Have you ever thought a thought and thought...
"wow! this is a really good thought."
only to find out that it is such a good thought that you have thought it more than once before?
Like sometimes I am a genius and I remember that we need bbq sauce. So I buy some. Then the next time I go to the store I pass the bbq sauce isle. And I think...wow, I think we need some bbq sauce...so I buy some.
(once I got 4 bottles stashed away before the family started mocking me)
When my grandmother died I remember the family laughing and shaking their heads in disbelief over the fact that grandma had like34 packages of tp stored away in various closets around her house. They said it was probably a result of her going through the depression and living without. I'm not buying it.
She just forgot. Knew that she needed tp and kept sticking it away. Oblivious.
Sometimes we repeat ourselves.
Once I found a box with some old journals in it. I found this scrap piece of paper where I had jotted down an idea for some great journal entry...a new thought...a lightbulb moment....then deeper into the journals...like years earlier....I found an almost identical entry. A little note scribbled on the side of a margin.
Sometimes I repeat myself.
Have you ever said something to someone and they have to tell you that you told them the same thing yesterday? And the day before?
I hate it when that happens.
How is the best way to handle such situations?
If you are the "repeat offender"...what do you do?
Mostly, you just go "oh" and feel stupid and awkward. Right?
Is there a time that you can think of where you felt good about hearing...
"yeah you told me that already".?
Makes you feel dumb, huh?
Ok you don't have to admit it if you don't want to.
It makes me feel dumb.
If you know me you know that I hate to feel dumb.
Ignorant...fine. I can say idk. No problem.
But if I feel stupid...wellll...I tend to close up like a tickled clam.
This is what happens when I hear someone say the dreaded words,
"you already told me that."
They actually don't even have to say the words. I can see it in their eyes. They look down and away. Maybe for only a second but I know. I see.
"have I told you this before?"
I dread the answer.
Now I am going to tell you something really opinionated. (you are shocked, I know)
In my opinion, it takes a really strong and loving person...a true friend...a pal...to look you in the eyes and lie to you.
"what? No! go ahead."
This is what I am looking for.
I need friends that will let me ramble on.
If I get to the end of the story and I sense that maybe this was a replay I might say that I am sorry if I have repeated myself.
If you lie to me and pretend that this is the first time you have heard this story about my child, or my great (ancient) sports play, or my daily personal brilliance...
I will love you.
You will go up a notch in my list of wonderful people.
I will get all warm and fuzzy. I might even tear up a little bit.
It will make me feel good.
I think that it is respectful and good and right.
I will do the same for you.
What happens if it is not a good story?
What if it is a dreadfully boring story?
What if it is gossip? Or heresy? Or worst of all...a story from the local news. ACK!
Sorry, I can't take it.
I have been known to stop you in your tracks. Well, maybe not you...but those like you.
You know who you are.
I used to have to do this with my mother. I love my mother.
I lied to her many many many o' time as she repeated stories to me.
Long stories? Boring stories? Yep...lied through those too.
I could look her straight in the face and absolutely convince her that I had never heard that story before.
(well, ok, she couldn't see very well)
But I really could, and did, encourage her to go on with the stories.
Unless it was a story about how people wait in grocery store bathrooms to kidnap teenagers and drag them to Disneyland to be slave labor costumed characters. She heard it on the news. She wanted me to be informed.
There is a reason I don't watch the news!
Lalalalala...I don't want to hear about it.
So I might gently say..."oh right, I remember you telling me this story."
Or, if feeling cranky, I might say..."yeah mom, you told me that yesterday."
Or if that didn't work...and the kidnapping descriptions are getting particularly grim...I might even have to say..."mom. seriously. you told me this already and it creeps me out...can we change the subject?"
She's mom.She took it like a trooper. Sometimes she would wait an entire day before she tried to tell me the same story again.
I believe, to the very bottom of my heart, that listening to one another is one of our most valuable friendship tools.
Our stories are important to us. They are us. When we are talking to one another we use our words to give, or at least reveal, pieces of our heart.
It is never fun to be shut down when opening up a piece of your heart.
When it happens to me it makes me feel...more than dumb...it makes me feel... rejected.
Strong word ain't it?
Maybe I am oversensitive...scratch that...I know I am oversensitive.
But I do not think I am alone in this.
When you say "yes, you already told me that" you are essentially saying "I don't want to hear you. You are bothering me."
Think about it.
It is not very respectful.
If you are a kid and you say something like that to your parents you had better duck.
If you are a working person and you say that to your boss you might want to think about googling the location of the nearest unemployment office.
Why do we get to say it to our loved ones?
Can I clarify here...I am not talking about someone nagging you and you drawing some boundaries.
I am talking about stories. Events. life.
I hope you know what I mean.
Respect my stories as a deeper part of me. I have shared with you. Then I have loved you enough to want to share that part of me again. Feel honored.
If, in the interest of honesty, you feel that you absolutely must tell me that I am repeating myself....I mean like I am in the middle of the story and all laughing or crying or whatever and I stop and say..."oh dear, have I told you this before?"
You, in all honestly, wisdom, grace, and mercy are allowed (with the utmost of respect and maybe a light touch on my hand) to look me in the eyes and say....
"well, yes. You have told me this before. But I would love to hear it again."
Then do it again tomorrow.