Bob should have watered them himself, or: Everyone (re)learns from their mistakes

I have epiphanies on a fairly regular basis.

This… is not as great a quality as it sounds.

You see, I don’t have new epiphanies. Not more often than anybody else.

It’s the same ones. The same realizations, over and over again. I forget how much of a blessing it is to breathe. I lose track of compersionI won’t always lead with positive thoughts in my text messages. My brain weasels can run amok

And I can forget the Voice Rule.  My own damn #1 big ass rule for relationships. Completely forget it.

In fact, I did forget the Voice Rule, and it almost cost me my sweetie.  (She wrote about it on her blog separately.)

The specifics of the argument don’t matter. Not at all. Because the argument was based entirely on both of us, at the same time, completely misunderstanding just one thing the other person said.

And from that one misunderstanding, over text message, everything else spiraled out of control.

It’s not that surprising. Both of us have had awful people in our past. People who would manipulate and hurt and gaslight and abuse.  Or – and this applies to me somewhat – you could have caused horrible damage in the past, and so think you see others acting the way you used to (and regret so horribly now).

And without enough information, sometimes you can see patterns that aren’t there.

Which brings us back to the Voice Rule.  

After that misunderstanding, we argued bitterly for a whole week. That’s something we’ve never done before. The one time we’d seen each other during that week, we avoided talking about the fight almost entirely, too glad for the brief peace.

And then we started arguing over text again.

I should have realized. Right then, that should have triggered my early warning sensors.

But it didn’t. And the arguing got worse and worse.

Because even though it was based on a misunderstanding, everything after that first misunderstanding was logical as hell. So before long, we were atop great logical parapets, hurting each other, the whole great edifice re relying on a simple misunderstanding.

Okay, this is pretty abstract, so let me riff off of Wikipedia’s example of the False Premise to show you what I mean, and how you can be logically correct, but completely wrong. 

Bob asked Linda sweetie to water his herbs (for his burgers), but to make sure to not overwater them so they didn’t drown.  Bob comes out from the kitchen, and everything’s sopping wet and the herbs are dead.

So Bob thinks:

  • If the herb garden is wet, it has been watered recently.
  • The herb garden is saturated, drowning the herbs.
  • I did not water the herbs.
  • Therefore, Linda overwatered the herbs.
  • Bob had told Linda that overwatering the herbs would kill them.
  • Therefore, what Bob says is not important to Linda.
  • Therefore, Bob is not important to Linda.

Now, if Linda had overwatered the herbs because she didn’t pay attention when he told her that would kill them… well, yeah. That’d all be true.


But what if it stormed unexpectedly after Linda watered them? Or if it was just lots of rain? Or Teddy had spilled a barrel out of his truck? Or any of a million other things… instead of assuming the worst about Linda

Without going back and examining all our assumptions, we run the risk of being logically correct, and completely wrong.  

And that’s where the Voice Rule helps so damn much, and relying solely on text is so dangerous.

Without the additional communication measures of tone of voice, expression, or other body language, our brain weasels work overtime filling that in for us with the worst possible scenario.

So I keep writing about these things. I keep writing about these little epiphanies like “brain weasels” and the Voice Rule.

It is to help other people, absolutely. Learn from my mistakes.

After all, that’s what I’m trying to do.

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