Thursday, August 16, 2012

Punching Bags, Over-Reactions and Bringing an Army

I woke up this morning earlier than I wanted and not quite yet ready to hit the day.  With less than minimal sleep, I checked my email and found that someone had left me a comment on one of my entries. 

I, then, proceeded to over-react.  Because that is much more fun, don't you think? Me, too!

And while I generally don't recommend over-reactions, I managed, nonetheless, to at least focus that over-reaction in a positive manner.  In hindsight, I am quite surprised and pleased with myself on that.

In the past (yes! in the past, damnit!) I have made a wonderful punching bag.  I am so empathetic to your pain, that I allow that pain to be an excuse to behave badly towards me.  I excuse your behavior and then have stood still while you took your shots. 

I have a VERY good long history of making excuses for others' bad behavior.  And this is no question one of my underlying repeated issues.  One that I haven't quite yet resolved because I have been doing it as long as I can remember.  I don't really know how not to do it.  It's been a role I've played often and with many people in my life.  It is a role I have unfortunately allowed myself to be in often and with many people in my life.

Now, for the most part, I have been fairly good about not taking the poor behavior personally.  In fact that is kind of a requirement to be successful in this skill.  Because if you take it personally, you'd actually be smart enough, ideally, to not take the behavior at all. 


It doesn't mean that the behavior hasn't been hurtful.  It doesn't mean that the overall accumulated message isn't internalized - you are not important enough for me to treat you appropriately.  It has been.  Don't worry.  I got the message.  Over and over and over, again.

Now, one element of this broader skill of making excuses for poor behavior, then, is allowing others to use you as a punching bag to vent their own anger and frustration.  Again, often you know not to take it personally, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't get internalized. 

I still have a long way to go in letting go of making excuses for others, but I have, at least, learned (for the most part) to stop being someone else's punching bag.  At least I can distinguish that part of it. 

Except until today, I wasn't able, necessarily, to articulate it so well. 

So, at an early hour in the morning, not as properly rested as I wanted to be, and taking the comment in concert with another earlier comment, I felt attacked.  Whether real or imagined, I probably still can't say with accuracy.

But I was feeling vulnerable. 

I wrote what I think was an articulate and even compassionate response to this person who clearly has experienced their own pain.  But I clarified that the description this person had given in response to my post was not accurate as applied to me. 

And then, as this person cowardly came to the "fight" armed only with bad spelling as his or her only tool, I decided it was appropriate to bring an army.   I totally over-reacted.  I know I over-reacted.

And after I summoned my army, I wrote my post about needing to have Thicker Skin and then finally headed off to start my day.

But I have taken some serious time today thinking - a la Sticks & Stones - as to why I reacted so strongly to someone who cannot clearly articulate his or her position which seems to have little to no relevance to what I actually posted.  Many friends kindly and privately asked me why I was reacting so strongly, and made clear that I did not need to waste my energy giving it to such a person.  And they were all correct, and I knew it even before I summoned them. 

But I wasn't feeling so strong today, and so I over-reacted and called an army.  And in doing so I confirmed something I already knew, I am not alone.  I am part of a community.  And even though my friends standing on the sideline thought I looked strong and had this weak person licked and that I didn't seem to need any help, they still responded to my call. 

I have been a punching bag.  I will no longer be a punching bag.  And when I am not strong enough to fight back on my own, I will call my army.  And they will make sure you know that I am not a punching bag.  I may seem weak.  And I may be weak, at times, but with my community I will stand strong. 

Even if I have to over-react to do so... ;)

Thank you so much to all the folks who provided me support publicly and privately, even despite my irrational over-reaction.  You are awesome! 


  1. that trite old saying about strength in numbers is so true. We can do what I cannot do, and borrowing your strength when i have none does not make me weak. it makes me smart. you were smart to call up your army.

  2. friends are a beautiful thing... and no, you aren't alone.