Monday, February 22, 2010

Lucy I Can ‘Splain

I’m finding that one benefit of blogging is that I can see my character defects in black and white. It’s kind of an awareness accelerator.

For example, I posted recently an explanation of a previous post. People had questions. They seemed reasonable. I hesitated. Would answering be trying to justify my behavior?

After I posted, I realized what it was that was bothering me. Part of my pathology is the desire to explain everything I do.

I had almost forgotten that. My sponsor and I hadn’t discussed it since I felt I owed my ex-husband an explanation when he called and said “we need to hire a lawyer” for our daughter and I had to tell him I wasn’t going to contribute this time.

“No is a complete sentence,” my sponsor had said.

But I felt I owed him an explanation. We had always done this together. Whenever I asked him for something, there was never any question. I couldn’t just say no.

My need to explain is closely related to my need to say things over and over. I think you just didn’t hear me. If I repeat myself, eventually you will hear me and do what I want you to do. Attend that NA meeting. Clean the kitchen. Whatever. It's all about trying to control.

Hence the “say it once, then drop it” rule.

And if you acknowledge that you did hear me and still don’t do what I want you to do, then I think I needed to explain. Because what I want you to do seems so reasonable. I just need to explain it, then you'll understand.

And then you'll do it. Because I know best. Right? Right?

I still want to explain everything. The difference is that now it makes me uncomfortable when I do, even if I don’t always know why right away.

Did I just explain my need to explain? (sigh).


  1. explaining the need to explain, that sounds familiar.
    I feel like my situation recently is that I "thought" I had said something once, or twice, or even three times over the years and was ignored.
    I had to say "I'm thinking about leaving you" in order to be heard. Those ears perked up.
    On a case by case basis, I think HOW we say things is important.

  2. hi kathy, i remember the post that i think you're talking about. personally, i appreciated your explanation because it showed your healthy thought process. i thought it was enlightening and a positive example of your growth.

    but i suppose the question that might be important here is what motivates us to explain, that may indicate when it makes us feel bad to do so. like if the questions people had about your post brought up feelings of defensiveness or feeling invalidated, and then you felt the need to explain yourself for that reason, then i coould see how that would result in you feeling bad.

    i can identify with feeling the need to explain things. i think it comes from the part of us which asks us why and seeks to understand ourselves. which i think is a good thing. i think sometimes explaining things, even just to our self, can help us feel better. help us understand what we were thinking that led us to behave or feel the way we did. it can be empowering, in my experience.

    but then asking ourselves why can get out of hand and we can end up feeling self-doubting and questioning everything we do until we feel like we don't know which way is up. instead of trusting ourselves.

    and then if we're explaining to try to make other people feel better, then that is where it can be problematic, right?

    i'm still learning here.

    i appreciate you writing this as i feel like i have the same tendency but i'd never thought of what that means or how it might not always be beneficial.

    but definitely, i don't think you need to explain yourself ever if you don't want to. if people ask you questions that you don't want to or don't feel the need to answer, questions that are more about themselves than you, you certainly don't have to explain yourself. this blog is your space :)

  3. Funny isn't it how we need to explain ourselves. I find sometimes that I brace myself when I am going to tell hubby something that I want. And then I say what it is and start right in with a lengthy explanation. I tell myself that the explanation is necessary so he will know it isn't something is wrong with him, just that I would like him to do thus and so a little differently. Getting to the place that we are very very honest with ourselves is quite a journey, isn't it? And then speaking that honesty to another human being is a whole different trip. This is a joy to be discussing real issues with you and I appreciate your bringing this up in your post. Hugs.

  4. Me too. Count me on that.. I always felt I had to explain and explain and explain. Now I say NO.. and maybe explain one time... but that is it. And some people I don't need to even explain the NO or why I did something.

    I think it was my Codie behavior. One time a friend said I did not have to convince him and explain why I broke up with someone .. I was allowed to do so. (it was my Codie feeling I had to explain and everyone should agreed with what I did). He did agree.. the relationship was not a good one and he was happy I did get out.. but I did not have to sound guilty and shame-based by explaining why I did so.. lol.

    He was right.

    You sound great. And you are right about how bloggin helps.

  5. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your great question. I hope I didn't "overexplain" it! :-D

    I, too, feel that if I just reword it, or repeat it enough, or use a different tone, then maybe the other person will "get" it. I do this especially if I am feeling nervous or insecure. Old habits die hard for me but I am aware today and kind to myself when I slip! Great post and good topic for a meeting.

    I look forward to reading you in the mornings now.


  6. I just wrote a post ...(very looooooong ) one on this post of yours.

    I think it is okay for me to ramble on and explain myself on my blog.. it is good practice to do it there... and lol, not in my so-called real world. (I hope that makes sense).

    I've been a CODIE since a little girl and Al-Anon and ACOA is helping me.. and I was told to keep a JOURNAL .. in Al-Anon. My blog is my place to explain; ramble; stream of unconsciousness.. and then I don't have to do it in my real world's interaction.

    It is about Control. It is also about needing to be understood. It is also with me I have no right to say NO as a child.. and had to live with no control or input; and put up with abuse. Saying NO makes me feel guilty which I know is logically not right.. I don't have to feel guilty. But I do so I keep explaining myself in hope of validation..but really the person that wants me to say YES is not going to validate my saying NO to their request(s). lol.

    I have to say I'm doing GREAT saying NO in my real world........but still need to ramble about every little thing I do or will do in my blog world.. lol.

    Thanks for this was exactly what I needed to read today..

  7. hahaha
    this had me laughing out loud - I totally get it. Yes, I do that explaining thing, too! What a great insight for me - no is a complete sentance. I'm going to say that with my affirmations all day... and that will be several times. My therapist has told me to say affirmations over and over - and for some reason that is hard. Apparently explaining things to MYSELF does not come naturally :-)

  8. wow. I can sooo relate to the need to explain over and over. I don't do it as much as I used to but I remember the frustation I felt everytime I did or do repeat and repeat and repeat. My issue was the need to be heard and acknowledged. And I love "no is a complete sentence." Take gentle care. Sarah

  9. No. I love that answer. This is a tricky area. For me I am really adamant about "not explaining". There are times, especially commitment based moments I feel I need to give an explanation, but I feel explanations are tiresome.

  10. Ms-Hen said to stop over,so I did I like your blog and now I am going to follow it.Just be advised that I do not comment on every posting.

  11. Ahhhh, you just freaked me out.... that is me exactly.... I need to explain everything (especially my "no's, especially now that I am learning how to even say "no") and I repeat repeat repeat. I need to explain everything and I repeat repeat repeat.
    Did I mention the repeating part? The explaining???
    I am recently working on both - progress - SOME. I have nothing more to add, but couldn't believe what you wrote.
    God bless.
    Love & huggs :)

  12. OMG! An epiphany. I just read this post...getting caught up... and I realized that I often repeat what I'm saying (so much so that my boss has told me "No need to repeat. I heard you the first time." I didn't realize why I was doing it; and you made it so clear for me. THANK YOU!

    I will keep working on it, and working on it will be easier now that I'm understanding it.