Coping Through Carping

Today, thanks to my ever-patient and forgiving wife, I learned something about myself and other people. To be fair, this is a lesson I’ve learned more than once before, albeit via other media. But I think I can sum it up for my own future reference right here:

Sometimes, people just need to complain, and I need to let them do that.

They’ll look to their friends, coworkers, neighbors, and compatriots to support them and even participate in the beef sessions.

My own gripes — especially the written ones — are typically wrapped around some constructive purpose. When displeased with the service I got at a local bike shop, I wrote ’em up and achieved some satisfaction from knowing that at least my experience would be available online for someone else to learn from. Even when verbally spouting off at work about work, I’m looking for the root cause, documenting the signs to watch for next time for the sake of prevention, re-thinking the reaction strategy, etc.

But that’s my method of coping. Most people bellyache about something as means to just deal with it. I learned this slowly over the course of my relationship with my girlfriend, then wife (same person). Her method was to blow off steam by griping, and it frustrated me that I could never fix the problem, until she made me realize that I couldn’t, shouldn’t, and trying to would be futile. Part of the reason that I’m having this issue with others’ gripes now is that she is more flexible that I am — she’s more or less stopped moaning in my direction. But that hasn’t really helped me grow to the point where I can accept a complaint for what it is — just a complaint. I need to come to grips with the fact that

I’m the freak here.

It seems most everyone else gets the matter off their chest and moves on. I mistake the fuss for a symptom instead of the treatment it really is. And I need to realize that in the process of other people’s complaints, they’re going to say things that aren’t true or even nice or are definitely out of character for them — things that I have a hard time letting slide on grounds of consistency, accuracy, or objectivity. But I need to learn to let it go for the sake of the coping through carping.