This morning, while I was at work, I received a call from someone  that put me in a somewhat anxious frame of mine, and reminded me of the sort of anxiety that happens fairly often in my life. As someone who writes a lot about communication , I find that conversations are a frequent subject of personal concern, especially as this conversation dealt with a matter of concern that has lasted for several years, and there was a promise of a further conversation that has yet to happen. As someone who worries a lot in general, and who muses about conversations past, frets about conversations that are going on in the present, and that is filled with great anxiety over future conversations or conversations that have not happened yet, I suppose it should not be a surprise that I should find myself so easily troubled by the matter of talking about personal background and context with regards to my relationship with other people and institutions.
When one reflects on conversations and communication in general, they are never in isolation but always in a larger context that takes into account the communication in the past with people in the same roles or positions. If our experiences in certain conversations or certain contexts has gone particularly poorly, we tend to enter into future conversations with the same scripts in mind. Even if we consciously attempt to overcome the past, there is some sort of heart memory and similar occurrences or situations trigger a cascade of past feelings and memories, which can often be intrusive and unpleasant if the course of our life has not gone particularly smoothly in the past. Often we must long envision a better future before we gain enough experiences to overcome our pasts, if we ever do. I grew up rather socially awkward with few friends and few successful social interactions until well into my teenage years, and during my teens and early twenties, as I attempted to master the sort of ordinary social interaction that most people take for granted, a process that is admittedly still ongoing, I wrote a lot of plays where dialogue was important in establishing give and take and mastering the flow of a conversation. Where experience is lacking, imagination will take fertile root.
Being a person of particularly high anxiety in the course of my ordinary life , present interactions are the occasion of a great deal of personal stress. In the midst of tense conversations, I wonder how well I am understanding the other person, and how well I am making myself understood, in tension between an immensely conflicted set of emotions including a desire to set the other person at ease, a desire to feel at ease myself, a desire to extricate myself from unpleasant and hostile conflict, a desire to settle matters that have long been in dispute or clear up persistent and frequent misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and the end result is fairly exhausting. Given the sort of intense overanalysis and the massively ambivalent feelings I bring to my own interpersonal communications, whether written or spoken, I suspect that it is similarly exhausting for other people to try to figure out exactly what I am about, and easier to stop thinking about it as soon as one comes upon one of my notoriously mixed and multifarious motives and intents in a given communique. Despite, or maybe because of, the complexity of my own feelings and thoughts about nearly any subject, I am not without empathy for those who are unfortunate enough to have to untangle their own interactions with me, although that empathy has not tended to dramatically improve the result of communications so far in life. Perhaps that time has yet to come.
Just as past interactions and contemporary ones can cause a great deal of anxiety, it is possible to spend a lot of frustration pondering future interactions. Being haunted by future conversations is usually the result of seeing something that is unresolved, and perhaps something that we fear cannot be resolved based on where we stand and where other people stand, and how interactions go and how matters fail to progress or keep going in the wrong direction. Even where we script conversations with other people, it is important to realize that we are in fact communicating with other people and that no matter how much we may want to get one point or a few points clearly understood, that the people we are dealing with may not allow us this chance. Sometimes, frequently, conversations can be a matter of considerable difficulty, but still we communicate, because for most of us the joy of being able to relate to other people is worth even the frequent difficulties and frustrations we face in keeping harmonious relationships with other people. Those who do not have such intense longings to get along with others often end up becoming hermits because it require so much effort to get along with others, considering such beings as we ourselves are.
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