Friday, July 3, 2009

Communication

I was unloading the dishwasher this morning when I heard laughing behind me. I turned to see Sierra scribbling away on her DS, picto-chatting with Michael Jr. who was, presumably, upstairs. Here they were, in the same house, communicating by small electronic devices. And it was the sort of conversation they could never have face to face without hurt feelings or fists flying: “You Suck!!!” over and over separated only by silly pictures they drew of each other and declarations about Sasquatch. Remarkably, they weren’t mad at all. They were cracking each other up and it kept them occupied for quite awhile.

Communication is such a complicated operation. There’s eye contact, facial expressions in general, tone of voice, body language, not to mention actual words. Electronic communication is limited; all you’ve got, aside from emoticons, are the words. It would appear inferior to face to face conversation and I guess it probably is. Recently though, I was surprised at the depth of communication this limited form could deliver.

Michael and I are working on talking more, better communication in general. The tough part is that there are things that really hurt to talk about. When they pop up I get defensive or shut down. Nothing gained but frustration and hurt feelings so we tiptoe and avoid. I guess I believe that some things are okay to leave unsaid. Sadly, though, twisted through these topics are critical threads of needs and hurts, desires and aches. Stuff that needs attention.

So back to the electronic communication. We found ourselves up late one night, laptops on our laps. Michael was taking a break from his work, checking out Facebook. I was already there so he began instant messaging me. We were just a few feet away so it seemed silly but it was interesting as well because we weren’t facing each other. We were communicating with only words. I’m not sure who said what first but suddenly I was telling him things I hadn’t before. Revealing my hurts, expressing the anguish I felt for hurts I’d caused. His tone and facial expressions weren’t there to slow me down or turn me around and vice versa. For almost an hour we communicated this way. I opened up as I never had and I don’t remember when more tears have slid down these cheeks. It was a turning point. Unexpected and almost miraculous.

Somehow I don’t think Michael and Sierra’s electronic communications will ever rise above playing the dozens but if they’re not actually fighting, I don’t actually mind.
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1 comment:

  1. I can so relate to this. I too tend to shut down and turn inward when upset and simply stew about something. Evan and I have electronically talked things out before and I think it has helped our verbal communication as well. It has helped me to talk things out earlier than I probably would have in the past. And in the end, I have learned to verbally communicate my needs, concerns, etc, better than what I have in the past. I think the biggest thing is to communicate. It doesn't matter what form the communication is, just as long as you are talking, listening and working things out.

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