Do you know somebody who complains day in and day out? Is he or she talking about their problem to everybody they know? All the time? But yet, they do not do much about what bothers him? Are they celebrating their misery? What is it? What is it with pain and talking about it so much but not doing much to solve the problem? It’s so difficult for people around them. They want to help, but can’t help.
You wonder: if someone complains about her pain all the time, if she mentions it so many times, does she think there some magic in repetition that will make it will go away?
My friend Angela used to come to work every day and tell me about how she could not take the abuse from her husband anymore. Every day for six years I had to hear it. In the beginning I used to be very upset and worried about her. I looked for solutions for her, and even went out my way to look for therapists for her. One day I even called the non-emergency police line. I asked them if they had any ideas what my friend Angela could do about the situation.
She wouldn’t call a hotline, or a therapist. Then I realized she talked about her husband and his abusive behavior with everybody at work.
My coworkers used to tell me: “Yes. Angela complains to me too about her abusive husband. That’s the only thing she talks about.”
My Eyes Were Opened
One day Angela invited me to a birthday party for her young son. I was very happy to go there and finally meet her family. However, I also had some worry about meeting her husband. I didn’t really want to be exposed to abusive behavior. I went anyway. It was a nice wintry day. Angela lived in an upscale neighborhood where you could see that most of the houses and the front yards were manicured. The party was fun and there were a few other kids, friends and neighbors. And Angela’s husband was not there.
Angela kept on saying: “I hope Andrew is not coming. He will spoil the party.” She was very nervous. Finally when she brought in the birthday cake, her husband barged in the house like a storm and started yelling. He hadn’t been invited, or that’s what he said.
“Angela, again you are not including me in our family party. Well thank you Angela! This is the wife that I have and this is the family Im working so many hours for, so they can have all that.”
Did Angela Set Herself Up For Disaster
Angela did leave her husband out of their son’s party, or he thought so. When he showed up and went ballistic, she went after him like a little puppy and begged his forgiveness. She told him that she called him many times and left him messages; and that she also texted him. I could hear Andrew yelling at her. She was crying, and he was still yelling. The argument was terrible to hear, but I wondered if he was hurt about not being included. I would feel the same if it were my child’s birthday and I wasn’t invited. But the truth was, I didn’t know what to think or believe. I had been drawn into her drama without knowing enough, or being able to help.
What About The Innocent Bystanders
Where did I stand in all this? I could continue to be her friend. But did I have to continue listening to her complaints every day that made me anxious and fearful, but also helpless? I decided to be there for her. And that was a lot. It was not nothing. It was something. Angela made her choice to live with a yeller, and possibly abusive man. Why and what were not my choice, but hers.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).
Angela may break through her habit of complains a lot, and do something about her painful situation one day. It is in her hands. If she needs help, I will be there for her.