Breaking The Rules Of Engagement

I caught myself doing that thing yesterday, where someone in the office said Hi, how are you? and I started to tell him. I mean really tell him, despite a well-developed understanding of the rules of engagement when it comes to small-talk.

Hi, how are you? I’m good thanks, how are you? Yes I’m fine thanks…

Instead of that widely accepted exchange, my mouth went rogue on me and he almost got chapter and fucking verse. Poor bloke. I managed to rein it in before his eyes glazed over but still, I bet he won’t be in a rush to exchange pleasantries with me again any time soon.

The thing is, I felt a long way from fine yesterday. I suspect the events of the last two weeks caught up with me a bit. I’ve always been able to cope whilst the shit is actually flying, you know? On the odd occasion where things have gotten a bit too much, any ensuing meltdown has been perfectly timed to happen behind closed doors after the dust has settled. I’d be the first to admit that I’ve got a terrible track record when it comes to letting the mask drop. I just don’t.

Yesterday, there were probably four or five points during the day where I almost went over the edge, you know that way where you teeter on the brink of tears for no reason whatsoever? It’s a bit disconcerting, when you’re used to being in control.

I’m wondering whether my desire to over-share has anything to do with the fact that for the first time ever I haven’t taken solace in food as a way of coping? Perhaps if my mouth was busy eating cheese balls or Daim cake it wouldn’t have time to try and provide an update on my wellbeing to innocent bystanders who have no reason to be interested in what’s going on in my life.

The other possibility of course, is that it’s an age thing. Maybe those small-talk rules of engagement are no longer valid once you hit middle age? I can guarantee that if you sat my mum on a park bench next to a complete stranger, within ten minutes she would’ve given them the complete lowdown on her medical history and enquired after their own.

I remember coming out of a shop once, where my mum had been sitting on a seat outside waiting for me. As I approached, she introduced me to the woman she’d been passing the time of day with…this is Joan. Joan had a prolapse! I said hello to Joan and wondered whether a round of applause was appropriate.

Either way I was mortified yesterday at this urge to spill my guts about what a shit time I was having to anyone who’d listen. I felt stressed, not to mention old and weary. I guess that’s what a sore heart, lack of sleep and a head full of worry does to you, right?

However, despite everything I still haven’t tried to use food as a crutch. I’m counting every sodding calorie that goes in my mouth, and I’m managing to find time to work out. I don’t pretend to understand why or how, but the discipline is strangely comforting.

What a weirdo, eh? 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Breaking The Rules Of Engagement

  1. Hahahaha – oh fuckme, “glazed over” eyes. Now: a) You have the smarts & charm to spin out stories that people LEAN IN to listen to. It’s a talent, it’s a gift, & it’s a present you give everyone. Whatever the subject matter. And, b) this stuff is actually going on, the newsreel is spinning in your head & heart, these are not treadbare reruns. You ARE facing these, erm, Challenges, you’re dealiing & coping. LOL, but entirely different from a sorry self-involved recluse on the last available seat on the bus!

    Oh, c) given the huge numbers of people in your age group – still more are in my age group – we do have a staggering amount of “company,” caring for Aged Parents. Any anecdotes you share are probably so welcome. Love ya, FK

  2. Oh, Dee, don’t be so hard on yourself. Unless you usually tell everyone your life’s woes, I’m sure people understand. It’s when you make a habit of throwing up your problems at strangers that people roll their eyes when they hear you start your rant or avoid eye contact when when they see you coming.

    Dee, it sounds to me like you’re a bit numb from everything. Yhatsbnormal. Your coping as best you can without food as your crutch and that’s amazing. I’m glad your friends are there for you. Hang in there!

    How is your Mum?

    1. She’s doing okay thanks Tracey. Sore and very low mood but that’s to be expected I guess, we are just trying to keep her smiling as much as we can ?

  3. Sorry your having a hard time right now though it is totally understandable that you would be. I hope you have some close friends you can confide in and cry on their shoulders if need be.
    It is hard to feel our feelings and not self medicate. Take care of yourself Dee in ways that are good for all of you heart, mind, body, soul.

  4. It all has to come out somehow, we talk it out or cry it out or eat (or smoke, or whatever our choice of unhealthy coping habit happens to be). Your plate is overful, yet making time to sit and talk to someone or go to a grief support group might help.

    1. That’s not a bad idea Mimi. I wonder what might happen though if I open those particular flood gates. We might all get washed away!

  5. Getting use to feeling the feelings and living with ourselves. Tough. I cried a lot when I first was trying to cope. I had been someone who ate all the time. Switching to meals only was super hard, even with a lot of small meals. Then when stressed, I really struggled. Food had been my response to everything. And I have had major anxiety since babyhood. I cried a lot honestly.

    I often think about addiction transfer when I contemplate this whole topic. Easy to see how some people move from one thing to another. I spent a couple years cross stitching instead of eating, just to distract myself. I know others who knitted. I suppose the smart ones walk it off.

  6. It’s a strange place to be in, where you know that food won’t really give you any comfort (or not for long) yet you’re not quite sure what else to do with yourself. I know you will get through this, sorry you are having such a hard time.

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