One of the reasons I write is that I was taught in therapy to journal, to self-evaluate, one of the reasons I truly appreciated being part of a support group was that I had a variety of people to talk to that I could work things through with. Since therapy and support group ended, that’s one thing I’ve missed.
I’ve been lucky enough to have developed friendships with some very caring people online, most of the people in my daily life are unable to understand what I have survived, the challenges my disability presents, what triggers me or how sensitive I am and why.
I often turn to my friends who are willing to listen and allow me to share my concerns, they understand that I’m looking at my own behavior, attitude, motivations and am looking for some reassurance or clarification.
When some folks learn that I’ve confided in a friend, or written about a situation online, they get upset and accuse me of gossiping or ‘airing dirty laundry’, primarily because they don’t understand the purpose of what I do, the therapeutic nature of ‘venting’ and working things through in an appropriate way.
In the book, “Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day” by Anne Katherine, M.A., the author explains that if someone talks to another with the intent to draw that person to their side, away from the absent person, that is gossip. If the person talks to another in an effort to determine where they got lost in an argument or situation and the intent is to understand more about how to better help herself in future situations like the one she’s currently talking about, that is not gossiping, but clarifying.
“Two hallmarks distinguish gossip from a clarifying discussion. First, with gossip, the absent person is equidistant to the two talkers. In clarifying discussion, the absent person is generally closer to the talker than to the listener.
The second difference is that a clarifying conversation leads to action on the part of the speaker.”
I write and talk things through with friends, looking for the same thing I got in my support group and therapy, an opportunity to look at what was said/done, how I handled what was said/done, how I felt about what was said/done and to determine whether I could have said/done anything different, if there were a better way to have handled the situation.
When writing or talking things through with a trusted friend, I try to talk about how I felt, how I interpreted the situation, the emotions that the situation elicited and what my intent was in the situation.
I would much rather write or talk a situation through, when I’m upset and get the emotions out, work them through, than to stuff my feelings and let them have a chance to fester. Sometimes it helps to talk through a situation more than once, as each time it is discussed I’m able to let go a little bit more, to cope a little bit better, to determine a better way of confronting such a situation in the future.
It’s often difficult, sometimes feels impossible, to talk to the person or people who’ve triggered me. I will try to convey my feelings, but if I don’t feel I’m being heard, I’ll sometimes change the subject, try to navigate away from the trigger.
Having some time to ‘decompress’ after being triggered is really very important for me. I need to feel safe, secure and have some time to process my feelings, to think things through and do some self-evaluation.
I will never allow anyone to accuse me of gossiping or airing dirty laundry again, when I know that I’m doing important personal work, doing what I need to do to take care of me. I know what my intent is, I can’t allow others to try to guilt me into not protecting and caring for myself.