As stated in my first journal entry, I originally saw this course as a skill to add to my resume. After reading chapter one I realized the value my personal life would gain learning about nonverbal communication, so I went into week two all gung ho and ready to tackle it! I knew having this skill would put my life back on track by giving me the tools I needed to hide my screwed-up life. This would lead to new friendships and relationships where I could verbally open myself up to others. All I had to do was apply everything I learned in this course.
I was in a ‘fake it till I ake it’ working towards a ‘believe it till I be it’ when reality slammed into me. Instead of the glitter and rainbows I imagined, what I developed was a love/ hate relationship with nonverbal communication. As I placed myself under the microscope week after week, openly discussing my deepest feelings and fears in a therapeutic manner, I started to feel worse about myself. I found myself questioning the nonverbal cues l’d been presenting to others as well as doubting my abilities to decode nonverbal cues I received.
The lessons on decoding were the hardest for me as I was, and till am, working through my part in the destruction of my marriage. Through this course, realized I didn’t read or acknowledge my husband’s nonverbal cues the last nine months of our marriage. I thought he needed time and space to work through losing his mom, while he thought I wasn’t there for him. I thought after 28 years he knew I would always be there for him, while he thought I was selfish, cold and uncaring. We misread each other for months and by the time we addressed it verbally the damage was already done.
Looking back I see how the ‘missed cues’ lead to resentment between us, and yet while I ee it I can’t seem to get it to stop. Even today our interactions are a jumble of verbal and nonverbal cues that don’t support each other. Just recently I upgraded my cell phone with his knowledge and after he received the first bill since the upgrade he texted me asking why the bill was so high and asked “Is there something you need to tell me? ” Instantly I was mad. Verbally he’s asking a simple question, yet nonverbally he’s being condescending and a jerk.
I deduced this based off our long history together and knowing his tone of voice, facial expression, and mannerisms. When I responded, I informed him I won’t respond again if he can’t be nice. He then apologizes for the way I interpreted his text, which I didn’t respond to. This 3- text conversation shows our communication right now. All he sent me was a simple question, yet I gave meaning, tone, expression, etc. to the text based upon our history together. I placed the nonverbal element with his words and then got upset about it.
That’s not to say I was wrong because I think I was pretty close, yet without other nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expression, or body language how can I be ertain he wasn’t just asking a question. I’ve also been paying special attention to the nonverbal cues I’m revealing. I’m closing myself off even though I try to convince myself I’m not. Interactions with people induce a tug-of-war where areas of my body are fighting over which one gets the privilege to call me out as a liar and display the emotions I’m hiding from the world.
If I’m having a conversation with someone l’ll try to focus on keeping eye contact to show l’m interested, engaged, and open. Yet my body sends a different message by tensing up. ll clench my jaw and shoulders with my shoulder blades moving up and inward, like my body is trying to cocoon itself. Just recently I started experiencing panic/ anxiety attacks when around groups of people with symptoms such as labored breathing, racing heart, hand tingling and eventually a higher, shriller voice. And for the cheery on top my rosacea cheeks will light up like Rudolph’s nose!
No matter how put together I want to appear, my body keeps ratting me out through nonverbal cues with the most tattling happening while I’m trying to convince others l’m feeling better than I am. I figure eventually l’ll either get good at lying nonverbally, or l’ll start moving forward and I my body won’t have to lie any more. Another nonverbal area l’ve spent quite some time pondering is environment. I feel my new living environment is sending a stress inducing nonverbal cue to my family.
My family thinks I’m losing my mind, and no matter how many times I tell them l’m going to be fine I don’t think they believe me. While I’ve explained to them I moved here to heal away from all the memories, I can understand their misgiving since this is so out of character for me. On a whim, I decided to move out of our 2300sqft family home, leave my kids, grandbabies, parents and siblings to move into a camper 500 miles away where I’m at least 2 hours from anyone I know. As a person who hates change and hasn’t lived outside of Idaho, this is not normal for me.
My actions and new environment don’t scream “I’ll be fine”, instead the convey avoidance and running away. To reassure them I’ve been looking for other nonverbal cues I can send to show them I am working toward healing. I send them pictures here and there as well as post pictures on Facebook of things I’m doing so they can see l’m not over here wallowing in self- pity, l’ll video chat with them to show them I’m washing my hair and dishes, and I’m honest with how I’m feeling so they don’t think I’m trying to hide the pain.
Each of these little actions relays nonverbal messages that align with my verbal assurance that l’ll be ok; they show me being active, smiling, and moving forward in small baby steps. I’ve also examined my appearance and the nonverbal message it’s sending. If I were to take an educated guess l’d say my appearance is closing me off from others and hiding me way. Growing up in Idahome, I’m not used to this constant cold, wet weather so when I go out I’m bundle up which makes me feel invisible.
I get lost in the layers of jackets and sweatshirts, hats and scarves that it feels like the more bundled I am the less interaction I receive. I’ve wondered if the bulk of my clothing or the backpack I wear sends a message to stay away, or if it’s simply so cold that people don’t want to interact with each other. I also question the bagginess of my cloths and what message that sends. It could be anything; that I’m poor nd can’t afford fitting cloths, or that I’m sick and have lost a lot of weight.
Whatever nonverbal cue people read I doubt it’s the truth which is thanks to my divorce I managed to drop 20lbs before moving to the coast, then dropped another 15 pounds due to long contemplative walks on the beach. Either way what my appearance is conveying won’t be known until I meet local people and even then I’m not sure l’d get an honest answer if asked. While l’d love to throw all the newly gained introspection out the window and just be again, I swallowed the blue pill so that’s o longer an option – here we find the hate portion of the relationship.
Knowing the cues and knowing what I’m exposing makes me face my part in where my life is right now. Only I am the sole person responsible for being alone right now, and even though I deeply want to develop relationships with people in a nonromantic way, I’m not sure how to let go of my hurt so I can move forward. I know if I give it time everything will fall into place. I just must be patient, which isn’t my strong suit. The love part of nonverbal communication comes from observing other people and seeing their nonverbal cues.
I’ve studied couples as they walk together, and the physical distance between a couple and whether they’re touching sends nonverbal cues of intimacy and passion. I’ve observed young couples where the man was pulling the woman’s hand towards him while she continuously tried to pull away, and I’ve seen older couples where you couldn’t tell where one person begun and the other ended. Observing other people shows me what I want to exhibit; to the world, to new and old friends, and to a potential new partner. I just must give myself some time to get over my pain so I can radiate happiness again.