Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Check who the exhaust might hit before venting

I vent on this blog, and as I've said before one of the reasons that I feel it's safe to do so is that you, the reader, have an out.  You can stop reading, you can click away.  If you can't bear the problems that I dump on you then you don't have to.

This is often not the case in person.  If you and I were stuck in a house together for a few hours and all I did was talk about everything that was wrong you'd have no escape, you'd have no out.  Which means that it all gets dumped right on top of you.  Now, maybe that's not a problem.  Maybe it slides off of you like water off a duck (their feathers are oiled as a waterproofing method, it's actually kind of neat.)  But maybe it doesn't.

Now I've said before that I think my depression is pretty much dealt with.  But it is still the case that what gets dumped on me brings me down.  Pretty much regardless of what it is.  Things do not slide off of me, like a stickabur everything sticks to me.

I don't know if this is a lingering effect of the depression, or just part of who I am as a person.

So if you should, say, complain about the same thing twenty times around me that's going to bring me down twenty times, and no matter how high or low I started, after twenty drops I'm not going to be in the best state of mind.  If you pile on top of that other complaints about all things great and small it's going to bring me down a lot.

If, when I ask you to stop, you berate me and tell me how useless I have been compared to you...  That's not going to help.

I understand that venting is how people cope, and I understand that it's not meant to harm.  But the thing is, if you point the exhaust port at me and then start venting it's going to have the effect of an attack, the more the venting, the harsher the attack.

If I've explained this to you, oh, say, five thousand times and you still do it I might be left with the impression that however much you might like or love me, you really don't care about me much.  Because if you cared you'd, at the very least, remember all those times you hurt me in the past and not want to repeat it in the future.  Certainly not the present.

As is often stated, intent is not magic.  It does not matter what the intent is, if every time you throw a pile of negativity at me it hurts me then throwing pile after pile after pile of negativity at me with hardly space to breathe in between is going to hurt me a lot.  I have been bullied by people incapable of causing that much pain, and certainly not that much pain that quickly.  And some of them resorted to physical violence.

So, after the least abusive member of my family, the only one I wouldn't count as abusive, caused me a lot of pain and frustration this morning and then got pissed off at me when I asked her to stop, my message to the world at large is this:

There will be times in your life when you need to vent.  It is only natural.  When you do, check where the exhaust port is pointing.  If it's aimed at someone who will be harmed by your venting at them, don't vent at them.  Pick another direction, another time, another way, another anything.  The point of venting is to help you, not hurt someone else.  So make sure you're not going to hurt someone else.


  1. Oh lord. It's been one of those days at your house too?

    I don't know the answer, either. Depression sucks, and sometimes I swear it's contagious. And maybe the "venter" is in so much pain himself that he can't see how he's hurting everyone else... although he's been told and told again...

    Oh well. Hoping for a better day tomorrow, for all of us.

  2. I know someone who is quite pleasant, except that her conversation is always and only about what has gone wrong in her life lately...

  3. Hear HEAR.

    I am very sorry you're having to deal with this, and I think I am going to merge "When you vent, check where the exhaust port is pointing" into my vocabulary.

  4. Starhawk describes a Native American tribe (I'm sorry but I don't remember which one) in which the Womens' Society would listen to a woman who needed to vent, and make helpful suggestions. They'd listen a second time to the same problems, and a third. But on the fourth time with the same problems, they'd walk away. The specific number of repetitions is something people have to decide for themselves but I think "No more until you've done something about this problem" is an entirely healthy boundary to enforce. Otherwise venting can turn into a substitute for problem-solving.

  5. I'm not usually affected badly by people complaining, but my mom has a tendency to express a lot of regret about things. Most of the time it doesn't make a huge difference, but it makes me really frustrated when it's regrets about me because even though I know she loves me, it still makes it sound like I could be better if she only did things differently. As I just had a frustrating weekend with her, I sympathize.

  6. It's kind of like humor and grief: vent up and out.