This week I have learned that I mind more about what others think than I want to. "Are you the sort of person who cares what others think?" is a question to which I like to answer "Not much" because it's usually asked of people struggling with decisions about what to do. I don't do a lot of that, and when I do, what others think is usually way down the list of considerations. I prefer to work out what I think is the right thing. However, it's become clear that I care what others think more than I realised. This is not something I like to admit, either, let alone publicly, but it's probably good for me to do so!
I don't care what people think about my appearance. I'd rather they weren't nasty about it but if they are, then they're probably not people I care for anyway. I'd rather the people I do care about think well of me, but acknowledge that I make decisions of which others may be critical and I take responsibility for that. No, those are not the sorts of things I'm talking about.
What I really mind about is people thinking something about me which is not true. It matters to me hugely that people do not misunderstand. This becomes a problem in a changing situation because most of us like to find out what the state of things is, so that we know. We like to get up today knowing what we learned yesterday, not living some kind of Groundhog Day until we get it right. And changing situations don't accommodate that.
I first noticed a reluctance to talk to people when M was ill in hospital. It being most unlike me, I did some serious thinking about it and traced it to a frustration that the situation changed daily so any report I gave would need updating almost immediately. Since he died, there have been other situations in which I really didn't want to talk much, and it turns out they're all founded in this thing of not wanting people to go away thinking one thing (and by implication basing their behaviour towards me, or what they say to others, on it) when by the time they do either of those, that thing is no longer true.
It turns out that this matters so much to me that I am preferring not to tell anyone anything at all. This is a rather extreme reaction to what is after all really fairly commonplace. There are many parts of our lives which change. It's why we chat to friends, send emails, post on facebook - to bring people up to date with our world. But here I am, bovvered about it.
Another surprising side-effect of bereavement. I'll try to get over it, but can't promise you instant results.