Archives for posts with tag: yelling doesn’t help

If you’re human, chances are, sooner or later, there’s going to be some yelling. It may seem “appropriate” in the moment. Maybe it’s because something went wrong, or was tremendously frustrating. Maybe there’s a ton of anger behind it. Could be you yelling. Could be someone else yelling. Could be “at you”, or just near enough to be audible to you. There’s gonna be some yelling at some point, because very few people are explicitly taught any other behavior, and we see that loss of emotional control modeled pretty much everywhere, daily, and then amplified in our media and entertainment. Yelling is a thing a lot of people do.

I don’t like yelling. I don’t like it when my own emotional reserves run out and I am reduced to yelling. I don’t like being yelled at (ever, at all, over any-fucking-thing whatsoever). I’m not making any claim to whether my feelings about, or response to, yelling is generally reasonable – I don’t have an opinion on that; I simply don’t like yelling. At all. That’s a me thing.

My feelings about yelling, generally, are of no consequence to the existence of people yelling as a phenomenon. Yelling still occurs, regardless of my feelings. Humans being human. We vocalize, and under specific sorts of stress, we vocalize louder. We’re rather stupid primates in that regard – we apparently think being louder makes us easier to hear, or to listen to. Doesn’t seem to be that way in practice, in any clear or obvious way. Yelling does feel “weaponized” though, and my own perspective is that any good intention in the words being spoken is entirely lost as soon as the words are being yelled. All I hear is the emotion driving the yelling.

Today is high risk of yelling, due to the additional environmental stressor of having our roof being done. It’s hard to relax, converse, work, problem-solve – really anything that requires any focus is wrecked by the “stomping” (they aren’t) and banging (they definitely are) and nailing, and all the various overhead noises that are part of roofing. So, noise being noise, and the both of us having some “noise sensitivity” concerns, there’s considerable risk of lost tempers, frustration, and yeah – yelling. Not gonna lie, I don’t like it. I am eager to have the roof finished, though. It’s work that needed doing when we bought the house, and now here we are, at last. I’m sure not going to do anything to slow this process down. Instead, I’ve got to commit to the practices and verbs that help me manage my own tone and communication – while also committing to the practices and verbs that allow me to make room for my Traveling Partner to have his own experience. We’re both wholly human, and each having our own experience. His frustration often results in yelling (it’s often not personal at all, and often not directed at/toward me – he’s just somewhere else yelling at a thing or process that is frustrating him). It’s part of his communication style and a means of self-expression, I suppose, and it’s not up to me to decide who he is or chooses to be. (I definitely do need to work on not taking it personally – because it isn’t personal.)

I so loathe yelling as an experience, myself, that I work my ass off to just not do that. At all. My results vary, and I admit that I yearn for success that results in a 100% no-yelling environment as a basic condition of day-to-day life, which is a really high bar for success). Again, I don’t make any claims as to whether this is a reasonable approach or desired outcome. I don’t know that. I just know it is what I want for myself (and the world I live in). So I keep working at it. Practicing not yelling. Practicing not becoming a crying mess of bullshit and drama when I hear raised voices.

I mean.. actually… it’s important to practice the positives (it’s hard to practice not doing something, easier to practice doing the more appropriate thing that gets the desired outcome). My Traveling Partner is right about that; expressing such things in the negative (“don’t do” vs “do”) limits success at the most basic cognitive level. I guess that makes “practicing not yelling” more about doing the practices that build emotional resilience and reduce reactivity, and practicing taking a calm and measured tone – even under stress. That’s helpful to prevent becoming a crying mess of bullshit, too, although for that I think also practicing non-attachment, and practicing acceptance, compassion, empathy, and consideration go a long way toward avoiding bullshit and drama.

Now, for anyone thinking to themselves “well, what if it is personal?”. “What if the yelling is abusive, controlling, or manipulative behavior for personal gain?” “What if I really am being emotionally attacked by this person?”. Well, to that I say “I hope you recognize that the most useful solution to such a relationship is to get the fuck out of there while you can?” Meditation doesn’t resolve abuse. Mindfulness, consideration, kindness, openness, and even love will not prevent someone who is harming you from continuing to do so. (Nor will they heal broken bones or broken hearts.) It’s important not to assume someone else’s abusiveness is “you”. Set clear boundaries. Build healthy relationships. Walk away from abuse. You matter. Work on you. Let that other person fix their own bullshit.

Anyway. It’s a second day of listening to banging over head. It’s hard on both my partner and I, and it means a day of practicing patience, of being kind, of being aware and considerate, and of cutting ourselves and each other some slack when tempers flare or voices are raised in a moment of frustration. There will be verbs involved. No doubt my results will vary. I’ll just have to begin again. 🙂

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.