What to Say?

Once, when I was walking into the Narthex of my church to attend a funeral, I ran straight into the daughter of the deceased. I never know what to do when something like this happens and although I know the daughter well, I had no idea what to say.

I know I mumbled something and practically ran into the sanctuary. I don’t do visitation because of this lack of knowing what to say and I am not good at knowing how to handle these kinds of situations when thrown into them.

Right now I am especially having a hard time knowing what to say. I told a friend the other day that never have I written so much that I then either backspace out or move to the trash heap on this blog.

I attribute my lack of spoken words in a tough situation to my lack of training in these matters as a child and my total lack of confidence in really anything I say (or do!) I have another friend that I used to laugh with because every time she and I had lunch with a group of friends, we would come home second guessing every word we had said.

Most times after those lunches either she or I would text the other apologizing for something we had said or questioning to the other if what we said warranted an apology.

Over time I got more confident with these friends and was able to come home confident in the knowledge that they knew my heart and automatically forgave me if I had misspoken!! (I also felt sure they would call me out if I did say something too outrageous!) Now the only thing I feel bad about after our lunches is if I cuss too much- and again, I think they now know I am prone to do so and forgive me!

Lately, of course, there are no lunches to come home from or to worry about what I might have said. It is now 4 months since we have been able to get together for our monthly lunches and I miss talking face to face with my friends and I hope they miss my minor cussing lapses as well.

I feel like there is nothing I can say that is the right thing these days. Usually when I write, I feel that I am a little better with my words than when I speak. You guys that read me regularly know that I would rather write than talk. I can weigh my words. I can read them aloud and decide how they sound before someone else hears them. The words have time to make sense to me. I can edit, delete, rearrange and reconsider before anyone “hears” what I am saying.

And yet, right now, I am writing, rereading, reconsidering, and trashing almost every word I write. I know that in some cases there are no words. In other cases, I feel that no matter what I say, it will be taken the wrong way. I feel like even the questions I write (because y’all know I have NO answers, only questions!) are controversial.

And not because anything I say is really all that controversial. It seems everyone has a side. Everyone is super sensitive and ready to fight. And I stay so bewildered that anything I say sounds lame or inconsequential.

If I get too in-depth on a topic, then I feel it will just alienate people because few people want to listen and discuss. So many people have their agenda and trying to start a discussion only makes for hard feelings.

At dinner the other night, my husband Tim and I had a good discussion with another couple. I am way more liberal than anyone that was at the table, yet I felt comfortable expressing my views and trying to understand theirs. We weren’t as far apart as it would seem. I did come home wondering if I had said too much, but it was more because that is just in my DNA to question myself and less because of the actual discussions.

I will admit it felt really good to be able to talk freely and listen to the views of others openly. My major take away from the evening was wishing that more discussions like that could occur nationwide.

For all of the blog posts I have written and discarded, for all of the texts I have typed in and then backed out, for all of the Facebook posts I have started to share and then reconsidered, I wonder what that is doing to me during an already confusing and disheartening time.

Writing is how I think things through, how I express my feelings and ponder the big questions. As I have written before, I believe having your creativity stifled messes with your psyche. So many of the avenues I usually have to use my creativity are closed to me right now and it is taking its toll.

I just finished reading Cleo Wade’s book “Where to Begin”. In it she quotes her friend Maud who once said, “There are times when we must speak, not because you are going to change the other person, but because if you don’t speak, they have changed you.”

I believe that. I believe my inability to feel comfortable writing pretty much anything of substance is changing me. I think that my loss in confidence that my fellow man can read something with an open mind is changing me. I do not like that change.

I wrote in my last post that right now is not the time to stay silent. But I also wrote that it is difficult right now to confidently say anything lest you be shouted down by others. I do not do well in conflict and controversy. It seems everything right now is full of conflict and controversy.

I do not know what to say, what to write, how to share what I believe. In some instances, if I am honest,  I am still trying to decide what exactly to believe.  So many people seem so sure about what is right and they leave no room for thought, discernment, or enlightenment.

Trying to find compromise, to be fair-minded and use common sense, seems to me like the way to peace and understanding. And yet, right now, it just feels like the way to make everyone angry! People want you to pick a side and move there permanently or shut up entirely.

So, what to say? I don’t know. I wish I did. I feel the need to speak, but to say what?


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.