Ever had one of those knee-jerk, immediate gut reactions to something without knowing where it came from, and made some emotionally charged unthinking response?
Shut up, you have so. It’s an involuntary impulse we all have. The words are out of our mouths before we consider their basis or their impact. It’s what gets politicians and celebrities in big trouble. When we don’t think before we speak we usually end up saying something we actually truly mean. And possibly immediately regret. Usually no amount of embarrassed revising, fumbling with different words, or flustered back-tracking can save us.
So that’s why, once I’ve said some asinine thing out loud without thinking, I like to walk away and pretend it didn’t happen. That way when someone confronts me with it later I can act all innocent and artless about it. What? I don’t think I said that. Come on. I’m sorry you got the wrong impression. Poor me, so blameless and misunderstood. I’m not saying this is the best course of action to take. Maybe it’s the worst. Maybe a preventative smacking of myself in the head before I speak would be helpful.
I started thinking about this because of a rather innocent little thing that happened yesterday. I was being advised by someone (who, by the way, gives out unwanted and unsolicited advice to everyone, twenty-four/seven) that I should tape an Amsler Grid to my bathroom mirror and look at it every day. My mother had macular degeneration, and this grid is a test for it. The CNIB website can tell you everything you ever, or never, wanted to know about it, or you can check out the information on Wikipedia here. My immediate reaction was a sudden strong desire to tell her to piss off and leave me the hell alone. Yes, you may well ask, where in the world did that feeling come from with such a vengeance? I stomped off to the lunch room to wonder about it myself, before I could make some angry idiotic comment.
Normally I don’t try to analyze these things too much, but this time the reasons kept popping randomly into my head, so here they are:
1. I don’t want to live in fear of something that might never happen. It’s not proven that this condition is hereditary. If it happens, it happens, and then I’ll deal with it.
2. I don’t want to tape ANY damned thing to my mirror. That’s so tacky I can’t even think about it.
3. Her mother had Alzheimer’s disease. Have I suggested to her that she should put post it notes asking ‘what is this?’ on every object in her house, so that if one day she can’t remember the name of something she’ll know she’s got the disease? No, I have not.
4. I don’t want to be reminded every day of my mother’s struggle with something for which there was no cure.
5. Anyone who dares to tell me what to do deserves to rot in hell.
Okay, that last one was a bit over the top. Anyway, it’s done, I didn’t say anything incredibly stupid, and it’s time to get over it. Don’t give me any advice about all this unless you’d like me to bite your head off for even trying to make me see sense. Oh God, did I say that out loud? I’m pretty sure I didn’t mean it.