Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I've Grown Weary of the Conversation Check-Out

I've long been the type of person who pauses in the middle of a conversation to think. Since my migraines went chronic, I've also become the type of person who suddenly can't recall a word mid-sentence. Thanks to this brain fog, I've found myself in many an awkward, embarrassing and frustrating social situation.

I'm only feeling awkward, embarrassed or frustrated because of what I like to call the conversation check-out. See, it's a rare thing these days to find people willing to slow down enough to have meaningful exchanges. In fact it's become a rare thing these days to find people willing to slow down enough to allow me the time (and kindness) of letting me express myself when I'm struggling to bring my words from my foggy brain into my mouth.

People are moving so fast, all the multi-tasking and technology constantly pulling focus away from humans and the present moment. This rushed feeling, this hurried energy oozes out from every pore and puts all kinds of pressure on our interactions. Then if you don't move quick enough, or you're not flashy enough the people around you check out. Oh sure, they might pretend to listen, nodding or grunting from time to time but you can tell.

Yep, the conversation check-out. That moment when the person you are trying to talk with disengages. It sucks and I'm sick of it. I'm sick of trying to rush through my thoughts to get them out before others disengage. I'm sick of pretending like I don't notice when they have. I'm sick of small talk and conversational platitudes. I'm sick of the frantic energy that kills so many precious opportunities to connect with the humans around me.

I'm actually a reasonably intelligent woman. When the person I'm with is plugged in, my brain fog eases and I can express myself much better. The pressure I feel from the rushed, frantic energy that has become so pervasive is pulling my focus away from the conversation. My migraine ravaged brain can't always manage this distraction and suddenly I can't find my word. Any search for a word that goes beyond a couple seconds seems to trigger a disengagement from others, which quickly cascades into me feeling more pressure and getting more distracted. Suddenly, bringing that word forward becomes impossible until the pressure decreases. But by then nobody cares about what you have to say or what you were saying.

Right or wrong, people do make judgements about my level of intelligence based on these kinds of interactions. Like it or not, having so many of them has impacted the way I'm approached. I want to change this pattern. See, few things flip my switch the way exchanging ideas and diving deep into meaningful conversation does. This is how I connect to people. I need more of it.

I'm deeply frustrated by the ratio of surface interactions to meaningful interactions. It's getting to me.


  1. I hear ya! My least favourite symptom - aside from the head crushing pain - is when I lose the ability to converse like a normal person. I use a completely wrong word. Or I think for ages & can't come up with any word at all. I don't understand others' simple statements/ideas. My personal fav: in the middle of a sentence I realize that I have no idea what I was talking about. Sometimes I keep going & hope it'll come to me. More often I stop, feel like an idiot, and ask what I was talking about. I used to be reasonably articulate, well-informed and could pass for intelligent. Not so much anymore. These episodes leave me feeling so so stupid and with no dought that my brain is a little broken.
    Thanks for sharing your frustration. You're not alone in it! Linda

  2. I hear you! Well written, and I can completely relate.