Show, don’t tell.

The Pedant called me tonight. He said he just wanted to see how I was doing.

His voice doesn’t get mushy when he talks to me on the phone. He always comes across as very level and sort of impersonal. But the fact remains that he made time in his horrific work schedule to call me, and although he didn’t specifically say “I’m calling because I know you’ve been trying to activate the cell phone I gave you on a pay-as-you-go basis and the process has been intimidating you so I’m here to answer any more questions you may have,” I’m like 95% sure this was in fact his motivation.

So we talked on the phone as he rode the bus home to sleep for like five hours and then wake up at 3:30am to go back to work again. And I vented a bit about my issues getting this cell phone activated – how I feel like I’m at an age where technology is just baffling to me and it sucks. And he said it’s not my age, it’s that I’m assuming I won’t be able to figure things out and scaring myself pre-emptively.* He pointed out that there’s no huge hurry on most of the technological things that are stumping me right now – that completing tasks a few days later won’t really have an impact – and told me that when I feel myself freaking out I need to step away, take some deep breaths, etc.

Which is such Anxiety 101 advice that it’s almost laughable, and you’d think I would be rolling my eyes right now, except 1) I regularly forget to do the “stop and breathe” thing and 2) I had no idea that The Pedant (who often says he doesn’t get how human brains work, misses social cues, etc.) had such a dead-accurate read on my thought processes when I’m anxious. I think on some level I assumed he had a very different idea of me than who I actually am. I also assumed that if he fully knew how much I can tie myself in knots over practically nothing, he’d stop liking me. But he knows. He knows how I get and he still made a point of calling me at this particular point in time, realizing full well that he’d probably get a deluge of “Arrrrgh why is this cell phone thing so complicated” ranting when he did. .

Also, sometimes I think giving obvious, platitude-style advice is just a way of expressing caring. It’s like when you go home sick from work and your coworkers go “Get lots of rest and drink some juice!” – they don’t really think you didn’t know to do that stuff, it’s just the thing you’re supposed to say. You know what it is, actually? They’re giving you permission to take care of yourself. And a lot of people (including me) need that. Basic self-care is so often seen as lazy and self-indulgent.

The revelation that The Pedant actually knows how fucked up I am and still loves me** is astounding to the point where I’m feeling kind of tearful right now.

The revelation that I have not been hiding my anxiety bullshit as well as I thought I was is…less good.

But still.

*Actually, I *do* think it’s partly my age/the way technology has advanced, and argued my point with him. But he’s definitely right about me freaking myself out, too. I wonder whether it really is only that but I just want to be able to blame part of my misfortunes on something other than myself?

**Let’s also remember that The Pedant has, in the past, made offhanded comments about most women being crazy/irrational/etc. Granted, my particular mental glitches take a way different form than the stereotypical “chick stuff” he’s bitched about. Still though – he did not seem like a good candidate for being absolutely vulnerable and honest with. Which is why I’ve always talked about my various angsty things here or with friends way more than I’ve talked about them with him. And I’ll continue to do so, because the sheer volume of my angst is too much to lay on one person. But it’s encouraging to know that he is willing to help me and won’t bail the first time I tell him I’m feeling anxious and I need him.

1 Comment

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One response to “Show, don’t tell.

  1. Chuck Reader

    Hey! I’m an over-the-hill straight male who shares your phobia with bad grammar, and — more to the point — your struggles with technology. A couple of decades ago, before computer programs became so common, I wrote a program to manage my investments. Now it has stopped working and when I look at my code I find I don’t even understand it!

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