, family, colleagues and more,
Wow! As I am continuing to learn more and more about myself – and sharing a large percentage of what I am learning with the world (or more accurately the handful of people reading this) – I, with the help of my therapist, have had a revelation.
I have lost the ability to make small talk. There, I’ve said it. I used to be able to talk to almost anyone – asking people about their lives, pets, children, travels, etc. I was interested and involved in two way conversations.
And then I hit rock bottom.
I couldn’t see straight and became somewhat reclusive (also known as isolating). The people who saw me at my worst were there for me – all for me – and understood that I wasn’t able to think about interacting with them in any other capacity. It was all about me, or more accurately depression and anxiety battling me, and I think I got stuck in that mode. In therapy that’s what we do – talk about what we are going through. In individual therapy it is all about me. In group therapy we listen to others talking about their struggles which, as you can probably guess, we can relate to and share our thoughts about.
Since I am open and out there about my mental illness, many people I encounter genuinely ask me how I am doing and I try to honestly respond (or say “I’m fine” if I am not and I don’t feel like going into it with that person or at that time). And then, when I am really alert I will ask them “And how are you?” But often times I don’t get there. If I don’t have something specific to say I walk past colleagues in the hallways without making much of a connection. At synagogue I try to melt into the walls or hang with my children to avoid conversation. Making eye contact which might lead to a conversation has become difficult in many situations.
That was not the old me. The old me was always had to say something. My friends and family know that. If you’ve met me since the spring of 2014, please believe me. So if you have moved, had any important life cycle events or even just a really good story to tell me in the past few years and I missed it or didn’t acknowledge it the way I normally would have – I am sorry. If you want to talk, I am here. If you want to vent, celebrate or shoot the breeze (anything short of talking politics), I am here. I may even start answering the phone (but not too often). I care, I just forgot how to show that I do.
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