How to Vent Healthy
When going through a divorce, it feels as though the layers of stories go on forever. Depending on how often you see your friends and/or what circles they fall in, you could have what seems like decades of stories to share. New decisions, details, and drama come after every corner. The tricky part is deciding who to tell what and when to tell it! I learned (pretty much by trial and error) how to vent healthy and let me tell you, it takes self-control!
A couple months after my ex-husband and I had filed for divorce a lot of the home we shared was still, well, shared. I was living there full time with our daughter, but he had some items stored in our garage. He also still had his key making it easier for him to spend time there with our daughter since his studio apartment wasn’t ideal for a baby. One evening he was watching her at the house and I got home earlier than expected. I didn’t send a courtesy text message informing him I was on my way because it was MY home I was coming back to. As I pulled up, I noticed my garage door was open. Someone was doing laundry in my garage without permission. Like he owned the place. As he tried to shuffle his way out of the crime scene, I noticed something. He wasn’t doing his laundry, he was doing his girlfriend’s laundry! I saw some rather risque pieces being shoved into that college dorm laundry bag.
My reaction to this situation was the most I have ever lost my cool in my entire life. I felt so violated, disgusted, bitter, angry, you name it … I felt it. I screamed every four-letter word in the book, most likely giving my neighbors a show they had never quite seen before. After he left, I texted my go-to gals telling them what had just happened. The next morning, I woke up with a stomach ache and sent out some more recap text messages. And then the retell. I told this story to probably every acquaintance I encountered for the next month. Each time, I brought myself back to the place of emotional turmoil. Yet, I kept at it. Telling and retelling. I needed to vent this one out the day after, no doubt. But not the month after. I also put post-it notes on the washer and dryer addressed to my ex, reminding him NOT to use the laundry facilities. The notes also reminded me of what had happened. Not all that necessary.
Processing life in conversations with friends is so good. It’s life-giving. It comforts, encourages, and gives your heart a beautiful hope. However, there’s a fine line between sharing with dear friends and the self-inflicted pain from too much retelling. Read on for my three steps to healthy venting.
Pick Trusted Ears
Be careful who you tell what. There will be times you need someone to just straight agree with you. You need them to tell you, that whatever happened really, really sucks. You don’t need a solution or a pick me up, you just need some affirmation, that yes, the situation does in fact completely blow. Other times, you do want a solution. You want logic when you’re all emotion. You want wisdom, prayer, discernment. And then there are the times that you want silence. You want hugs, tears, and quiet. Most likely, you know what friends would fit best in the role that you need. Take some time to think about who you need before you make the initial phone call to spill.
Turn off the Reruns
As I mentioned earlier, with the laundry incident, I told pretty much anyone and everyone who would listen. Sure, it’s a killer story. And each new time I told it, I got that same crazed reaction. However, each time I told the story to a new person, their reaction only fueled emotions that I had already processed and dealt with. Check your motives for the retell. Sometimes we do need that extra support. Other times, we repeat our life’s stories out of habit and it regresses our emotional state.
If I am not careful, I will dwell and dwell and dwell some more. And I am not talking about the good kind of dwelling, like on an exciting something that just happened. I am talking about the kind of dwelling when you’re fixating on something that needs to stay in the past. Letting every detail and word circle around your mind. It’s all consuming. I lose focus so easily and let my mind stay in moments that have already died. Don't resurrect those moments. Think and pray your way out of this place. I will be sharing a Thought Detox series on the blog in the near future, providing you with helpful advice to control what thoughts you allow to dwell in your mind.
I hope these tips were helpful in creating healthy venting habits! It’s not easy and it’s not natural. And a whole lot of self-control is needed, but your mind and emotions will be in a happier place, no doubt!