HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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“Family”

For me, family has always been such a mixed bag. Family is so chock full of trauma, deceit, and bad memories that it’s hard for me to take solace in such a word. I’ve had people always come at me with, “Well, blood is thicker than water, so you gotta stand by your family no matter what.” I can’t get with that, my response has always been, “You’d think a bit differently if you went through all the shit my family put me through.”

Being the youngest child, I was always the one who got picked on. I was the punching bag of the family. I was the one who could be blamed for any wrongdoing. I was every so often a bad kid who would lie from time to time, so because of that anytime somebody else did something, I was blamed and I was guilty until proven innocent. Recently, because of some life circumstances and things going on around me, I’m being made to relive some of the trauma I went through and process things I didn’t even realize until now were trauma and abuse. I just always assumed that all people went through these sorts of things and so there was no point in ever talking about it, it was just so quotidian.

Because of all this, I am much closer to friends than I am family. I find it hard to truly honestly get close to people, but when I do it’s something that’s very strong and meaningful. I cannot do that with my family. They’ve never fostered an environment where that was a safe thing to do. Even now I’m stuck with some of the aftereffects of the things they did. Things are beginning to change, I’ve started opening up to my mother more and she’s been really good about it, but all in all, blood is not always thicker than water, and that’s okay.


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Dating Is Tough

Dating is something that’s always kind of tricky to traverse, no matter how much of a loser or Casanova one is. I’ve been dating this one girl who has had some trauma a few years ago which would prevent our relationship from being a “normal” as other peoples’. Because of this, she and I didn’t even kiss until our fourth date, something I am very much unaccustomed to since most other people my age are having sex by around the third date. She had explained things to me somewhat, but it didn’t make things any less difficult since I did like her and have feelings for her.

For our third, we went to see a movie and it was our first time holding hands as well. She had told me before that she didn’t want me to think that she didn’t like me because she very much did, but at times I found her as coming off as somewhat cold and would tell myself “Just let go of her hand Ani, you’re embarrassing yourself, she doesn’t give a shit about you.” She was verbally telling me that she liked me a lot, but her actions were telling me that she wasn’t interested in me. She’s the only person I’ve found luck dating recently, so it makes me more willing to be patient, but it doesn’t make things any less difficult since I’m used to more physical affection, not even necessarily sex, just more physical affection. On our most recent date, a similar thing was happening, we were looking into each other’s eyes and smiling at each other, speaking softly, delicately, breathily, all nonverbal signs of higher intimacy. As it seemed to become more clear we would kiss, she turned away and started crying out of nowhere, apparently she’d had a massive flood of anxiety kicking in and she felt terrible about it because she very much wanted to kiss me but her past trauma was preventing her from doing so. Eventually, at the end of our date, we were able to and that very much shelved a lot of worries for me, but those initial times, it’s really disconcerting when the words and actions of a potential romantic partner don’t line up.


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Maybe Should’ve Met In Person

Earlier this year, I was in a situation with a sort-of friend where he had been depressed (as had I) and we sort of leaned on each other for support. Already off to a bit of a bad start, two mentally unwell people trying to gain support from each other. When we’d meet in person, we wouldn’t typically talk too much about what had been going on, that was something we reserved for when we were texting. There’s a whole slew of problems with that, and they began to start culminating. One time about a month ago, he had been continually texting me about how he was upset about all these different things, I offered to not talk to him about certain things if that’d make him feel better, he just continued going on and on and we went back and forth until eventually out of nowhere he hits me with some strong sass and backhanded comments, completely out of nowhere. I decided to just leave him alone until he was ready to apologize for acting like a dick, he didn’t for a while, eventually three weeks later (of us barely talking) he messages me back with more backhanded comments about how I obviously don’t care about him enough to even talk to him. Since I was getting somewhat heated about it, I decided to continue having this discussion through the medium of technology as opposed to saying “Hey, look, maybe we should meet in person and talk about this?” The back and forth continued of kind of pointing fingers at each other, trying to find out who was in the wrong, until it turned out that he had misinterpreted my words of encouragement as words of condescension. This is not entirely my fault, as he could have just as easily asked for clarification instead of later blaming all of his actions on me and making it seem as if I must have responsibility for what he did, but if anything, it was a fair learning experience.


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英語

As somebody who is a native speaker of English, I really don’t feel a strong cultural connection to others who speak English. I think the reasoning behind that is because English is so widespread that there isn’t a whole lot that connects us anymore. If I was a speaker of, say, Pirahã and I found somebody else who also spoke it, I probably would feel a much deeper connection to them since that language is incredibly uncommon. I will say that to some extent there are certain kinds of humor that only make sense in English, for example, so there’s a kind of connection there. It’s very small though, since I know that most people wouldn’t notice those kinds of things. An example could be that certain kinds of speech patterns, like sarcasm, don’t actually exist in other languages, like Japanese for example.

English can really be a strong tool to distance yourself from other people. English, as widespread as it is, can be so intimidating because of its perceived difficulty. Therefore, if somebody is learning English as a second language, they might be more afraid to try speaking with a native speaker than, say, a native English speaker learning French. In a not-so-similar vein, there are certain kinds of concepts other languages have words for that English doesn’t. Not only does English lack a word for this kind of thing, sometimes, but English can even lack the concept itself. In this vein, since I’m much too old now, there are certain things about other cultures I will never be able to comprehend in any measure simply because I both lack the words and the ability to fully understand the concept. In conclusion, the mere fact that I speak English does not limit and separate me from others, but the fact that I was raised in the American, monolingual mindset for so long has impaired my ability to take in foreign concepts of other cultures.


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💅🏻💝😍😘😊 😒

When it comes to the emojis I often use, I find that at certain times they say different things about me. For example, as shown in the title, the middle 4 are often used because I’m a very affectionate and loving person. I like to send the heart with a bow on it as opposed to just the normal heart because it shows that the person I’m talking to is a gift. It’s cheesy, of course, but I like it. I use the heart eye one so much simply because I use it to uplift my friends, whenever they post a selfie I’ll often comment something along the lines of “daaaaammmmn 😍 who is she?? 👀💯”. I often prefer to use the blushing emojis over regular smiley faces because those can be interpreted as a symbol of my affection. At the same time, I also very often use emojis like the first and last to convey feelings of sassiness, sarcasm, and cynicism which are very pervasive in my day to day life. Often times they’re used in a joking or complaining manner, like if my friend compliments my appearance or something I can hit them back with a “bitch I know 💅🏻” or if, say, I forgot an umbrella when it’s raining I could say “it’s pouring outside and my dumb ass forgot an umbrella smh 😒”. Sometimes I can even (shortly) communicate entirely in emoji, like if a date went well I could text my friend “🍆✌🏻💣” and she would understand what I meant.

Were I to suddenly lose emojis, however, I don’t think I would be all that much at a loss. Granted, I think they’re really fun and certainly do help me convey points more clearly, but I generally write with great care in my choice of words, I’m more than happy texting with “proper” (read: not colloquial) punctuation and spelling and the like, so that typically also very much helps getting my point across. All in all, emojis are fun and helpful, but by no means a necessity for me.

 


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Transsexual

Transsexual, transgender, whichever one you choose to use, this is a word which has marred me for a while. It’s this sort of perpetual prefix I have, my main identifier, the thing that never escapes me. I won’t be “Ani the Linguist”, “Ani the Writer”, I will inevitably be relegated to “Ani the Transsexual” or “Ani the Trans Woman” no matter what I do. In some circles, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In my work with other LGBT+ people, this is fine, it brings about a sense of belonging, of understanding. In most all other circles, however, it does quite the opposite, separating me from others. I was at a little kickback a week or two ago, and I found myself dead silent while everybody around me was talking about their experiences on Tinder and the like when I thought to myself, “I’m really different from these people and no matter how much I wish it was so, I’m never going to be like these people.” In that whole sphere there are so many extra steps I have to do that others don’t. I have to essentially apologize for the thing I am, I have to deal with fetishists and chasers and trolls, I have to put up with invasive and personal questions about my body and genitalia, I have to prove my womanhood and femininity. It gets really very tiring, to be perfectly honest. But in confessing my trans status (which I always do, as not doing so has led to many of my sisters being murdered in cold blood after some person saw her as an abomination and decided to take matters into their own hands) I have to be partially open about it so that I’m not viewed as hiding it so as to “fool” people, but I can’t talk so much about it so as to be viewed as one of those “angry trannies.” Usually, this culminates in me viewing myself at times as less than, or not as deserving of good things as other people. This word being stuck on me like a tumor makes me see myself as separate from others, as a misplaced cog, as a burden.

Overall, though this is a large part of who I am, I try not to let it define me. Emphasis on the word “try”, because no matter how much I do try, I can’t easily escape that as a word that will be used forever to identify and define me.