I've been pondering something (so unlike me..). I was talking with my ex a couple of weekends ago and, while it was lovely and we're getting on really well (probably helps that we only see each other every couple of months..), I found myself falling into the same ways of communicating. Or not communicating, to tell the truth.
We talk well together and we always have, that hasn't changed. But one of the reasons I felt I needed to get out of the relationship was because I just didn't feel that she was particularly interested in me. She certainly wanted to know what I had to say and what I know but wasn't so concerned about what's going on inside my head. Our discussions and topics always seem to revolve around her and her questions/problems. I don't mean to imply that she's self-centred (well, she's an only child so there's a small element of that - but she's a very generous, giving person) she's just more concerned with her own stuff. Naturally so: I think we're all like that to an extent and we should be, there's no-one more important in our lives than ourselves.
I was more concerned with how much I went along with it, both in the recent conversations and, thinking back, through the later years of our living together. I'm much more comfortable letting other people talk about their stuff and simply adding comments/opinions or advice to the subject of their choice - it's partly the problem-solver in me. And I don't tend to steer things around to me, or even offer much up – which is the low self-worth coming out. In our relationship I seldom talked about myself - and she rarely asked. If there is any criticism that I can level at her it's that: she never seemed to want to hear about my stuff and was too easily distracted if we ever did get into it.
So the last time we met we talked for a couple of hours about a bunch of stuff, mostly around her friendships, current relationship and impending marriage - stuff that's obviously on her mind and that I found interesting. It's understandable that she'd be a bit reticent about asking about my personal life but it simply didn't seem to occur to her to find out. This hasn't exactly upset me - that relationship is very much over and the rebuilding into a friendship will take a long time - but it was the way I reverted to type that worried me. My instinctual self-deprecation and concealing behaviours came back far too easily.
I think I'm getting better at it - meeting people and getting to know them through dating and just being more social has made me realise that I'm not actually boring and what I have to say about my life does engage other people. I'm learning to have the confidence to talk about things without being overly self-effacing and steering the conversation quickly back to talking about the other person's interests. It also helps that I've been talking with people who share many of the same interests.
I guess this is always the way with personal growth - being able to identify the times when you slide back into old habits and to try to figure out ways to prevent that in the future. I think I'm getting a handle on it and generally I'm happier with myself these days than I have been for a long time. It's kinda nice to feel good.