It's sometimes to my detriment that I talk about almost everything that's on my mind. It's near impossible - when something is bothering me - to keep it inside. I'm like a child with a giant secret they can't bare to keep. Or an elephant-sized bubble ready to pop. I'm big on sharing (fancy that) and I believe it's the most therapeutic and healthy way to keep a clear mind. Providing it's done in the right way, of course.
But I wasn't always able to share. It took me a long time to figure out that the basic act of talking was the answer to most of my problems. I tended to keep my feelings hidden, letting them fester rather than bringing them out into the open. It was as though I was frozen.
And then one day I met a wise old man with white hair and a stick on the side of a mountain (or maybe it was a friend in a pub - but the white haired man sounds more intriguing) who told me that if I learned talked things through, to get them out in the open, I could resolve my issues and move forward. So I tried it. And it saved me a lot of relationship problems. Rather than sulking and stewing on my own paranoid thoughts, I began laying everything out on the table. And sometimes the talking was uncomfortable, with long, awkward silences. But after a while I found out his advice was spot on.
Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds - especially when the issue is sensitive, and there are still plenty of times where I'm not able to say what I really think (imagine if you said what you were thinking all the time!). But at least I've made a start.
It should be simple - talking. But it's not always.
There are so many barriers. Sometimes I feel as though I live in the land of people who've mastered the art of not talking. In our efforts to become technologically brilliant, we've invented a million ways to avoid one of the most primitive forms of communication. We're so engrossed in conversing through computer screens and hand-held devices we sometimes forget to just talk to each other. Email is easier than picking up the phone; uploading photos to Facebook is more convenient than printing the files and flicking through an album with a friend; there's text messaging when we want to make plans and Twitter when we want to update our friends.
It's all very solitary and convenient.
Even without all the shiny communication devices available to us, there are people who've developed other internal ways of not talking: they keep their true thoughts enclosed for fear of confrontation or consequence. And though it's hard, I think it's a slippery slope - this act of never saying what you really think.
And it's because of these barriers to communication that I'm working hard to raise two sons who will talk. By offering them an environment that's always open to conversation, I want to teach them that talking will help them through the tough times and the challenges that life will inevitably deal them.
I want them to know, growing up, that they can come to me with any morsel of information, however small or large, scary or ridiculous, and know that I'll listen.
And I might react later, but first I'll listen.
Exactly how I'm going to do this and whether I'll be entirely successful, I don't know. I guess I'll start by practicing what I'll preach - I'll try to be open and honest as much as I can (as open and honest as a mother can be without being downright embarrassing). I don't think it's a complicated thing or an act of genius, simply a work in progress.
And if that doesn't work.... I'll lock them in their rooms until they'll talk.
That's a joke by the way.
How about you - how do you encourage open communication in your household?