In the not so distance past, I received a phone call that begun with the caller asking me, ” Do you know what happened to me today?” Innocently, I replied, “No.” How could I guess, really? The caller then reported, “I shit my pants!” The person on the other end of the call appeared to be just as surprised about this news as I was as I held the phone to my ear. My first thought, if this had happened to me (and I was alone) this incident would have been taken to my grave unreported. However, it felt surprisingly consequential to be the “chosen one” bestowed with this terribly sensitive information.
I feel incidents like these should also have a greeting card option. The cards could highlight various events. An example of one such card could read something like this on the cover, ” I had a sneezing fit the other day and peed my pants.” On the inside, “You are the first and only person I have told. Welcome to my inner circle. This is a big achievement! In a few days you will receive a second card with a key to my house and instructions to cull all my belongings I don’t want my daughter to ever see or find, in case I meet an early demise. Congratulations!”
These self disclosures offered up voluntarily might be awkward, but they require little prep, effort and the response can be minimal. Having a difficult conversation is something I’m often paid to do and I have been having them for the past 20 years. Sometimes before 9 am, I am composing emails that contains the word anal. I have sat down with professionals to discuss the value of adding a picture as an exhibit to my work. The picture was of a penis. I did not want to show this expert the picture, because it already burned a pretty distinctive image in my brain and I wanted to protect this person and others who would view my work. We pondered this picture. We discussed how remarkable this member looked in the photo and I was asked questions about how it looked and if there was anything about it that made it remarkable. There wasn’t. I determined if there was a hypothetical line up of sorts there would be no disguising marking or characteristics that would link this particular penis back to its owner. In the end, this picture was not included. It was a win I thought for not causing any more harm to others, this picture, but the damage was already done, at least to my eyes and brain.
I thought my ability to have a awkward discussion could be my super power. However, I do understand I do much better with these conversations when I am not emotionally attached to the person on the other end. In spite of emotional connection, I still believe I have been able to present myself in a calm, non-judgmental and non-reactive manner throughout these discussions, at least on the outside. One the inside, I’m certain my organs do a full dry heave of raw emotions hidden somehow between slow breathing and thoughts of retreating to my happy place.
Presently, I have been engaged in an ongoing awkward discussions with my daughter. This is lead me to go from her being a big fan of mine to answering me with one word answers. I am used to being the most unpopular person in the room when it comes to my career, but this is a extremely uneasy feeling with it comes to my daughter. Regardless, I will continue my efforts because somethings are too important not to discuss. However, if I could pick between the discussion I had about the value of a penis picture over these awkward conversations with my daughter. I would pick long deliberations over peckers every time.