October 21, 2008

My 'A' is a Vowel and My Minute is Long

The other day I had the most disturbing conversation that I have had in a while, worst than arguing with my strongly opinionated republican boss about how much of a piece shit that Joe the Plumber is. Maybe my logic is off, please let me know. Sit back kids and let me tell you a story. For the minute now, I have had a friend that from the very moment I have met them I felt comfortable talking to. No reservations or second thoughts. Talking to them, it felt completely natural and safe. So for a long time they was one of my always available listeners that I had no problems confiding my stories to them. A trust not easily given away but just felt natural so I did. So what is the problem you say? The problem was my assumptions. I assumed that they were a listener and it never occurred to me that they were also a story teller. Or would retell my stories. Because they never really told me stories, just listened to mine. A one way street. It didn't occur to me that they would share my stories. So when it came to my attention that one of my stories was told and how it came out, it was shocking and upset. I didn't like it so I said how felt about it but I never ever thought it was trust breaking issue. But somehow it took a nasty turn. If I tell a story, in my words then an a is a vowel and a b is a consonant and a minute means a long amount of time. All that I asked was to understand that and remember that when I tell my stories that my a's are vowels, b's are consonants and a minute still means a long time. When someone else tells their own stories it's their own dictionary and rules. I thought that was simple and easy enough to respect, I do and would do the same for anyone else. Respect their wishes. But my friend told me that they don't think that a is always a vowel and a minute is not that long, and that it's not a big deal because they don't think it's that important to honor that in my stories. That's where the fight was. They told me, since they don't think a is always a vowel and a minute is that long, basically, I can't expect my story to maintain it's integrity. And if I wanted that then I need to explicitly say to them keep my a's as vowels and my minutes meaning long. That is a problem for me. How can I trust someone to maintain the integrity of my words if they don't believe or even willing to acknowledge or respect my rules in the stories that I have? Maybe their a's are consonants, I can respect that, but my a's are always vowels and my minutes always mean a long time. And constantly having to say please treat my a's as vowels and my minutes as a long time does not make a person someone you want to share with because it makes you feel like you can't relate or trust them. There is a fundamental disconnect. If every time I needed to speak to a person but I am required to say "Do you understand?" basically means that they don't understand and it needs to be re enforced. And over time you don't want to speak to them because it's too much trouble and it feels uncomfortable even speaking to them because they never really understand. And sadly the fact of the matter is that I enjoyed speaking with them and now I have that doubt in my mind of my words losing their integrity which can easily make someone, untrusting like myself, more cautious to share them. So what does one do about that? You become careful about the stories you tell, you filter. You don't share stories that has a's in them. Because we have been close, I really don't want to have to do that. But if they are going to stand by that ideology that a's are whatever they think it should be even when coming out of my mouth, unless I explicitly say so, makes that person someone that could be problematic to deal with and also makes you feel like you should not be sharing stories with them because in their mind your story is already misinterpreted. I think the primary reason the conversation did not end well was because they full heartily couldn't see an a as a vowel and they thought I was trying label them as a bad person or being worst than I am because I treat an a as a special character instead a regular consonant. That was never my intent, it was never about who's right and who's wrong. It was about how I expected my words to be handled and interpreted. I don't think that is unreasonable to expect that, especially since all this time we have been able to enjoy a trusting relationship where my stories were not retold incorrectly. There is no one person that is right and the others is wrong. There is no negotiations and terms of agreement to need to be made for us to have a good relationship with words. It is a simple matter of trusting someone and sharing a respect level both ways. What is disturbing is that I thought we had that, only to discover that it doesn't matter how I speak my a's are not always vowel and my minute don't mean a long time even as only a particular weirdness to me when it comes to this person. And that stubbornness and lack of respect for my stories and their integrity hurts and feeds the anger of any betrayal regardless if we are talking about a's, b's, c's, or z's. Here's the hard question, would you still grant someone the same level of trust with your words when they, to their core, disagrees with you and refuses to see or acknowledge that you have your own rules that relate to your own words? How do you handle a disconnect of meaning?

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