I need to stop talking about it
January 22, 2019 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Something not so great happened to me a year ago. I really want to move on with my life. I feel like sometimes I talk about it too much and I would like to reduce this. How do you stop talking about something that is buried shallowly in your brain?

This was me. I decided to keep the baby but unfortunately lost the pregnancy in the second trimester. There was also some awful harassment from the father after they lost their job. The loss broke my heart, although I'm pleased to say my life/I am quite stable now (other than this lingering desire to talk about grief and the occasional triggering incident). I am interested in ways to manage the want to talk about it to other people who were not a party to that time of my life.

Here is an example, from this weekend, when I didn't want to talk about it but did anyway: the man I'm dating was chatting to me about genetic testing, such as 23andMe - had I had it done? No, but last Christmas while nesting, I purchased my parents the tests, tying it into the excitement of their expected grandchild. This instantly came to mind and caused me a pang of distress. However rather than say no and move on, I became avoidant and silent – prompting him to ask if everything was okay, and then press the issue when I tried to wave it off awkwardly. I ended up telling him the above anecdote, which I would have prefered not to (although he knows the wider backstory).

While I'm not particularly ashamed of what happened, I don't want to keep bringing it up. It feels like I am continually picking a scab and wondering why it's not healing. I want to make way for the good and new things in my life. How do I get myself to bite my tongue? I am in therapy, and it feels like a safe space to talk about it, but I haven't managed to corral my thoughts only to that occasion.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you keep a journal at all? Would you consider starting one if you don't?

I find that the reason writing about things helps me is 100% practical - the very act of trying to find the words to describe what is muddling me up forces me to think about it a little more critically and analytically than I do when I'm just sitting there thinking. This is probably happening because there are parts of your brain that are trying to process everything that happened to you, and the act of putting those words down on paper will still feel 100% to your brain as if you were telling someone about it.

And if you have some really amazing insight while you're writing, then you have something you can also bring to your therapist as well ("I had this amazing idea the other night when I was thinking about this issue, here's exactly what I thought - here, read this, what do you think?")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

prompting him to ask if everything was okay, and then press the issue when I tried to wave it off awkwardly.

Um. Maybe if you talk to people who respect your boundaries when you set them, you won't find yourself talking about things you don't want to talk about.

On the other hand, nobody is perfect at boundaries and I wonder how strongly you are setting yours? It's okay to say "sorry, that just brought a bad memory to mind, but I don't want to discuss it" instead of trying to awkwardly wave stuff away. Make it explicit.
posted by windykites at 8:23 AM on January 22, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm so sorry about your loss! It's totally understandable that you are feeling this way and that the loss is on your mind so much. You've experienced trauma and I'd consider a trauma-focused therapy such as EMDR. Does your current therapist offer this? If not, could they refer you to someone who does? EMDR, when effective, resets your brain and body; chances are you'd only need a few sessions, and then could return to your current talk therapy. It's not for everyone but is something to consider. In the meantime, please give yourself a break and allow yourself to feel how you're feeling, to talk about it as much as needed, and surround yourself with people or things or pets that make you feel loved and safe. You deserve it!
posted by smorgasbord at 8:25 AM on January 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

What you're describing also sounds like grief, so investigating grieving resources may also be helpful.
posted by Mogur at 8:29 AM on January 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

Please talk to your therapist about exercises you can be doing. Therapy shouldn't be "the one hour a week I'm allowed a feeling", it should be a coaching session for skills to be actively practicing in between sessions.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:42 AM on January 22, 2019 [12 favorites]

You have been through a trauma and are experiencing grief. It’s okay to have feelings about it and talk about it. I’m glad you are in therapy and sorry for your loss.

What about a support group online or in-person, for pregnancy loss? Members would be especially understanding of your emotions and feelings about this, I would hope. You are moving on with your life! A year is not really a long time when it comes to traumas like this.
posted by 41swans at 8:51 AM on January 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe if you talk to people who respect your boundaries when you set them, you won't find yourself talking about things you don't want to talk about.

No offense to windykites whatsoever, but I'd like to offer your date a little more grace here. People can tell when somebody appears "off," and concern that they have offended or upset you is generally kind and well intention-ed on their part, even if they do sometimes push too far.

From my own experience in living in the past...really only the years of hard work in therapy helped me to move beyond past shitty experiences. Writing about them on Metafilter helped, actually, too. I still struggle with some shame around people that I dumped on about said shitty history, but all you can really do is not create more not-very-close relationships burdened with the emotional baggage of your past experiences.

Rather, I would strongly encourage leaning hard on those close in your life (your wonderful parents, maybe? close friends?) to process the tougher parts of your story in trusted ways. Those people can and should help you own what you went through as a very OK part of your story so that you can stop picking at that scab with everyone else who don't need to be as invested in it as your close support.

Good on you for asking this! It shows you're a lot further down the path than many. Keep truckin.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:55 AM on January 22, 2019 [10 favorites]

Yeah, I too wanted to say that a year is not very long, be gentle with yourself.

I have also found journaling a really good way to both understand how I feel about something and to get through processing it in a way that's totally safe. And your journal is never bored hearing you talk through it for the 37th time, and is always there. If writing isn't your jam, you could even do voice recordings, or talk to an inanimate object like a stuffed animal or a potted plant.

I'm really sorry for your loss. <3
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:56 AM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

You're asking how to stop bringing it up, but it's way more complicated than that. In the example you listed, your first choice was "this isn't what I want the 23andme conversation to be about" but even not talking about it, there was a lot of internal turmoil that got you visibly upset, and the next step in the conversation was about why you were upset, so voila you're talking about it despite intending not to.

It sucks, it only takes one yes but saying no has to be done at every step. In this case it all went south when someone persistently asked what was bothering you. So prepare how you want to respond to that. Instead of saying "it's nothing" (obvious lie) or "I don't want to talk about it" (canonical deflection that often is, and sometimes should be, pushed past), think of something more accurate. "It just reminded me of something else, barely even related [to what you asked]. Thanks for being concerned, you're right that I'm upset - but for now I'll be happiest if we move on. Can you do me a huge favor and tell me a story about your [dog, car, job, dinner]?" You're not telling the person it's none of their business, you're not telling them they're wrong about you being upset, and you're suggesting something they can do to help. People want to help, and it's natural to think that asking what's wrong is going to help you feel better, but in this case they're helping by changing the subject; so just tell them what you need.
posted by aimedwander at 9:20 AM on January 22, 2019 [33 favorites]

You lost a baby only a year ago. Different women take this kind of loss differently, but you are absolutely allowed to grieve as one losing a child. Have you been to any miscarriage support groups/forums? They may have specific practical suggestions as to how best manage the grief--because you certainly can't will it away.
posted by praemunire at 9:31 AM on January 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

Your difficult feelings are totally justified and when someone pushes you to talk it's hard not to. When I've had trauma I didn't want to talk about I had a few scripts ready to go. Ending each "no" with "thank you" can help (some) people back off better.

"You seem upset, what's wrong?" (caring check in)
"Oh. I had something really hard happen to me that messed me up for a while, and this convo reminded me of it. It's not something I can really talk about though, but I appreciate your concern."

"Wanna talk about it?" (sweet offer)
"I'm working on it in therapy. Talking about it socially doesn't help. But thank you for offering."

"Well if you ever want to talk I'm here." (boundary respected appropriately)
"I really appreciate that, and thanks for not pressing me."

"You can trust me" (getting pushy)
"It's not about trust at all. It's about me managing my emotional life in a way that's healthy for me."

"If you don't talk to me how can we build a relationship" (asshole manipulative boundary pushing)
"In a relationship it's also really important to respect boundaries. If I choose not to talk about something from my personal life on a given day, that's a boundary that deserves respect. I didn't say I'd never talk about it. But I'm allowed to choose the timing and that shouldn't be an issue."
(break up or minimize contact with anyone who gets this pushy by the way)

Something really difficult happened to you- in fact there were many layers of trauma. It's totally normal for it to be top of mind and have many recall triggers. People should respect your boundaries around talking about it, and if they don't, that's actually on them, not on you.

I wish you healing!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:28 AM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

It may be more effective to modify pseudostrabismus's script above to be just a bit more specific, like: "this conversation reminded me of something regarding my miscarriage. I don't want to talk about it, I just needed a moment to feel sad and now I'd like to move on."

"That reminds me of a a hard thing that I don't want to identify, but I DO want to keep talking with you" makes it a little awkward to switch gears without fear of putting your foot right back in it, it helps to have a vague inkling of what subject you may have triggered.
posted by desuetude at 11:58 AM on January 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Write it out, over and over. Write the story, delete. Write it again. Continue doing this until you are done, day after day if necessary. Eventually you'll get it sorted out in your brain and be able to let it go.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:42 PM on January 24, 2019

Here is a thing I did a while ago, and have been considering going again - I cut off all my hair (like down to 1.5 inches).

Not saying this would help everyone, but for me it did. I saw that hair in the plait that the hairdresser cut off before neatening the rest up, and it looked like all the stories which had grown out of my head the past few years. The most recent inches covered the trauma which had happened a few months earlier. I cut them off, and it felt like starting afresh. Also, cutting my hair so short gave me a huge confidence boost I wasn't expecting!

Not for everyone, but I thought I'd mention it :)
posted by greenish at 10:35 AM on January 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

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