Well well. Today I did not do too well. It started with an automatic quip at the mention of one person’s name, about 20 minutes into a conversation with the person whom I suspected might make this whole task most difficult. I was mentally prepared for this – we both knew as soon as I’d said it that I’d plucked the apple, so to speak. However, I was very careful for the rest of the afternoon to bite my tongue at a niggling bitchy comment, and for the most part was successful, turning to alternative conversational topics as frequently as possible.
Subsequently I ended up at the Rectory for drinks (where, in keeping with my February resolution, I did not drink – and, on recollecting the last evening I spent there, was more thankful than ever for my pledge of sobriety) and opportunities presented themselves in scores. At first I chose to speak of other topics; I deliberately steered clear of people whose presence or influence I thought might encourage me. I certainly heard some interesting comments, which I worked hard mentally to filter out. And then an outstanding revelation threw me over the edge, and I went on about something for a good 15 minutes. Sigh.
I felt guilt the entire time; I felt entitled to say those things which I ought not to have said; mosquitoes bit me to punish me, and the evening continued. It then became quite hilarious, with various people bitching about others in front of their faces, round table style (which, for the purposes of Lent, doesn’t count – I’m giving up bitching about others to others, and this was mostly all in good humour).
The journey home provided further opportunity. I let slip about the thing once more, but something else I expected would come up did not, and I did not raise it.
The thing I am learning is discretion. Half of the problem is not what you say, but to whom you say it, and how many times. Which is not to say it’s ever right, but that, as with gossip, occasionally it is warranted and natural, and that provided you don’t say it to everyone who knows the poor person copping the flack, maybe sometimes it’s ok.
I don’t mean for that to sound like a cop out. I would like to be able to discuss my opinions with people only when letting of steam is completely necessary and when the listener really means to listen and discuss, as opposed to merely hear and inadvertently encourage. Does that make any sense at all?