I don’t talk a lot. It probably has something to do with being an introvert. In any case, I can happily go for long stretches without saying a word. With that … um … said, when I do talk, I generally have something that I want to say. I’m not just talking to hear noise in the air. And I want to be listened to.
This doesn’t always work out in my family. I have a busy, hardworking husband; a teenage daughter with the usual array of friends and interests; a nearly teenage son who will talk your ear off about whatever book he’s reading; and a mother who prefers to fill every empty second with sound, as if she’s afraid of silence.
Sometimes, when I make a statement, I have the vague feeling that I didn’t say anything, after all, but only imagined the words leaving my lips. No one responds, no one’s activity changes; they all go on with whatever they’re doing or keep talking about other things. This happens most frequently when I speak about something that I read, or saw, or did, and my statement introduces a new topic that they weren’t thinking or talking about already. I might get part way through an explanation of something that happened during my day, and be interrupted, and then experience the sensation of never having spoken — someone else’s words or actions intrude on my thought, and when the interruption is finished, no one makes any effort to return to what I was saying. Lately I’ve become a little more assertive and occasionally started reminding them, “Can I finish what I was saying?” The response is surprise (oh, was she talking?) followed by hurried agreement that yes, by all means, I should proceed.
It’s a curious feeling to have my words be ignored. When you talk to yourself, you know that at least you are listening. But when I speak, and the words dissolve into the air like mist, seemingly unheard, I wonder why my thoughts, which matter to me, have so little consequence.