dogs, ideas, lessons learned, mental health, narcissists, psychology, skills

What’s the harm in pumping up the volume a little?

I’m taking a break from my travel blogging to offer today’s regular blog post. It’s not a holiday in Germany, but Bill is home today, because it is a US holiday on post. He made us breakfast– what we usually eat on Saturdays– and walked Noyzi, who was just reunited with his collar last night.

When Bill picked up Noyzi on Sunday, he forgot to retrieve his collar, which the folks at the Hundepension had removed while he was staying there. I think Noyzi likes wearing his collar. Sometimes, he reminds me a lot of our first rescue, a blue eye beagle husky mix named CuCullain (CC), who also loved wearing his collar and hearing it jingle.

CC was very well behaved, and had a temperament much like Noyzi’s. Sweet, but slightly aloof at times, and more prey driven than pack oriented… And, just like CC, he hangs out with me all day, quietly lying at my feet, but rarely making any demands. Unfortunately, we only had CC for 16 months, as he contracted a very rare and fatal mycobacterial infection (Mycobacterium Avian). Sometimes, I think CC has come back through Noyzi, although Noyzi is also very much his own dog.

Anyway, as we were eating breakfast, I played a video I made on the ship. I put it on the first travel blog post I wrote this morning. Bill grimaced as he listened to it. He said, “I don’t like the sound of my own voice.”

I sympathize. I don’t like listening to myself speak, either. And I earned minors in both speech and communications when I was in college, worked in radio broadcasting, and am a singer. I don’t even particularly enjoy my singing voice, although other people claim to like it. I don’t mind hearing myself as I talk or sing, because it sounds different when you’re listening to your voice in your own head. When you hear a recording of your voice, you hear yourself as others hear you, and it can be disorienting.

But in Bill’s case, it goes beyond that disorienting feeling of hearing a recording of his own voice. For as long as I’ve known him, Bill has said he doesn’t like the sound of his own voice. The first time I ever heard him speak was over the crackling connection of 2000 era VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Back then, I didn’t think he had a particularly offensive voice, but I distinctly remember him confessing that he didn’t like hearing himself speak. He says he still feels the same way 23 years later.

As I got to know Bill better, I noticed I often had to ask him to speak up. He later told me it was because when he was a child, he was often encouraged to “use his indoor voice” and squelch that natural instinct children tend to have to be loud. I don’t mind a man who is conscious of being too loud in public. But sometimes, it pays to be assertive and speak up… and out. There are many reasons I think that learning this skill is a good thing.

First and foremost, speaking up is a way to bolster one’s own self-esteem. When you speak up, and speak clearly, you are letting people know that they should listen to you. Mumbling quietly may be less offensive to others, but it also has the potential to send the signal that you don’t think very highly of yourself. It might make some people think that you aren’t assertive and won’t stick up for your own interests. That’s how you end up rubbing elbows with people like Ex, Bill’s “war buddy” boss who was later very publicly fired for abusing troops, or our former landlady.

Secondly, speaking up and sounding more assertive makes other people, like bosses and colleagues, think you’re more competent. And that can lead to more success in the workplace, as long as you’re not too outspoken or obnoxious (like I tend to be). It’s not that I don’t think Bill is competent. He totally is, and his coworkers know it. But a slightly more confident and clear tone to his voice certainly wouldn’t hurt. I think it would also make him feel better about himself. He has a lot to say, and most of what he says is well worth hearing.

Bill has been working with a Jungian therapist for the past couple of years. It’s been a life changing experience for him as he learns new things and discovers truths about himself. So this morning, I suggested that maybe some speech therapy or even simple exercises– mindfulness– about his speech habits, might be another avenue for him to explore. It might be another way to grow. He might learn to like the sound of his own voice more, and that will lead to an improved self-image.

I also know from personal experience that public speaking is a great skill to have and, if you’re a bit of an exhibitionist, like I am, it’s also a lot of fun. Bill is not an exhibitionist, and does have to speak in public for his job sometimes. I know it’s not something he naturally enjoys. But– augmenting the voice and realizing that you have something valuable to say can lead to audience appreciation, which is a wonderful thing. I know. I’ve experienced it, and it can be like a drug. πŸ˜‰

On a more selfish note, if Bill learned to speak up, and speak clearly, it would make it less necessary for me to ask him to repeat himself when he uses his “indoor voice”. I don’t think I need a hearing aid yet, but I often have to ask him to speak up when we talk to each other. It wouldn’t require much… just a slightly more confident air, and the psychological realization that in general, people DO want to communicate. And the more confident a person sounds, the easier it is to communicate effectively.

Most of all, I want him to erase those old destructive “tapes” that go through his head, telling him that he’s a bother to others, that he isn’t worth listening to, and that he shouldn’t be strong and assertive. I don’t think that was the original intent of the adults who told him when he was a child that he should pipe down… but I do think he somehow internalized the message that his natural proclivity to make noise was upsetting or displeasing to others. As he grew up, he never quite deleted the message that he shouldn’t speak up sometimes. Squelching one’s inclination to speak up isn’t useful to an adult (unless they’re on a luxury cruise ship complaining about their “bum” adult children for everyone else to hear πŸ˜€ ).

As we learned on our recent trip, most Americans don’t have a problem with speaking up and speaking out. Far too many of us are way too loud in public spaces. Bill is not one of those people. I love listening to him, and I want him to like hearing himself more. Of course, it’s up to him to decide if this idea is worth pursuing. I will always love him, either way. I just think he might find it an interesting and useful avenue to explore.

I also think learning to speak up is a great way to ward off narcissistic creeps who try to take advantage of “nice guys”. It’s not a bad thing to want to be liked by others, but sometimes that desire can be detrimental. Narcissists love people who are quiet, don’t rock the boat, and are reluctant to speak up and be heard. So, if anything, being less shy about speaking, and more comfortable turning up the volume a little, might be good for warding off the many assholes in our midst.

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blog news, love, marriage, musings

Today’s WordPress prompt is… “Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you.”

Not long ago, I wrote a post about how my blog host, WordPress, seems to think I need “special help” with my subject matter. Recently, I noticed that at the top of each new blank page, there’s now a “prompt”– a question or a suggestion on what my topic should be for the day. I think this is a new feature, as I’ve only just started noticing it. I see I can hide the daily prompts if I want to, but I probably won’t bother with that. Although I doubt I’ll need to use the prompts regularly, there are times when I could use a suggestion. Sometimes, even I get writer’s block– like if I’ve got a hangover or nothing exciting has happened. But I usually have SOMETHING I can write about, even if I’m the only one who’s interested in the subject.

Today, for instance, I could write about Donald Trump’s ridiculous “big announcement”, which turned out to be really embarrassing and stupid. He’s selling Trump superhero NFT cards for $99. Jimmy Kimmel put it as “QAnon meets QVC”. Seriously, this is “not a good look” for Trump. I’m sure a lot of his supporters– many (but not enough) of them former supporters at this point– are feeling kind of sheepish and humiliated now, as their former hero who promised “greatness” is shilling more worthless shit to the masses. Trump is legitimately embarrassing on so many levels now. Just like with Ex, whenever I think I’ve heard the worst about Trump, there’s another layer of rot to excavate. It’s unbelievable that so many people fell for his lunacy. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that one of my cousins bought Trump’s stupid superhero cards. There are too many people who still worship him, though the number is dropping.

How dumb is this?

I haven’t bothered to watch Harry and Meghan on Netflix, because I haven’t been bored enough for that. I am reading Matthew Perry’s book, though. I know I’ve seen him in some things, although I was never a Friends fan– again, it aired at a time when I wasn’t available to watch a lot of TV. I bought his book because I like true stories, and his was getting some good press. So far, I’m enjoying it. Matthew Perry is engaging and funny, though some of his story is sad and scary. I’m four chapters in so far. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on his book soon.

Or I could write about how the dishwasher that was supposed to get to us last night is coming this morning… (ETA: The dishwasher is still delayed) and Bill will be home later today, much to the dogs’ and my relief. I’ve been on the wagon all week, too… mainly because Arran has been getting me up every night , sometimes two or three times, so he can pee and beg for food. He left me alone for 3.5 solid hours yesterday after I yelled at him. He slunk away with a guilty look on his face, as if to say, “Gee mom, I didn’t realize I was imposing that much!” It’s hard to stay mad at Arran, even if he is a little stinker… and he always has been, so this is nothing new. Prednisolone just amplifies the effect. Luckily he’s adorable, sweet, loving, and very loyal. But I really need a full night’s rest! So does Bill.

Yes, I have a lot of topics I could write about, and I don’t necessarily need WordPress’s help. But WordPress has queried about what the one thing is that I hope no one ever says about me. That’s actually kind of a hard question to answer. I’m a pretty forward person, and I’ve never been one to hold back. Lots of people don’t like me, although I don’t think I have too many true haters. Most people just find me annoying for any number of reasons, ranging from my distinctive laugh to the fact that I drink and swear a lot. Most people don’t seem to appreciate the fact that I’m outspoken and opinionated. I’m sure a consequence of growing up with people who repeatedly criticized and disparaged me, often in favor of other people’s kids, is a major reason why so many people seem to think I’m an asshole today.

I suppose a lot of people would be horrified to be thought of as an “asshole” by so many other people. Most people want to be liked. I used to be that way, too. But I found that trying too hard to be liked by everyone was impossible, exhausting, and pretty pointless. Because those who would want you to not be your authentic self for them are not people who would ever be a true advocate. In other words, they’re “dead weight”. I’d much rather have a few loyal, true friends who love me exactly for who I am, than a bunch of “friends” who love me for what I can do for them or a false persona I put on just so I can feel liked and included in a group.

Does it hurt to be– or just feel— disliked and uninvited? Sure, it does. But at least I can wear my jammies when I’m alone, and no one will criticize my laugh, personality, looks, or opinions.

Also, I suspect that even those who feel like others think of them as an “asshole” are overestimating their real impact on other people. I, for one, agree with Eleanor Roosevelt, who said “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. And, while it may take us aback to consider how little other people actually care that much about us, once you get past that initial shock, the end result is kind of freeing. Because when it comes down to it, people have their own lives, and their own problems… and the truth is, they probably DON’T think too much about you and any “asshole” behavior (from their perspective) you might exhibit.

So… I guess if I’m going to answer WordPress’s query, I would say that the one thing I would hope people never say about me is that I’m a fake. You may not like what you see or hear from me, but rest assured, it’s authentic. I try to be a good friend. I may not always say or do what other people want, but I do things with pure intentions. I don’t intentionally screw people over– which is NOT the same is letting them screw ME over without protest. The one kind thing my dad used to regularly say to me when I was growing up is that I’m a “survivor”. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t feel like that’s true, as I suffer pretty badly from anxiety sometimes. But, when I look back on my life, I realize that he was right. I am a survivor. A lot of times, that means I’m alone. But I am my true self when I’m alone, and I’m myself when I deal with other people. I’m never going to be popular, but what you see is what you get… ALWAYS. Or almost always… because I have to admit, there are times when fakeness is needed for survival. Like, for instance, being polite to an authority figure when you really feel like going off on them.

I feel like I came into Bill’s life for a reason. It was like the universe set it up. Matthew Perry writes about it in his book, about how, against all odds, he got cast as Chandler Bing on Friends. I think I was meant to be Bill’s second wife. I’m here to teach him new things… new ways of dealing with people. Maybe I was a washout as a career or family woman, but I think I’m here for different reasons… if only to show my husband that his voice counts, too. He doesn’t always have to appease other people and strive to be liked. His voice has worth, too. The real him is better than the fake persona he put on for Ex and other people who tried to force him into a place where he doesn’t fit. There’s a place where he DOES fit, just like a puzzle piece. And it’s with me, because I love him for who he is. He rewards me by loving me for who I am. It’s all I could ever ask for. If even one person can do it, it’s enough.

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