Yesterday was difficult. It’s hard to witness a situation with a stranger’s potentially abusive relationship and know it is not your place to say anything. It’s always murkier when it’s not a physical altercation. I guess the term these days for a verbally abusive relationship is a “destructive relationship”, but the language of it is the same. Youarenotcrazy.com is an easy place to start learning if you’re not sure what it sounds like. No one in a couple should ever be scared of their partner.
Coming down from that took some work. Four thing really helped me:
1. Cute animal photos.
It’s big cat week over at National Geographic! This is the easiest option to try while at work. It’s moderately effective and usually does the trick. This was a more serious case though.
2. Reading about the linguistics of angry language.
I recently picked up How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable. The title is a bit misleading; it is less about getting along and more about getting hostile language out of our lives. Suzette Haden Elgin outlines the roots of why we speak these ways, all while giving the reader tools to learning about their own patterns and to change them. The part I read last night was about listening.
“In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it might be true of.” (George Miller, in Hall, 1980).
Thinking of such a negative situation in terms of the “why” could have been upsetting. Instead, it was therapeutic to consider this couple to be so human.
3. A big hug from my boyfriend.
Hugs aren’t really my thing with most people. Luckily, I have a big exception to that for E. This hug was different. I could barely contain my frustration long enough to take my coat off when I got in to the house. I was just standing there, frozen, completely unsure of what my body needed to do. Cry? Yell? Nope. The answer was Bear Hug.
4. Make something.
Post bear hug, I wandered in to the kitchen to find something to clean, or bake, something to do with my hands. This is what I found instead. The first paperwhite bulbs I’ve ever forced have bloomed! It’s hard to tell, but the three bulbs were planted at slightly different depths to see how that affectedthe plant’s growth. The one blooming already is the shallowest bulb and the tallest stem. It smells so good. Sure, I didn’t have to help it along much, but it felt good to have something that I could do successfully.