1/14/07

Creating Your Own Supportive Environment

This article in the blog, Creating Passionate Users, articulates what I've suspected for a long time: Angry Negative People Can Be Bad for Your Brain

The summer before my marriage fell apart, my ex and I were eating breakfast at an outdoor restaurant. At the table next to us were three people: two women and a man. One of the women spoke in a loud voice. We couldn't help but over hear her. She spoke at length about her rotten ex husband, the state of her divorce, the negative experiences with lawyers, custody battles, self esteem issues, and other matters strangers had no business hearing. She was so angry, she didn't care. Her two companions listened in silence, nodding, and eating their breakfasts. They looked sad and trapped.

After we paid for our meal, I commented to my ex, "She's been divorced for two years, but she's still living it like it happened today." Her anger was so palpable, it had put a pall over several breakfasts in that room.

In another incident, a former coworker would talk to me during breaks about her divorce and her cad husband and his remarriage. I listened sympathetically, asking a few leading questions and feeling so sorry for her. Her pain was real, and she would often burst into tears. After a few conversations, I ventured to ask, "When did you divorce?" She answered, "Twelve years ago."

I was stunned. Needless to say, I stopped enabling her. But the experience made me wonder: Why do people insist on clinging to such enormous pain, hurt, and anger for so long? Don't they realize that these dark emotions, if pursued for too long, drive others away? And that clinging to your anger affects your health and overall outlook on life?

I swore after these two incidences that I would strive hard to put my anger at anything - including my ex - aside. Has it been easy to follow my own dictum? It's been extremely hard at times, but I strive as well as I can to stay out of harm's way. I do not surround myself with perpetual victims and angry folks, and in my leisure time, I actively seek out laughter and fun.

I work hard at creating my own supportive environment of positive people, maintaining a positive outlook, and pursuing healthy outlets and activities outside of work. Am I always successful at it? Of course not. It's a process and I'm learning as I go. I do adhere to a set of standards. Let me explain.

There's a wonderful blog out in the blogosphere about divorce, but I don't have it listed in my blog roll. Despite all the good advice, humor, and interesting thoughts, the author keeps referring to her ex as an "idiot." Yet he is the father of her children! As a child of divorce, this casual use of the term doesn't sit well with me.

Suppose her children read her blog? Would they then think of themselves as the kids of an idiot? What an awful thought. Or perhaps she doesn't care that her children know. That would be even sadder. Divorce is tough enough on kids without their parents engaging in self-defeating name calling. And what is the point other than to dehumanize the other person? The problem is that after a while such tactics start to boomerang on oneself, reflecting on one's own immature outlook, not the ex partner's. Meanwhile, the children are caught in the middle.

This person, in my opinion, has crossed the line. Why not keep her opinions to herself? It would have taken almost as much energy for her to work on forgiving her ex for whatever transgressions he's guilty of and create a loving supportive environment for her kids, that would also include their father, as to maintain an active, ongoing blog. (As blog authors, we know how much time, effort, and creativity our blogs take.)

So I choose not to visit her blog or link to it. Reading it would make me too angry. I'll just keep plugging away, minding my own business, and actively working on being content and at ease with my unexpected single life.

1 comment:

DWordDiva said...

Thank you so much for writing that. Your words are powerful and your message is important.