Honey, you want me to talk to my friends about you. Trust me…
A number of years ago, my husband gave me a look of anguish and mortification and accused “You talk to people about me. Don’t you?”
I felt a moment of absolute guilt, because I hate it when people talk about me, too. I’m nothing if not honest, though. “Yes, I do.”
He closed his eyes, pained.
“Look,” I began, firming up my spine. “You have a choice. I can talk to nobody about what’s going on and keep it all bottled up and then, when I get home, I can let it explode all over you. Or, I can talk to my trusted women friends who totally get the Women’s Venting Code of Honor. They know I’m with you because I love you and I know they’re with their loves because they love them. That our beloveds are very good people and we just need to vent, but we won’t share it all over town and we won’t hold it against you all, either. And after I talk to them, and I’ve worked some of it through and blown off steam, I can come home and work on it with you with love and civility.
I watched him process this, watched his eyes get huge and panicked at the idea of Global Thermonuclear Maya vs. Calm and Collected Maya. He held up his hand in surrender. “No! Go ahead! Talk it out! Really! Great idea!”
For those of you who are partnered with women, I want to tell you that if she has friends (usually women, but not always) to bring her woes to first, before she talks to you, call yourself blessed. If we talk it over with our friends, then we’ve already processed much of it. We’ve had smart, rational people tell us if it’s our bullshit or yours. We’ve already begun to cope, to strategize and we’ve definitely calmed down (unless, of course, it’s that bad, and then nobody in the world is going to save you from it).
If we’ve had a chance to vent, then we’re already halfway to being able to take whatever situation we’ve found ourselves in and turn it into progress in our relationship. Doesn’t that sound better than scorching off half the hair on your head with our words alone? I thought so, too.
Keep in mind, because women vent to each other, we have to adhere to the Women’s Venting Code of Honor. We have to. None of us is stupid. If you were bad people, we wouldn’t be with you, so when we vent, bitch, kvetch, grumble and whine about you, we know the people we’re venting to, who also vent, bitch, kvetch, grumble and whine about their partners will still understand that you are a quite marvelous person who just happens to be human – which is intrinsically annoying.
Hell, I’m annoying. Irritating, too. Of course I am. So are you.
So when you meet these people, they’re not going to look at you with disdain, contempt or dislike (unless it was that bad, in which case, you would deserve it). They’re going to get that you are a particularly wonderful human being, in fact, because you are the person we have chosen to love. Since nobody’s mamas here raised any fools, we’ve chosen quite well.
It’s just that human thing again.
So – if we vent to our friends about you, if we bitch, kvetch, grumble and whine about you, be glad. It actually means we love you enough to get frustrated with you. If we didn’t love you, we wouldn’t bother.
In fact, if we stop venting, bitching, kvetching, grumbling and whining about you, be afraid. Be very afraid. It means we’ve moved on. We just don’t care anymore. And that would be the saddest thing of all.
This is dedicated to my friend, Jackie, who told me I needed to write this column and who is a past master in the art of the Women’s Venting Code of Honor.