Originally Published: March 8, 2017 5:55 a.m.
Dear Annie: I have a friend of over 20 years who has become such a motormouth that I have begun to avoid contact. She talks nonstop. If I call her, she immediately launches into a marathon monologue, and trying to break in with a comment doesn’t work. I once decided to let her talk until she ran out of things to say. Five hours later, she was still talking without coming up for air, and I said I had to go somewhere and hung up.
I try to tell her this, but she just gets angry. I know that other people and even some her family members have distanced themselves because of this. I hate to drop her, but I see no other solution. — Frustrated Friend
Dear Frustrated: Because you said she’s “become” a motormouth, I’m assuming she hasn’t always been one. Try to dig deeper when you can get a word in edgewise; she has to breathe at some point. Try to see whether there are some underlying issues. Some people talk excessively as a way of suppressing or avoiding bothersome thoughts or feelings.
Others talk excessively simply because they think everyone will be fascinated by their stories or because they feel they’re not really being heard. You can try setting time limits on your conversations. (“I’d like to talk, but I only have 10 minutes for this call. Then I need to get back to work.”) You might also try interrupting her, summarizing to her what you’ve understood so far and then leading that thought toward a conclusion. Ultimately, set whatever boundaries you need, and don’t feel guilty. Our time on this earth is precious, and no one should have to sit through a five-hour marathon monologue. In that time, you could have run an actual marathon.
Dear Annie: I’d like to respond to “Feeling So Bad,” the woman who was upset that her friend “Nancy” had passed away and the friend’s husband, “Bill,” hadn’t filled her in. Her husband, according to the writer, limited visits to his wife during her terminal illness. My wife, too, was diagnosed with a terminal and rare cancer. She, for some reason, felt embarrassment and shame, which I since have learned is completely normal. My wife didn’t want to be talked about, didn’t want to be seen with a wig or a scarf around her bald head and so forth. My orders from her were that no one was allowed to visit or drop by at all. I did just as she said because meeting her needs during this awful time was more important to me (and to her) than worrying about our neighbors and friends. Indeed, other than our trips to and from treatment, she shut herself in the house. “Feeling So Bad” need not be upset. I suspect that “Nancy” told “Bill” that she wanted to deal with her sickness in her own way. I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong way to deal with the process of death. — B.R.
Dear B.R.: I appreciate hearing the perspective of someone who has such a personal experience with this issue, and it may bring “Feeling So Bad” some peace, too. Thank you for sharing.
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