III. People Who Talk Too Much

And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. ~ James 3:6-8

Ed’s note: Interesting verse considering Damon means “to tame.” Well, it’s time to put that definition to work on my tongue.

To Whom It May Concern:

This may concern you. Actually, I’m certain that it does.

I have to turn my fingers back at myself for this finger-pointing, letter-writing thing to work. This is definitely one of those “throwing stones at my own glass house” moments. Hopefully, you don’t judge me by what follows.

In recent weeks, I’ve taken a few necessary blows from some people I respect and a few others I consider to be my closest friends. The body punches all came in response to me mixing in a few jabs with a haymaker or two of my own over time. The words I’ve thrown have done damage and knocked a few people down.

But now it’s chin-check time for myself: I talk too much. So much that one of my good friends recently told me “that’s part of who you are.” Another friend said that I need to better separate my professional and personal lives. See, even that friend knows that a journalist with more than five years in the game is probably nosier than Owen Wilson.

But those quoted words in the previous graph, my actions and my friends’ humbling reactions rightfully left my face watered.

I choose not to claim the title best associated with talking too much because it’s not me. It’s something I’ve done in the past. But I’ve allowed it to rear its face again via careless chatter boxing. See, I’ve been tangled in some webs I don’t belong anywhere near because I’ve passed — harmlessly or not — some information along through channels via a friend or said something in jest that I had no business saying.

Most often I just shrug my shoulders because everybody talks. We all do. There’s many a time I say something in confidence to someone and it comes back to me or someone starts a false rumor about me. I almost never fret, especially when someone tells my business to their significant other. That’s life. Besides, a secret is something you share with no one. You can only trust people to be human — and err.

Well, in some people’s eyes, I’m that flawed person who talks too much. That shakes me at my core because I’m a better person than that, a better friend. If you know me well — or have been reading this blog — you know I have good intentions. But I’m nowhere near flawless in the execution of my intent.

That’s not good and must change because I strive for perfection, understanding that I will fall short. I’ve beaten myself up — not like Ike, though — and been hammered by the words and actions of others. I’ve taken some serious and sincere reality shots laced with humility from some of my closest friends.

Now, I know what needs to be done. It’s going to take work and time. And I know writing this letter won’t solve the problem. What will? Righting the issue itself. I’m off to a good start. I’ve decided to be extremely cautious about what I say about people outside of my immediate circle of friends and to not talk negatively about people I genuinely care about, those I know or any associates.

There’s nothing to be gained except a false build up similar to splurging on an unaffordable shopping spree. A fake sense of self and overpriced clothing items don’t replace failed friends.

Anyway, here are my only bits of advice for anyone who reads this and goes through similar circumstances:

1) Know that people will talk about you, around you, over you, to you, through you and under you — maliciously or not. The best reaction is a non-reaction. Be still and slow to anger.

2) Be careful who you talk to. Know that you can’t trust people to hold your water. They’ll drink it, and upchuck it at someone else because it’s not theirs.

3) When you royally screw over — with or without intent — good friends, and they choose to look you dead in the eye, force you to own up to your wrongs and still tell you that they love you … stop screwing them over. You can’t and won’t find better friends. If they respond with silence, that usually means it’s over.

I’m just thankful for my real friends. Without their forgiveness and brutal honesty, I’d likely be at Macy’s trying to put useless Band-Aids on my wounds.

I know I’m a good person, but I’m that beat up right now. Don’t worry, though. I’ll be fine with time.

Humbled,

Damon

P.S. “Knowing my condition is the reason I must change,” so “I Get Out.” ~ L. Hill

PS2. “I’d rather die enormous than live dormant,” but “Can I Live?” ~ S. Carter

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31 responses to “III. People Who Talk Too Much

  1. the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. it is great that your true friends are able to love whilst scolding you. isn’t this the reason we have friends..people to chin-check you when you’re being less than the person you should be.

    and while those macy’s branded bandaids will help the economy, you’ve already bought what you needed to – a mirror.

    be encouraged! this is just a rest stop on your journey to greatness. 🙂

  2. Man oh man have I been guilty of opening my mouth when I shouldn’t. Though I feel like more often than not it’s saying my own thoughts to the wrong person about them…

    In any case, I like that a) you have friends who will keep it real and b) you can take what they say to heart and make necessary changes. I wish more of my friends were like that.

  3. Are you me? This is something I’ve also struggled with. I get some sick pleasure out of sharing “gossip”. I’ve been trying really hard to tone it down, particularly at work where it seems that people walk around with sharp knives ready to stab you in the back.

    It’s a process and we both will just have to take one step (or secret) at a time.

    • @tam: for the most part, I just don’t want to know stuff anymore. I’ve been this way for a while. I try to displace a lot of what I hear.

  4. natural nubian

    prvb (12:1)–to learn you must love discipline. it is stupid to hate correction.

    we all fall short damon. definitely remain true to yourself and continue to grow through self-examination such as this. and be grateful you’ve been blessed with friends that know you can take the criticism.
    that’s what i love about your blog, your transparency & authenticity, even when it’s a letter that doesn’t make us laugh. writing is indeed the lost form of self-therapy.

  5. “…But I’m nowhere near flawless in the execution of my intent.”

    i know this feeling, this reality. it never seems to go away. so TRUST, you’re not the only one with that particular problem (PIE = proper intent execution).

    as for your dilemma… i’d suggest relentless (yes, relentless) prayer for increased wisdom. hopefully the pain of facing your flaws is enough, to learn and grow (i’m sure it is), so don’t put any more pressure on yourself. see, the great thing about your name is that it doesn’t mean “tamed yesterday” or “to tame one time”. to tame, to me, means more than once, over and over again.

    thank God for His grace, that carries us (and our mouths and our hearts) through.

    • @tameka: Thanks for the advice. I definitely need to spend more time conversing with the Maker, period.

      And the PIE just makes me SMH from time to time. I think it’s one of those things that can be hard to grasp, even concerning the little things.

  6. That’s a great letter Damon. Thanks for sharing a little piece of yourself and good luck with the vice grip on the lips!!!!

  7. I’ve been in your shoes RE: “My big mouth” a time or two. Like you I have beat myself up for it, but I learned a valuable lesson and became a better person for it.

    I’ll share stuff with my wife if I have to get it off my chest, but she has my absolute trust and I know anything I say to her stays with her. I also stay out of my co-workers business. I refuse to get caught up in office politics and general back stabbing.

    Props.

    • @travis: office politics and GP backstabbing, I’m not fans of, either. But it’s hard to stay out of them at times because they can directly affect you and your life.

      If one can do it, more power. But I’m inclined to refuse to send e-mails that butcher the English language (Letter No. 4: Exclamation Mark Misuse) laced with false enthusiasm all day.

      I’ve had a boss like that, and let’s just say he was fake … I’m real … and we didn’t get along too well. smh.

  8. Great letter…one that most, if not all, can relate too.

    When I was younger I talked so much I was jokingly called “Little Miss Chatterbox” (as well as Little Miss Sunshine, but I digress) from the Little Miss & Mr. Men book series. 🙂 I talked a LOT but most of it was optimistic & uplifting so people didn’t seem to mind too much except that it did drive them crazy from time to time. I just enjoyed conversation. The older I get, the more I pull back & became more reserved. I still enjoy great conversation (even debates) but it isn’t useless chatter & I know the difference now of when to and not to talk. No big event triggered this change, it just happened naturally over time. It definitely requires forethought and discipline & although I’m better at it, I’m not convinced that I’ve mastered it.

    You’re right that there is power in the tongue. It can build up or cut down. As was mentioned before, it’s great that you have such great friends & that you can hear them, listen & take heed. Introspection is priceless & the fact that you’re willing to make a change goes a long way. I agree with @natural nubian that writing is a great way to express yourself & great self-therapy.

    I also agree with @Travis that there’s nothing like having that one confidante in whom you can confide about anything & everything at anytime and KNOW it won’t go beyond the two of you. For me, that is my husband. I have shared things with him that I know I would never share with anyone else.

    • @shawnta: Funny thing is, I normally don’t talk that much these days because I only engage the same six or seven people in conversation …

      Just had an old problem rear its ugly head again, and I put my foot in my mouth a few times in the process.

  9. I’ve learned that people will talk as long as they have lips. I’m learning to be a great listener rather than fall into mindless conversation about things that don’t concern me. It is not easy, but I’m getting better. This was a great letter, and you did the right thing off top – admitting u have a problem.

    God knows your intentions, so he knows what you’re all about.

    • “I’ve learned that people will talk as long as they have lips.”

      this is the truth. … and I’m a good listener, which can get you into trouble if you’re hearing the wrong things AND regurgitating them.

      Through journalism, I’ve learned how to engage people in conversation — no matter who it is. And feel as though I know the secret to getting people to open up and get comfortable …

      It’s just a point of me just lifting them up to other people, and not being negative. And in some regards — trust I know which ones — just not mentioning anything at all.

  10. Meant to add…great song choices. “Can I Live”…classic & you already know that I want Lauryn to come back. I miss her music.

  11. Dang D., you suck. (j/k) Seriously, I already told you this…don’t have a smack fest with yourself. You just need to drop the “friends” that have holes in their mouths. Real talk, people who care about you don’t want to get you in trouble…they have enough care to respect and protect your words.

    • @moni: Thank you Life Coach No. 3. lol. Seriously, thanks for coaching me through the framework of this letter… And your third sentence is the truth …

  12. The Comeback Girl

    “I’d likely be at Macy’s trying to put useless Band-Aids on my wounds.”

    HUH????

    i dont get that..anywhoo..??? remind me never to tell you a secret.

    I understand people talk. But thats one of my friends’ litmus tests…i need to know that you can keep secrets or at least stuff that i consider private.

    • @comeback: do you not know what Macy’s is? A major department store … I said something toward the end of the letter about shopping as a form of therapy …

      I’m good at keeping secrets. I’m just not good with rumor and mindless chatter …

  13. Real talk hon, I’ve been there and I know what you are going through. It will be ok, people will forgive you and in time the TRUE wrongdoers with malicious intent will get what’s coming to them and be forced to admit their fowl nature to you. Even if it’s like 2 or 3 or 10 years from now, the truth always comes to the light and your real friends will stick by you and forgive you. If they don’t forgive you then they can’t expect to be forgiven by the Big Man upstairs…

    • @jlbd: thanks fam. The forgiveness part is taken care of, and like I’ve said, I’m humbled. It now just a point of proving my respect and friendship thru my actions.

      And for the other riffraff, there’s a Jay line I’m thinking about: “So I’m praying that it spills outside of the the booth/That’s when y’all dudes outside of your truth/outside of your league/that’s not what you do …”

      • You’ll be good. And believe me, the humbling experience will mellow you out. You’ll find out who your real friends are and your circle of friends will get smaller and smaller. Everyone is not your friend and everyone can’t be trusted, it’s just life and we all go through it learning lesson after lesson. I’ve gotten to the point where there are certain people that I only tell stuff to if I don’t care about it getting back to me or the person we are discussing. The true secrets and confidential information will likely be told to no other person if you are smart 🙂

  14. Funny how I’ve run into a problem like this before with one former friend. And I’m the stereotypical quiet person who’s a great listener. Also, she had a thing with not wanting anyone to know ANY of her business, period…and I went and wrote a blog about her that definitely helped to end our “friendship”.

    What point was I trying to make again?

    Oh yeah, we’ve all run into this a time or two, but the fact that you recognize your problem and have people around you who will support you no matter what will help.

  15. I already lost interest…

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