What was the family communication style when growing up in your family?

It’s a very dark and rainy day out, so a run will have to wait until later, meanwhile planning on some general cleaning, reading audiobooks, and I’m also in a good mood to write. While one of the topics I’m itching to get started with is beauty and clothes, perhaps  some notes on family communication styles may be relevant first (and between posts). As all families are different, and hopefully it’ll also be something others can relate and share their memories about.

What was your family like? What were the things they said, or left unsaid, that you’ve since learned were different from other families?

My parents had quite a few perks. Mum (was also on the spectrum, posthumously noted, and in the best way) avoided talking about bodily functions and other female topics. Well, easy to see where I got that from. I don’t think I can even recall any of the apparently common “how was your day” and “what did you have for lunch”type of social bonding type of talks with my parents. They would talk about their own stuff, about people I don’t know, about things that left me an outsider. And then in the evenings watch tv – which was when I always escaped to the public library. It was more quiet there, so easier to focus and concentrate, no audio distraction to get my attention from my homework. My dad was probably more open, but still very traditional for his age, and male-typical interests – which I didn’t mind. I learned to fix things like electronics which was certainly nicer than being dragged to ballet or piano lessons (never been to either, but other children raised female in the area and time were usually exposed to ballet and piano lessons).

When my parents met their friends, the communication was very pattern following. Male topics, female topics. Talk about cars, talk about females’ offspring achievements, and then the talk about people’s ailments, with the same devotion and warmness as if they were talking about their kid getting a doctorate when they were comparing their hemorrhoids or cardiovascular diseases. Okay, that was a generational thing – I’ve been told also older Germans do or did that. I was usually dragged to these meets as a kid, and there was not really anything to do or go on with. Sit, be quiet, listen, eat cake and drink coffee or tea, maybe read books, answer the predictable questions people ask children, smile, do the culture-appropriate amount and kind of etc contact dance…

There rarely was any sharing of how anyone actually felt like. No “I feel hurt because X did Y”, “I’m probably a bit grumpy but I’m really tired because I slept really poorly last night and am in physical pain”. And none of those talks preparing me for the art of … not being in a male body. No mum telling me about how my body would change, no warnings about the stupid things a female body does… fair enough, those were taught (the technical parts) in school. But no art of how to be a delicate flower, how to best not feel like a slaughtered pig when you feel a river of blood escaping between your legs, or how to keep sanity with all those horrible female bodily functions, or even how to, you know, use some simple cosmetics and makeup and feel pretty.

People often fall to the same patterns they had growing up in their own families later. I never wanted children, so I’ll never repeat those bad things of obscurity and secrecy with them. But, being in a relationship, I’ve learned and still keep trying to better learn the art of small talk and meaningful talking. I’m an Aspie and I have alexithymia, so it’s really difficult to often express how exactly I feel, so it’s also a mystery how I’m supposed to decipher the others. But it’s easiest to start with the people you are exposed the most often, so spouse, bosses etc. How was your day? What did you have for lunch? Ask simple questions like those, not interrupting them, and trying to get the mood from around it. Good sight would probably help here, but you can work around it. I can tell if he sounds tired, and if people sound too tired, leave all the brain work until later. I like commenting about the weather or how a run or walk felt like outdoors, because that is never only about the weather – it’s about how you feel about it and share about it. No such thing as a universally good or bad weather. It’s what you think about it.

So today is a lovely rainy weather. It’s very dark outside. Last night there was a giant storm and apparently hailing; I slept pretty well but my other half woke up often, also worrying about the car getting hail damage… The art of precise sharing of emotions is still a bit mystery. In a previous relationship I used to use a multilingual advantage, so I would switch talking into English when trying to describe emotions and feelings. It worked, as English had more emotional distance than the other language we used. Now, in a monolingual relationship that isn’t an option. And if tried, it probably comes off as weirdly technical (I’ve been accused of this) describing emotions more on computer terms than well, human emotion-feeling-whatever terms. Is it my fault it’s easier to describe technical things I know well than try to describe abstract things I have no clue how to decipher?


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