Who Peed In My Pinot

*Note the reference to cats, not the derogatory description of the female anatomy.

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I have a tremendous amount of fear of both the possible awkward moment and the possible consequence of the other persons negative reaction, if I say how I feel in the moment, if I call someone out for a wrong they have done, if I press my opinion instead of letting it fade into the conversation, if I confront head on without pussy footing around the point I want to make. I’m afraid of sounding bossy, or being proved wrong and feeling dumb (exactly why I avoid the topic of Obama Care like the plague because it confuses the hell out of me), I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, I’m afraid of the awkward silence that I will inevitably attempt to fill with random words, I’m afraid of a defensive or hostile reaction, I’m generally afraid of CONFLICT in its many forms. It’s ironic actually, because for as confident and outspoken as I like to think I am, I’m usually the one sitting between two people who are having what seems to be an uncomfortable disagreement about something, and I will chime in with things like, “well, whose to know huh”, “I think you both make a really good point”, “Anyone want a cocktail? Speaking of Cocktail, that movie was on the other day. I mean seriously, what has that Elisabeth Shue been up to lately? I really liked her.” IMG_0446 (1)But, unbeknownst to me, the other two people are not uncomfortable at all, in fact they thrive in being incredibly comfortable with saying what they want to say and not pussy footing around their feelings and opinions. I whole heartedly admire this quality and I’ve decided to really work on letting go of my fear of awkward conversation and conflict, being more direct, speaking my mind and expressing myself with respect for the other person and without pussy footing around, because Pussy Footing is for Pussies, and here’s why…

1.) Pussy Footing is Hiding Under the Bed of Uncomfortability (i may have just made up that word):images After being confronted with conflict and the uncomfortable conversation that ensues, you cower under the bed, or in the corner, or behind the curtains, or on a shelf or some other weird place that cats like to hide. I have a tendency to hide behind laughter, babbling, and sarcasm. Sometimes I laugh when I feel uncomfortable, it’s like a nervous twitch or 980a2512160d0fb43050877bd23587c7turrets or something; its an oddly placed laugh in the conversation, obvious that it doesn’t belong, like improper punctuation: in a sentence!? Sometimes I start to over-explain my POV in the most round about way and sound like a babbling drunk (god forbid I’m actually drunk, then it’s even worse). And, when in doubt I use sarcastic jokes to divert, divert, divert. You can imagine how well this might go over. But, ultimately what we’re doing, no matter the tactic used, is hiding our true self, feelings and opinions, which leaves us with less authentic interaction and the possibility of both learning or teaching a new perspective.
2.) Pussy Footing is Choking on a Hairball of Regret: Oh good lord, I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it makes me to reflect on a previous conversation and think to myself, “I should have said…”. I can physically feel the hairball of unspoken words, the scratchy strands in my throat and the gagging of regret as it surfaces. Then I scream out loud, “ damn it! that’s what I should have said! why didn’t I just say that?” Well Self, I’ll tell you why…BECAUSE YOU WERE PUSSY IMG_0447FOOTING AROUND INSTEAD OF JUST BEING HONEST! You don’t get that moment back, that perfect moment where what you really want to say fits like a puzzle piece in the very spot in the conversation where it completes the lighting on the intricate cottage of the annoyingly complex Thomas Kinkade puzzle. But just imagine that puzzle sitting on your kitchen table at a 5 year old birthday party, instead of on the coffee table in front of your grandparents plastic covered couch. It’s not going to last, it’s not going to be there tomorrow, it’s going to be thrown all over the floor and trampled with muddy sneakers, and no way of recreating it.

3. Pussy Footing is Letting the Mouse Win: The mouse being fear and doubt in this analogy. PussyFooting is not limited to conversation…oh no no no, it’s also another way to describe fear based procrastination involving DOING something of importance. For example, I may procrastinate folding laundry and cleaning toilets, but I Pussy Foot around writing. House keeping is just something I do because I need to get it done, writing is important to me, on a personal level, with a fear that swarms around it like mosquitos to my skin (seriously there is something about me, i’m a magnet for those blood suckers). It’s as if we’re playing a game of cat and mouse and we let the mouse run us in circles of doubt, finally exhausting us until we lay down in our carpet house and just lazily swat at the feather on the stick.corner-cat-tree

So how do we stop Pussy Footing and save ourselves from hiding, regretting, and giving up? It’s not easy. I mean, for me, this is right up there with volume control, ‘normal’ wine and chocolate consumption, and my attempt at not cursing like my life is a Martin Scorsese film. So, I’m easing into it, like my decision to bring jean overalls back into my wardrobe. I’m starting by being more honest with myself about my feelings and opinions. Knowing what it is I feel comfortable expressing and what I truly should or would rather keep to myself, because it’s important to remember that we don’t ALWAYS have to say what we feel or state our position, some things ARE better left unsaid. It’s just as important to read the room and be respectful of others’ viewpoints, as it is not to pussy foot around. There is a balance to be had with regard to knowing when to shut up and listen, and when to be bold and brash.

I’m becoming more aware of how I communicate, what my Pussy Footing tendencies are and when I use them. I’m making myself more aware and present in uncomfortable scenarios, stopping to think about what I WOULD say if I wasn’t laughing awkwardly, babbling incessantly, or sarcastically diverting. Now that’s a brilliant concept, to think before we speak!

I need to stop referring to the ‘outcome’ of what I say as a ‘consequence’ and instead to view it as an ‘exchange’.The more I put this into practice, the less anxiety I have toward conflict, confrontation, and awkward silence, and the more I can Carpe the moment in conversation. And, I’m currently working on finding techniques to outsmart the Mouse. For example, my bed is unmade right now and I can hear the mouse calling me from the other room as it snuggles in my untucked sheets, telling me to stop writing and come make the bed. Ugh, that sneaky mouse, playing on my OCD tendencies to try and get me to pussy foot around my writing. Curse you mouse! I’m working on making that mouse my biotch!!!! I’m digging my claws in and showing who rules the litter box! I refuse to look back five years from now and see that mouse, sitting smug in my carpet house, all fat off my Fancy Feast. No more Pussy Footing!

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Now I need to go make my bed before I totally freak out.

mmhelgeson@hotmail.com

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Amy

    June 14, 2016

    You had me at ” bring jean overalls back into my wardrobe.” Love you and really appreciate your writing.

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