So there I was today, standing at the nurse’s station, discussing some of my mother’s medications with one of her nurses. We reviewed what she was taking, and then proceeded to confirm her need to use a walker or a wheelchair for certain activities.
While her nurse was flipping through the chart, I was studying her. She is African-American, about six feet tall, as graceful as anyone I have ever seen, and an utterly stunning human being. I got to that part of my musing, and without any forethought or realization of what was coming next; I blurted out, “You are so pretty.” She looked up, surprised, and said, “Well, thank you.”
I believe the appropriate exclamation at such a moment, at least internally, is “OMG! Did I really just say that?” Accompanied, of course, by a vigorous internal face palm. I mean, seriously woman, where in the Sam Hill are your filters?
I always told my children just because you think it does not mean you have to say it. And here I am still shooting things right out my mouth as fast as I think them. Still is the operative word, here. This is not a new behavior, just one I thought I had tamed.
It always has been a shock to me when I say things I think I am just thinking. And it is not always easy to explain my unfiltered thoughts to those who happen to hear them. Like the time I was in a county-wide training, and had the misfortune of sitting two tables away from one of those people who learns by repeating out loud what she was just taught. You know, the person who always says, “In other words…”, and then repeats it word for word. Not in other words at all, just the same thing only in her voice instead of the teacher’s.
This had gone on for over an hour, and after one too many “In other words“, I was thinking, “Oh, would you please just shut up?” Only it turns out, it was not merely a thought. Yes, right out loud, and with enough volume to cause everyone in my immediate vicinity to turn their heads, all at the same time, and look at me. There was nothing I could do but utter an “Oh dear. Sorry. I did not mean to say that out loud.”
It was even worse when I was in a serious informational meeting where our section manager was presenting the new manner in which we would be managing our caseloads. The demands were so huge, and numbers of customers requiring services had become so great, we had to move from individual caseloads to group/team management. I am not, nor ever will be, a team player, and sat there horrified at what I was hearing.
I thought, “Oh no, this isn’t going to be some of that It Takes A Village crap is it?” My section manager slowly turned and looked at me. She took a little bit too long before speaking, and then said, “Yes, Gail, this is exactly It Takes A Village crap. And the whole village working together is the only way we will be able to get this done. Got it?”
“Uh, yeah. No problem.”
After that, I made every effort I could to keep my thoughts to myself. I did retire the year after that particular gaffe, so perhaps the relaxation and lessening of tension contributed to my reformation. Or maybe living with family who love me covered that slippery slope between my thoughts and my words. I do not know, but I believe things improved for a time.
I have read about changes in our brains as we age, and losing some of our filters is not uncommon. I also have read that fatigue, being distracted, and dealing with many demands can cause the same behavior. I am not certain precisely where I fall in this cause and effect thing, but I am considering having one of those fathead.com wall decals made of myself, and the next time something I was thinking slips out of my mouth, I will point to it and say, “Nope, I did not say that. She did!”