Monday, January 25, 2010

Conversations

The conversation, actually several of them, keep playing over and over again in my head. It keeps me awake at night. It occupies way too much space in my brain. And, it's so old and boring I don't know why I bother, other than it still really bugs me.

I'm talking about the "I coulda-shoulda-woulda-said" conversations that I just can't shake-- The ones when I regretted the words the moment they crossed-- or rather didn't cross my lips and I knew I'd be replaying them for years to come.

95% of the time, I was "being polite" to the person I was talking with instead of really speaking my mind. The other person was usually telling me my business but I either kept my mouth shut or I made light of the load of you know what they were shoveling my way.

The other 5% of the time, I was just too stinking slow to think of a good comeback line. Damn!

Countless times I've rerun these little chats with myself, remembering every detail of the original conversation, only this time, in my head, I find my mojo, my voice, my nerve, my attitude, my balls-- whatever you want to call it, and speak up for myself saying what I really mean.

Like my sixth grade teacher-- The meanest woman an 11 year old ever met. Every single conversation we had for an entire year started with her saying some less than encouraging remark like "I knew you'd get it wrong." Oh yeah, she was a real inspiration. But every time she blasted me, I was polite, and frankly, I was afraid of her, so I didn't let on that she was a mean old battle ax with bad breath who didn't know squat about my academic potential.

Imagine having that conversation with yourself for the past 40 years! Like I said, some things take up too much space in my brain, but I still remember each instance and know exactly what I should have said.

My last conversation with my high school sweetheart rattles around my head too. In short, he wanted to get married, I didn't, so he cheat on me. Yes, the same guy that was going to marry a virgin (aka me!) slept with somebody else. And then he told me it was all my fault-- To which I responded...

"Oh Bob, I am so sorry, I didn't mean to make you cheat on me."

You can only imagine the talking to I've given myself over that one! If I had it to do over again, I would bitch slapped Bob until he begged me to stop and then I'd slapped him some more.

But the conversation repeating in my head is not to the teenage boy, it's to the grown man of today, who is why I have never made apologizes for a man's shortcomings ever again.

Some of my other conversations are too colorful or just plain ugly to repeat but suffice it to say, I would have taken a whole lot less hatefulness and fired way more attitude back in my defense.

It only takes a song on the radio or seeing a particular style of clothing to spark a memory that rewinds a conversation. Other times the taste of a certain food or the smell of a certain scent is so powerful it gives me pause-- Until the I-coulda-shoulda-woulda-said conversation starts up again.

The good news is that none of my original conversations on instant replay have happened in the last 25 years, rather they are conversations from "my youth". And in each case, they were a significant life lesson that, although painful at the time, shaped in part, who I am today. At least that's how I justify it....

But let's face it, I talk to myself way to much.

Do you have I-coulda-shoulda-woulda-said conversations?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Lai Leng Yiap - Fotolia.com

67 comments:

  1. Men have shortcomings?? That was a wonderful, heartfelt post, Joanna.

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  2. "...bitch slapped Bob until he begged me to stop and then I'd slapped him some more."
    Wow! Double WOW!

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  3. yeah i have a few that come back every once in a while, but like you they typically shaped who i became...so i;ll leave them to lie.

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  4. OMG!! All the fricken time,.. I feel when we relive those "fun" moments we are to learn from them, and if we haven't taken what we needed then it will replay,.. over and over and over,..
    But seriously BOB or should we say BLOB is an Ass FACE!! UGH!!

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  5. Why can we always think of great comebacks after the fact? That's what I would use a time machine for.

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  6. I sometimes wish I hadn't said what I did....kind of the opposite situation! I'm sometimes too outspoken--always was.

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  7. Ummm...yes.

    Was that a trick question?

    Sometimes I'm just too slow to answer on the spot because I can't imagine someone being so cruel or stupid. Once I figure it out, I feel as though I was part of a hit-and-run and I was the aftermath.

    Like you, I notice it slowing down as I get older, but I think that has more to do with whom I elect to have in my life.

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  8. Yep, I never come up with the clever comeback until I replay the incident over and over in my mind. To top it off, I cry when I get angry and that makes anything I say pointless.

    Very good post. I mean every word.

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  9. I sure do! And like you said, most of them are about things I didn't say instead of things I did.

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  10. It's not just you, I've got those, too. I have to admit, some of mine are more recent than 25 years ago.

    I went to a new doctor for an ear infection about 3 years ago. This guy was a piece of work and had a nasty disposition. I was (like you) polite and didn't call him out on it. A few days ago, I finally came up with what I should have said to him (not appropriate to repeat!). Why couldn't I have thought of it at the time?

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  11. Ok, that eyeballs-and-teeth thing in the picture is friggin hysterical. I love that thing! I think I dated it once. ;-)

    Yes, i too, have those rewind convos, arguing with people who aren't even there. When I realize that I am doing it, I usually stop, though. My best gf at work always has the perfect comeback. I tell her I want to carry her around in my pocket, for just such occasions!

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  12. Oh yes I have had those conversations too. People come into our lives for a reason and we should be grateful that they leave our lives for a reason too. Sometimes not as quickly as they should.

    As you say its all part of our learning journy. The key for me is to set such good boundaries that once someone treats me less that I deserve than they are out of my life altogether. The older I have got the less I feel it necessary to say my piece and find it easier to walk away. I am opinionated so it is very hard let me tell you.

    Hard to do when you are a child or they are related or you have to work with them day in and day out, lol! In those cases I am careful to not say the first thing that enters my head but to be more strategic about what I say and do. I have also learnt that only hurt people hurt others. It helps to think that way.

    Wonder what Bob is doing now and what regrets he has. Think of it this way he helped you get to the place you are now. Thank God for Bob I say! Great post Joanna.

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  13. Your post elicits memories long forgotten. As I was reading, many such occasions from my past came flooding back. I found myself in so many situations where I just didn't say what what on my mind, or in my heart, only wishing much later that I had. Not only in childhood, but throughout a good portion of my adult life. I've always been a laid back, no big deal kind of person. The problem with this approach is that too many times in my life, I've allowed others to walk all over me. It has taken me most of my life to speak up and stand up for myself.

    Now, I speak up, challenge people if I see the need, and never walk away with regrets.

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  14. when I go to bed and need to sleep the conversations start in my head and I never get the answers I'm looking for. most of the time I was wishing for a do over when I had the right sassy words.

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  15. I use to spend way too much time thinking of things from the past that I could not go back and change. Some of things just haunted me to no end. Then the rest of the time I would worry about what might be coming...the future. If all my time was spent fretting over the past and worrying about the future...how was I ever to enjoy today?

    I heard about a book that addressed things like that and I read it and it changed my life. I don't usually rely too heavily on the advise of authors, but this one was different for some reason.
    The book was, The Power of Now...by Eckhart Tolle.

    I am enjoying it for a second time right now.

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  16. I can be going through my day, minding my own business and WHAM; right between the eyes is one of those "conversations"!! Grow...smoow...I care. I don't want to relive it at all! I just push it out of my head and move on! LOL!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  17. There are so many people I would love to go back in time and bitch slap. And maybe karate chop too.

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  18. Oh, yeah, we all have those. For the most part, I feel that it's probably better I kept my anger tamped down and my mouth shut! But every once in a while, I do manage to get out a zinger. Your ex-boyfriend story reminded me of the last line I said to my last boyfriend, just before I walked out his front door: "It's your loss."

    Damn, that was a good one! Makes up for all the other coulda-woulda-shouldas!

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  19. Hey thanks for the comment on my rainy day blog. Here I am checking out your blog and very excited to find someone (even close) to my age range! I'll be 55 on February 5th. Our generation may have a lot of shoulda, woulda, coulda talks with ourselves but, we don't have to look back in shame for the lack of manners or class with which we have handled things. It's entertaining to think of the sassy, even brilliant things we shoulda, woulda, coulda done or said though - I have those conversations in my head all the time. Then I remember the college essay I had to write on the virtue of Prudence and I remember that it really is okay not to say whatever comes to mind. How awesome is it though, even after the fact, in a blog no less to relive and re say and redo anything you want. I love this! Your blog is fantastic. You look like you totally have your blog act together. I'm coming back here this evening when I have a chance to sit down and read some more. By the way, I was born in Hollywood and your sights are very familiar to me. My son goes to LMU and has much your same view right now. Joanna, it's great to meet you. I have a feeling you are going to be on my regular list of favorite blogs. Blessings!

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  20. I still come up with snappy retorts... at least a week or so too late!

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  21. I'm one of those "day late and dollar short" people. I'm not reall good at quick responses. I just laugh like I know what is going on, and then try to figure it out on my own later.

    What a great post!

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  22. Rarely; I tend to say what I want. Although occasionally I will let politeness win and have revenge-conversations..."I shoulda said..."

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  23. All the time. Regrets... no matter what form they take are hard to shake.

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  24. There are so many times I wish I could re-do a conversation and say what I really think!

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  25. I had one of these in my head for several months. And the odd thing was it would hit me every time I drove over a certain stretch of road. Can't say why. The stretch had nothing whatsoever to do with the conversation or the person or anything. So odd.

    Cheers,

    SLC

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  26. I never do the swc conversations anymore, and haven't for a long time. I do remember it being a conscious effort to stop doing that though.

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  27. I am saying "NO" more and happier because of it.

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  28. Yes, words have power. Wonderful comments from the readers--the mark of a stirring successful post. Thank you for the post.

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  29. I've pretty much always gotten in trouble for what I did say, rather than regretting what I didn't say. For as long as I can remember friends have forewarned others about me, saying thing like, "You might not like her at first, but give her a chance." One friend even told someone I had "Tourettes Syndrome." I probably could've would've should've used a little more restraint in my life.

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  30. I definitely have those moments and I kick myself for not having thought of the right words at the right moment.

    Bob was an idiot who didn't deserve such a wonderful girl anyway.

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  31. Oh, yeah, baby! I sure do have those. It is amazing how easy it is to get wrapped up in them still.

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  32. Hi there, thank you for visiting my blog, I'm so glad I was able to find yours. I could totally relate to this post and I think i still struggle with these 'could shoulda woulda' conversations. I'm getting better though and it was nice to read I"m not the only one who does that. It was very nice to meet you :0)

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  33. you are too funny! I have those conversations all the time...I'm always late with the come backs.

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  34. Oh, I had those sorts of conversations playing for much of my life until I decided "screw 'em". Now it happens a lot less frequently. I'm with Lilly - life's too short to worry about jerks.

    Great post!

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  35. OMG I have had one tonight - the words came out before I knew what was going on.

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  36. At least yours are 25 years ago....I STILL say the stupidest things or don´t stand up for myself! Just today, in a meeting I said something, I wish I could take back. I guess I´m a slow learner.... :)

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  37. You bet your life I have them! The ones from my early life are those for which I had very low self-esteem, fear of repercussion, or just knew that 'good girls kept their mouths shut.'

    In later life, there've been far fewer and every single one of them has been an instance of someone coming out of left field with something I never expected to hear, literally stunning me. I play those suckers over and over again in my mind!

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  38. Oh yes! The frustrating thing to me is that when I'm here at home and not under attack I can instantly think of the wittiest and often withering comebacks yet the next time I'm in the firing line I'm back to being struck dumb.
    Doh!

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  39. Most times, I don't think before I talk and that gets me in more trouble. My conversations are what I "shouldn't have said."

    It's a good thing I can delete and retype blog comments.

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  40. OHHH, you sure have a way with stirring up memories! I know I've got lots of those moments! And many of them were either due to being "respectful of my elders" or when I got older, I was just plain scared of speaking my mind for fear of finding myself unemployed!

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  41. Your darn tootin' gal. We all have those voices in our heads that spring back to us with at nudge of an activity or scent. Mine often come from my daddy who reminded me daily I wasn't ever good enough or amount to anything. Good thing I had enough grit to show him! Oops, did I say all that out-loud?

    Great thought provoking post! Have one fantastic day and may it be very blessed!!!

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  42. Great post! Thanks for stopping by my place recently. I think one good thing about growing old is that you don't care as much as when you were young. I say exactly what I want to most people and they can take it or leave it. I did not used to be that way but at this point in my life I don't need to be worrying about what I should have said! I wish I had done it years ago. lol.

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  43. yes - every day of my life. And I'm trying to stop those conversations and move on. But it can be so hard.

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  44. There was no one to teach me the genteel ways when I was young. So I did not know that sometimes it was better to keep quiet. I know it hurt you very much when you were in the midst of the high school sweetheart trauma. Wanting to hurt back is natural after all we are only human. I hope you are saying that you would have bitch slapped Bob and then walked away, knowing he was not worthy of your trust. These are hard life lessons especially in high school. I so understand how a song triggers old feelings, some good and some not so good. Music has always been the part of my soul that has helped me survive. In my case I don't think I have any coulda-shoulda-woulda-said more likely coulda-shouldn'ta-but dida!!

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  45. What can I say? Where have you been all my blog life.

    You are hilarious. Absolutely divine.

    I'm a fan.

    Warm regards,
    Tish

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  46. Do you have some witty replies when you talk to yourself?

    Time to banish some of those ghosts - if you can...

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  47. Boy do I ever! Starting with a few ex-boyfriends, a few bosses, a couple teachers, and my parents! Oh to have a chance to hit rewind and replay it all! Or not, come to think of it...

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  48. How often do you remember the really great things you've said, the witty rejoinders or the truly kind and uplifting stuff? I never do, only the "why the hell did I say THAT?" stuff.

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  49. Thank you for stopping by my blog; I'm so glad you did, becuase I have enjoyed myself so much here! By the way - those conversations, I have them too sometimes:-)
    The best advice I have heard is to get a fly swatter. Pretend the person you are debating with (in your head) sitting on your shoulder, and just smack him/her away. It works!

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  50. haha! i guess that´s one of the upsides to having a bad memory... and um... what´s wrong with talking to yourself?... hugs!

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  51. Oh yeah, I have a conversation with my Junior High School homeroom teacher.

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  52. Yep, I have these conversations with myself all the time. Sometimes I feel like it's a learning opportunity other times I think I'm just plain cruel to myself and it's pointless to rehash events that can't be changed. I do wish I was faster on my feet though, that would solve a lot of it.

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  53. Story of my life! (Especially in the first 25 years :) I think it's the storyteller in us.

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  54. anyone who has been divorced must go through some of this 'what if' stuff. I got to a point sometime ago that convinced me that it was a big waste of my time to play 'what if' games in my head. It is what it is.

    But I like the post and the 'bitch slapping part'. Was thinking and writing that kinda therapeutically?

    I say it all about balance but sometimes I do stumble.

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  55. Joanna,
    My first visit to your fifty factor blog. Yes , us fifty somethings sure have a lot to say don't we! Very refreshing outlook and also for me a sense of commonality with your writing.
    Much of my blog is about self awareness and self acceptance so when I read your post it was very compelling.
    I'll tell you though, I have learned to live life without regret and have learned to let go of many of the old hurts and the could have / should have thinking.
    I'm likely to tell people what I think. My blog keeps me out of trouble so I can rant a little.

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  56. Oh I have them, and the weird thing is that I have them when I know if I were in that situation again and given the choice of a millions different ways to have responded, that I would have still responded the way I did!

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  57. Woulda, shoulda coulda? Hell, it seems like I was born saying that!

    I never end up saying what I need to say at the time that I need to say it!

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  58. If only, Joanna ... if only we coulda say what we thought we shoulda said in hindsight AND get away with it.
    There's been times I've wished I coulda just kepta my moutha shut tight, like it was a vault. I admire people who have the ability to do that, but I also admire those who now how to say something that needs to be said with diplomacy.

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  59. YES! And suddenly I recall a guy from high school who really hurt me and later wrote me a note in my yearbook apologizing and asking me to forgive him. I aws stunned and too proud to tell him. I never let him know how healing those words were for me. As a woman, I look back and think he was a great guy and I wish I could have told him.

    BUT many shoulda woulda couldas!

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  60. Oh darlin I know what you mean...I just go blank at the time of any conflict or bad treatment...but at least you can come up with some fun replies in your head....I just seem to get stuck in the moment that was...maybe we'll get better when we grow up!

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  61. Nice reflective post Joanna. Occasionally those things play through my head but I've learned over the years that I can't change the past. I can learn from it but spending much time there keeps me from living in the now.

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  62. You are just so nice! That is why you keep having these conversations with yourself. Now my conversations with myself tend to go more like "You really shouldn't have said that".

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  63. sorry I missed this one yesterday....right up my alley!! I, too, have those conversations with myself, BUT...and I have a big one (but, that is, not BUTT ;-)) is that I did speak my peace one time and even though the recipient deserved what she got, I swore to myself I would never, ever do that again, no matter how much the person deserved it. I wasn't nasty, I was just full-out blunt. I had had enough and I couldn't hold it in any longer. But, the result was surprising. It didn't make me feel better (well, maybe for about 5 minutes) but after that it actually made me feel worse. I regretted it. I didn't apologize because I didn't really say or do anything wrong, so what happened was that neither of us spoke to each other for a year. (it was with a friend). I kept on having dreams throughout that year about her and finally I realized I had to speak with her. Our friendship survived it and I learned a lot from that experience. So, don't beat yourself up over missed opportunities. Things happen for a reason and they have a way of sorting themselves out whichever way you handle it. Hugs.

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  64. hah! I always rerun conversations and cast myself as the more sassy, sophisticated and full of attitude type...when in reality...oh well!!

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  65. Oh yeah. I drive myself crazy on a regular basis going over my imaginary conversations.

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I really appreciate it.