#193: Yelling: An Introspection

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #193, on the subject of Yelling:  An Introspection.

You are yelling at me.

I do not know why you are yelling at me.  That is, I hear what you are saying, and know the subject of the diatribe–yet even that will be forgotten ere long.  You are in yelling mode, I in stress avoidance mode, and in stress avoidance mode I do not process what you say.  I do not even really think about why you are yelling.  Perhaps you have a headache, or a craving, or some other internal discomfort making you overly sensitive to small annoyances.  Perhaps someone or something else has brought you to the edge of your endurance, and you have to yell at someone, and whatever this is about has given you the needed excuse to make me that target.  That, too, becomes irrelevant, along with whatever it is that you are verbalizing, as my stress avoidance mode attempts to insulate me.

The insulation is of course imperfect.  I might not recall what you said, nor recognize what is prompting it, but I will be suffering the aftereffects of the assault, certainly for the next hour, maybe for the rest of the day, and in some sense it will remain with me for the rest of my life, an accumulated addition to the internal collection of negative feelings I have absorbed about myself, a subconscious recognition that you might at any moment unpredictably launch into a new tirade, attacking my self-esteem over some complaint of which I was unaware–stop tapping your fingers, don’t leave the bread out on the counter, rinse out the tub when you’ve finished your shower.  You will yell at me again; I am conditioned to anticipate it, and nervous in your presence because of it.  Hiroshima escalates from Nothing very quickly, and unavoidably, it seems.

You wonder why I am so withdrawn, so depressed, so distant; why I don’t share my feelings.  Part of that is in this:  I am afraid of you.  I am afraid that I will say something that upsets you, and you will react in a way that tells me I should not have said that.  Yet I know that it is not just whether I say the wrong thing; it is whether I do the wrong thing, or more threateningly fail to do the right thing.

I see others respond to yelling with yelling.  I remember doing that myself, once upon a time.  It has always proved unproductive, accelerating the inevitable escalation but in the process also intensifying it.  Yelling back does not make me feel better; it does not even really prevent me from feeling so bad, ultimately, and gives me one more reason for being depressed–and it makes you also subject to yelling, with effects that are likely similar to those I face.  There is no advantage, no benefit, in yelling back, but that it hurts you the way it hurts me.

I should ask you to stop yelling, but it won’t work.  You yell because you want to change your circumstance and see no way to do so but to change my actions; my actions are not entirely within your control, even if you yell, but you see no other way to influence them–I do not change easily, and it is doubtful that yelling will have any more effect than any other approach.  Someone has said that there is not a man alive who does not deserve to be nagged, and not a shred of evidence that it has ever done any good.  There is little evidence that yelling at me has any effect on me other than increasing my depression and shutting down my ability to accomplish anything.  Yet if it helps you feel better, I will tolerate the tirade to let you vent those frustrated feelings.  I will deal with my own depression as I always have.  I don’t exactly ever get over it, but I get past it and return to functioning.  So I live with the yelling.  Doesn’t everybody?

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