Indelicate questions

“Is that a boy?”

I have my answer to that one. “Some would say Yes, some would say No. I would say, ‘I am Clare’.” I was bothered by her father quickly dragging her away and whispering at her. I wanted to interact.

“I said there were only girls here”, he told me. He sounded irritated.
-I would not want to interfere in your bringing up your child, I called across the garden.

It’s my friend’s garden. Before today, I have met one person here, and the husband of another- the husband wasn’t here- and it is mostly friendly. The father went off for a walk just after, and when he returned the family left.

I would like greater openness. I don’t want him giving the conventional answer, I want understanding. I want the child able to ask such questions- “What happened to your arm?” “Why is your face like that?” “What’s a miscarriage?”- to hear the experiences of people rather than the standard view.

Later, when most had left and we were in front of the fire, drinking champagne, I brought up that I had grown up in Argyll. I had to explain what a septic tank is.

-Oh. Real country. What’s that like? So I told my Argyllshire tale of woe- this one. This produced an outburst of sympathy. That’s Awful! I have processed it, though. I am not upset about Inez any more, hardly about my sister.

Here is the wonder of blogging- here, I can work this out. I have processed that story. I don’t want to be dragged back to feelings of misery rejection and frustration. It just is. Perhaps, now, I could tell that story to elicit feelings in others for my own purposes, rather than to process my own. It took a long time processing.

I am inspired, though, by Maria, who has suffered a miscarriage and recounts others’ insensitivity. There are several what [not] to say posts around. The worst thing is if two people’s raw nerves are touched at the same time, like the stutterers who got into a fight because each thought the other was mimicking him. If I am tired, or feeling vulnerable, I find it harder to deal with remarks, but at any time someone might touch a sore spot. And I used to have a big red button, which people would notice, and push- “Clare, I find you profoundly masculine”- and I would collapse into a wreck. It is so liberating not to.

Some people need to deal with their own stuff, when they hear of your distress. Some want you not to be distressed, and that can be selfishness, because they find openly expressed distress embarrassing. They want to tidy it away, like Cassie’s father yesterday, which left me feeling aggrieved. Some are emotional vampires: they want you to express your distress, so they can sympathise, but if I am distressed there are times I want to process it, perhaps with help, and times I want to just get on. When I see others’ need, I offer assistance and state that I do not need to be needed: it is lovely to help, but often others want to deal with things on their own.

There are no rules with this. I don’t like what I see as the other imposing control or conventional understanding on my feelings but this may just be rationalisation- I was somehow uncomfortable in that situation.

Renoir, two girls in black

2 thoughts on “Indelicate questions

  1. “Is there anything I can do to help?” I try to use it as a response if it seems appropriate just to let someone know that I care even if I don’t thoroughly understand.

    Liked by 1 person

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