My Sore Tongue

I’ve spent a lifetime biting my tongue – I realize this may come as a surprise to some of you.  Well, maybe not a lifetime…I was a kid once, long ago it seems.  I’ve been observing this socialization process with grandson D:  it’s normal to have feelings – let’s figure out what’s going on – but no, it’s not OK to say that…it hurts her feelings, it hurts my feelings… let’s try another way.

Keeping it zipped up is what we humans do to get along: we self-censor (as opposed to being censored by others, which is a whole different story).  Self-censoring is of course a mixed bag, but sometimes, I know my tongue isn’t as sore as it should be (- at least I think I maintain some awareness of that).  Less tongue-biting is a verifiable consequence of getting older – older folks have less interest in censoring, & eventually, less ability to do so no matter what the situation.  Well, I’m not in that latter boat yet (am I??), but it’s not hard to imagine the skiff of indiscretion sailing in over the not-too-distant horizon.

Most of us spend a lot of time chomping on that amazingly versatile human primate organ. I’ve noticed that the tongues of teenagers & NIMBY’s are more intact.  Others with intact tongues are probably older (as noted) &/or have some kind of brain, drug or personality disorder – whether or not we’re able to recognize/acknowledge it at the time.  Sometimes it seems that we of northern european heritage are especially adept at living with sore tongues.

I’ve had a lot of experience with zipping it up – even though it clearly goes against my nature.  20 years as director of a transportation agency in an actively anti-tongue-biting community; 30+ years as a mother of daughters ; 40+ years as a partner & wife of a kind but introverted workaholic …well, it’s a miracle I can still talk.  I suspect that others however (you know who you are!) occasionally aren’t too pleased at this miracle.

Social media majorly tweaks these tongue habits.  An objective of social media is to be provocative (& self-promoting, & sometimes even genuinely supportive & newsy & useful, etc.).  I have mixed feelings about this aspect of our tech lives:  I enjoy the validation of folks telling it like it is (especially when I agree & when it’s not being directed at a certain person, although some certain persons seem to intentionally make themselves fair game & I’m not naming names); on the other hand, I cringe at making validating comments myself about these validations.  Even so, at times even I unzip online…& then I hit delete.  Well, most of the time.

For me, blogging itself demonstrates the challenge of balancing voice with discretion: how to be relevant & open (as well as scientifically accurate) while also treading that fine line of not revealing too much of the everyday junk of our deeply emotional human primate nature.

So…hey – thanks for reading in spite of sore (or perhaps not-sore-enough) tongues.   Mine – most definitely – & probably yours too.  I’m game to keep walking this fine line as long as you’re willing to help me get back in line when I lean in too far.

This entry was posted in Cackling Crone, Just an Everyday Life, Our Primate Nature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to My Sore Tongue

  1. Jean Brocklebank says:

    There you go again, Linda. Writing something that has me thinking again. A healthy exercise!

    I think one of the most important lessons (by example not necessarily by tutorial) we can pass to our children is that it is okay to tell us their feelings…about anything, without stewing about how we will react. The other important lesson (again by example) is that there are ways (where one will be heard) and then there are other ways (where one will probably not be heard) to share our feelings or to ask a question. In other words, allow our children the freedom to speak for themselves, about themselves and then counsel them to listen to others as they do the same. This way we do not censor what is said but rather offer wisdom about how to say it.

    Interesting that you place NIMBYs and teenagers in the same context. As a 68 year old NIMBY I’m not sure what you meant by that. I do know that I have regretted saying some things in my long life (so far). But I do not have a sore tongue. Instead, I have tried to learn from my mistakes rather than bear a sore tongue like just so much luggage as to be a burden. I love a good rational conversation; it gets my intellectual (mental, cerebral, cognitive) juices flowing.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      thanks jean – yes i can imagine that we have slightly different takes on this tongue biting thing, but i swear i wasn’t thinking of you specifically re nimbys. i’m glad that my posts get you thinking because writing them does that for me, too.

  2. Donna Maurillo says:

    I’ll bet everyone reading this article did it while biting their tongue! Actually, I come from a lively (OK, sometimes pretty wild) Italian family, and they’ve never been known to bite their tongues. But they might bite yours. That’s mostly my Dad’s side of the family… wild and wooly types who go to church every Sunday and then throw dishes the rest of the week.

    Mom’s family is equally Italian, but they’re the quiet, sit-on-the-porch types. If Mom’s parents ever had an argument, it was when Grandpa wanted to enjoy the June Taylor Dancers on TV, and Grandma said he had no shame. She won. The channel was changed until those high-kicking legs were off the stage.

    I once asked Mom how she and Dad ever got together. I mean, they had polar opposite temperaments. I never got a straight answer. All she said was, “Not marry him? Then I’d have to give up all you cute kids!”

    • liveoaklinda says:

      your father’s family sounds like the kind i’ve often thought i would’ve liked…probably not realistic though as a daughter of transplanted minnesotan lutherans. how we ‘ever got together’ is the mystery of lifelong marriages – or rather, how we manage to stay together so long: hormones make it easy to get together while we’re young, imho.

  3. Tammy says:

    I have a perpetual sore tongue and always have. There are many things that I wish I hadn’t said but as I get older, I find myself spending so much time thinking about the best way to say something.

  4. liveoaklinda says:

    yeah me too, thanks for reminding me of that strategizing that we females do more often (now). not that it’s always successful, but probably it’s better than the alternative. i wonder, do males do this as often as we do? sometimes it feels like females do so much of the work…

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