Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sometimes, One Just Has To Vent

In a shockingly circular bit, this post is a way for me to do some venting... about venting. I'm bitching about the ability to bitch.

Triggering event: I'm extremely frustrated with a client of mine. This afternoon I was talking to her, and she drove me totally bonkers. I'm trying to settle her case and she's self-destructing her own settlement talks and then even says that she doesn't really care if the entire settlement blows up. I'm asking her all the questions a good lawyer does to make sure that my discussions with opposing counsel are as focused as possible and she absolutely REFUSES to answer them with any thought, and instead insists on not speaking in hypotheticals (even though those hypotheticals will come to pass the moment I speak to opposing counsel, and she'll have to face them anyway). She even goes so far as to actually tell me how frustrated she is, even though she is the one causing the frustration.

I hang up the phone with her (actually, for the first time in many, many moons, I SLAM the freaking thing down) and, because it simply had to be done, I let loose a very loud, completely unprofessional ARGH.

Now I admit that it was unprofessional. But there's literally three other people in the office right now. No clients. No one poring over a document with the focused intensity of a Franciscan monk. No, it's just me, my receptionist, and two others at the other end of the hall.

So I go to my receptionist (who knows I don't like this client much right now) just to say, "Man, I hate her. I hate her. I hate her. Words cannot express how badly I hate her."

Her response: "Man, what is your problem? Calm down."

Okay, I wasn't expecting a cookie, but since when is the proper response when someone is clearly venting frustration to be so freaking dismissive?

***

Sadly, this has been happening a lot in my personal relationships recently. I can't express a random feeling anymore without it being analyzed, re-examined, re-hashed, and placed under the intense scrutiny of logic. Suddenly, my friends have all turned into Spock/Data hybrids. If your feelings aren't logical, they aren't valid. Because feelings must fit within a particular mathematical rubric of logic.

Me: Man, that evening went on forever. I thought we were stopping in [to a friend's place] for a drink and now it's like 11:30. I thought we were going out tonight.
Friend: Well, you should have said something! If you were so ready to leave, you should have started making the moves to head out. It's not like you don't know how to extricate yourself from a social situation. I would have left whenever you wanted to. You never made a move to leave.

Was I bitching? Perhaps. Was I saying something was keeping me there artificially? Not really. Did I need to be blamed for being frustrated at the lateness of the hour? No, not really.

--

Me: So his mom was nice. Fun. Sometimes I wish my mom were more like that.
Friend: Why would you wish that? There's more to her than you see, you know. His home life is messed up. You don't know the half of it. You don't want to trade into that.

Did I ask to trade up for everything? No. I merely waxed wistful at the thought that my mother may one day sit down with my gay friends and my boyfriend and have a fun time with us. I think we'd agree that having one's mother enjoy the company of her son and his gay friends would be a cool development. Did I need an attack? Not really.

--

Me: Well... that was annoying.
Friend: You didn't have to stay, you know. I would have been happy to move along whenever. Don't act like I was keeping you where you didn't want to be.

Did I say any of that? Did I mean any of that? I think you're projecting what you think I thought. Get over it. I said it was annoying. That's all I said, and that's all I meant. Shut the fuck up about anything else even remotely related to that.

--

Me: That was ... odd.
Friend: Why do you say that? Was that any different from [blah blah blah]? Why is this situation odd when the other isn't?

Is consistency the only thing that matters in life? Am I allowed to find something odd if something similar isn't? Must I parse out the differences? Most importantly, must I think all this through before I open my big fat mouth? (Apparently, for some of my friends, the answer is yes.)

I can't take it anymore. I like for my friends to be there for me, to listen to me, and to at least somewhat ratify my feelings. I don't need them to be "yes-men," agreeing with me on everything, and I do expect to be called to the carpet when I'm being completely stupid, but when it happens all the friggin' time -- including times when I'm not being completely retarded -- I get sick of it.

And, frankly, I think it affirmatively hurts my friendships when I find that I have to stop and think about absolutely everything before it passes through my mouth. I don't like having to censor myself. I don't want to have to fact-process my thoughts before speaking on an impulse. In most unscripted conversations, thoughts just spew spontaneously. It seriously constipates the flow of conversations if I have to stop and think, and adjust my comments based upon what your perceived criticisms will be.


I feel a little bit better already, in part because I'm thinking the readers of this blog won't react the way I've described above. I've come to realize that venting on here is therapeutic in that way: no one expects to have to answer you, or contradict you. I feel like somoene's "listened" (even if no one at all has read this) and with that, I can be content.

Flames on this post, though, may send me over the edge.

7 comments:

Law-Rah said...

"I can't take it anymore. I like for my friends to be there for me, to listen to me, and to at least somewhat ratify my feelings."

I cannot begin to tell you how much I understand you right now. I am having the exact issues with some "friends" in my life right now. Lately, the friends I have vented to are breaking me down instead of building me up. I was thinking it was selfish of me to expect such a thing of them. Thank you for this post!

Ryan said...

I read it, Dennis.

You want some cock pictures?
I'll send ya some cock pictures...

:)

Dennis! said...

Law-rah: I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this boat. Sometimes one just needs to let off steam and not be yelled at for it!

Ryan: I am speechless.

Rich said...

I had a friend (well, I guess i still have him) with whom I was having similar problems. Everything I said immediately went under the microscope, mostly because he was deep into getting his degree in psychology and perhaps I unconsciously became a test subject. Anyway, I can't hang with anyone I can't speak freely around, so I put some real distance between us. Recently he called me on this and I told him what I was feeling. Conversation could have gone either way, but took pains to explain my position and he's been better about not analyzing everything I say. Point is, sometimes you have to be prepared to cut ties (maybe temporarily) with people who, unwittingly or not, hurt us. I mean, don't we all have enough stress in our lives?

I feel your pain...

Dennis! said...

Rich: I am well on my way there. I've actually resolved to relax ties with one particular friend a few times now, but I haven't completely severed them yet. Though next time he unleashes shit on me, I'll try my best to finally just tell him what's on my mind.

Drew said...

I went through that exact same thing a few months ago, Dennis, and I wanted to inflict physical harm on people. There's nothing wrong with venting to friends once in a while, but when those friends get all weirdly defensive and act like assholes...yeah, it's time to re-evaluate the friendship.

Dennis! said...

Yah... I had a good friend of mine tell me to my face ("because I love you," he said) that I was "the most superficial person [he] know[s]" during the course of a conversation we were having about my observations on gay life. I stopped talking to him right after that weekend (it was over Thanksgiving and we were both visiting friends somewhere else) and haven't looked back. Fuck that shit.