Tales from real life
|Sometimes, the best part of a relationship is what you don't share.
My wife and I visited our youngest and her fiancé a couple of weeks ago. They've been living together for a little over a year now, and we were happy to see the engagement ring. He's a nice guy and they're good together. We enjoyed the visit, playing with the kittens they adopted last spring and generally catching up.
There was a moment of friction, though. Our family has a sometimes unfortunate habit of teasing each other. It's usually all fun and games, with everyone getting a turn in the middle, but sometimes it goes too far. Betty shared a 'funny' story about Devin that embarrassed him in front of his future in-laws. It made us laugh, but he was visibly annoyed. In one sense, it meant that she considers him part of our family and fair game. But it also meant that she doesn't fully recognize his boundaries. I couldn't help but think that it would have been better to keep it as an inside joke between the two of them.
What and when to share? Which thoughts do we inflict on the world around us, and which do we let pass quietly? It's a lesson that takes a lifetime to learn. I am sometimes reminded of a line from a movie or TV. It may not fit the situation perfectly, but I toss it out just to hear it out loud. Sometimes people get the reference and laugh, often I get a blank look. Once in a while, they take offense. 'But it's such a good joke' is a poor salve for injured feelings.
We have to remember that funny is in the ear of the listener. I like to tell 'dad' jokes to make myself laugh. The exasperated groans from my wife and kids are just part of the fun. They seem to enjoy my enjoyment. If I miss an obvious setup, they're disappointed and ask why I didn't knock down the punchline. I think they see their participation as a gift to me.
Over the years, I've had my ups and downs. There are times that I get lost in my own head, spinning in a pointless eddy of negative thoughts. I've wondered, at times, if I'm 'on the spectrum' of bipolar disorder (it's in the family). I've learned to keep this moodiness to myself. It passes with time, and my wife can deal with quiet withdrawal much better than with the aimless, angry rants echoing in my mind. Once the fixation passes, I can barely remember why it seemed so important.
'Words Whirling 'Round' isn't merely a handle. It describes how my head feels. There's a constant flow of comments, jokes, and non-sequiturs that stream in the background of my consciousness. Is it right to set it loose on an unsuspecting world? Just because I can, doesn't mean I should.