A Good Listener

“Quit’cher bitching, Bill.”

I’m not being harsh, or doing verbal self-harm.  My tone is passive, and comes from decades of learning how to blend love and backbone into a single expression of positive affirmation.

And just to clear up any misconceptions, no, I have never been spoken to like that.  Not by anyone.  Not by parent, not by loved one, not by coach or by clergy, not even by the occasional bully from my childhood, but only by myself.  In the way I say it, it is a gentle nudge, in love, received with the slightest turn of my head as if to acknowledge that I heard the words, and not as an assault, I would never take it said any other way, by anyone other than me.  And I absolutely would not speak in that way to anyone other than me, because there is no such thing as a subtlety, caring enough to grant the rights to that figure of speech from anyone, to anyone, but me.

I have earned the right to talk to myself that way.  I love me some me, and since, for the majority of my life, I have had no one’s encouragements, merely everyone’s passive endorsements, shared in one-size-fits-all words like, “You can do anything you set your mind to…” (which is pure bullshit), or, “I’m rooting for you…” (which is about as helpful as a few hundred people at a ballpark with 50,000 empty seats, doing the wave, while their team is losing 17-to-nothing in the bottom of the 9th), I am the one who will have to fill that void, with my own version of encouragement. 

So don’t worry.  The time of me hating on myself is long past.  I just want someone to tell me the truth in a way that is tender, yet firm.  And if someone should do that in a way I can believe, believe me, I will listen. 

I used to be a good listener. 

I’d like to think I still could be.


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