I am not one to whine a lot, or at least I don't want to be that person. You know the one that always has a complaint, an ache, a grievance. I have been that person. There was a time in my life when I was dealing with some pretty tough stuff and it felt like every conversation I had was heavy. Now though, I would rather have fun with my friends. I would rather laugh than cry. But sometimes, venting to a friend is really the best medicine.
Last week, I got my feelings hurt. It doesn't happen often, mostly because I have come to realize that I am not the center of the universe and that other people are not really out to get me. But sometimes I find myself unwanted and I usually figure that out when a pointed comment is aimed at me. Not an inconsiderate remark because those I have learned to let go. No, these were intentional attacks on my character masked by the casual manner in which they were said. These barbs stuck with me. I wore them on my heart, heavy and painful.
The words reverberated and repeated. I tried to let them go but they stuck tight. Tears sat just below the surface, bubbling over at inopportune moments. One such time was when I was picking up Hockey Boy from a play date with friends. My friend asked me how I was doing. "Fine," I responded because that is what you say when you are in the middle of a kid exchange. But she saw the tears so close to the surface. And as a good friend she pushed back. She could see the tears. And so I told her about the words. The pain of being unwanted.
And the most amazing thing happened. As I said the words, as I told the story of these phrases that had been weighing me down for days, they floated away. It was as if, simply telling someone else freed me. As if, the words themselves were swept away once I released them from my mouth.
There was a time in my life when telling the stories added fuel to the flame, when I was empowered in my righteous anger by my friends' agreement. But not any longer. Nowadays it seems, my friends and I are seeking freedom and grace, not grudges and power. And so venting is now a powerful tool to let off the steam of pain building up within, venting is what it was always meant to be - a release.
I don't always do it well and sometimes it turns to ugly gossip but when done well, when my stories are let go instead of held tight, venting can be a powerful tool toward peace.
This story happened last week and I honestly had not thought of the words that hurt again, until I sat down to write this post on the power of venting. But now their barbs have been sanded down. They cannot stick. They no longer have power.
Do you find venting to a helpful release?