Friday, November 16, 2018

Gossiping and oversharing as means of coping

Recently, I've been watching my tendencies to gossip or share information that serves no constructive purpose. I get that impulse to text a third party something along the lines of, "can you believe what she just did?!"

And I'm pausing.

If I'm sending that text to really understand why someone acted as they did in order to better align my own responses, I send the text. That's constructive. It's useful. I'm trying to understand a dynamic between me and another person with help. I'm trying to make sure how I engage with the dynamic serves me and aligns with my integrity.

But sometimes, that's not the reason.

I'm sending the text because I want a witness.

I asked myself why? What purpose does it serve? Generally, folks don't even believe something they didn't see in the flesh, so it's not even like I'm gathering so many allies. I'm really just gossiping.

But I realized it makes me feel safer. I want more people watching. I want more people protecting me.

But they can't really. They don't really know what behavior I deem threatening. We all have our own gauges for what we find acceptable or not.

And honestly, most of us aren't really paying all that close attention.

I'm responsible for what behavior I find safe and appropriate and what lies outside those boundaries.

As I'm writing, I'm realizing there are two issues. This first one, laid out above, is externalizing safety. I think other people are responsible for me feeling safe and seen. So I'll gossip to try to assure my own safety-- though it's a truly flawed method! So flawed that I'm finally walking myself out of that pattern.

The second is a byproduct of gaslighting. Oversharing. I sat this morning thinking about when I've divulged on social media or this blog something deeply personal. I do that less these days. It's not that I'm so highly evolved or mature. Not a bit! It's that I'm working with the material of my own life differently.

For me, oversharing, or working out unresolved personal issues publicly was related to learning to trust myself. Like so many people, I've dealt with decades of gaslighting in really pivotal relationships. Being gaslit completely undermines a person's ability to trust their own perceptions. It was utterly destabilizing and lead me into bouts of depression. A big way that I've learned to stabilize myself is by recognizing my own internal cues about what I think is appropriate, what's comfortable for me, what behavior and energy I'm aligned with, and what I'm not. Not questioning myself or trying to talk myself into another way. Just recognizing and honoring what's true for me.

When I couldn't do that, didn't yet have the skill set, I overshared. I wanted the material to be public so I could get other opinions on what it all meant. I brought other people into my interior to try to make sense of it because I was used to my interior being pillaged for other purposes. I overshared because I didn't know what I thought of my own experience. I sorted it out on spaces like this.

I have a journal now.

I'm laughing as I write this because sometimes it feels less satisfactory than the dopamine hit of getting an affirmation from a reader. And I do think it's important that we tell our stories publicly. I still wholeheartedly believe in that. It's how we make our lives into art and take away the charges others have placed on certain events.

It's a matter of discernment.

I sort it out in my journal. Once sorted, I figure out if I'm ready to make it into art.

It's a quieter and more solitary practice, but then again, that's sort of my life these days. Simpler. Quieter. Much more room. I did it intentionally.