A couple weeks ago, I ran into my friend N while waiting in line for our parent/teacher conference with K’s teacher. We have known each other for a very long time, and her daughters match-up in age with M and K.
She asked a simple question, “How’s M doing at the military school?” I took a deep breath, started to speak, but I could not string words together. I started 10 sentences within 20 seconds, but I couldn’t finish one – my words were not coherent.
Staring at my husband I mumbled, “I’m so sorry; it’s like I don’t even know how to talk.” My husband seemed perplexed by how nervous I looked and confused by my inability to express my thoughts to my friend.
Some people intimidate me. And I bet they’d be surprised if I told them so. These people are not strangers, in fact I’ve known many of them for over 20 years. In their company, I worry about a sea of things. What do they know? What did they see? What did they hear?
On the flip side, I’ve discovered that when I am around friends and acquaintances with whom I’ve been honest about hardships, I am able to be myself. There is no need to carefully choose my words before I speak while in their company. It all comes out so freely with those I’ve been honest.
Being honest through the written word has allowed me to mend the uneasiness I’ve felt for years around some people…my spoken words may still sound forced, but I can physically and emotionally feel this big protective wall coming down.
And before I know it, I’ll be able to finish a sentence around N.