Home > Uncategorized > You Can Yell at Me

You Can Yell at Me

I’m sure I’ve been yelled at many times.  Almost always, whatever problem precipitated the yelling is soon resolved and the event forgotten. I grew up in a family that expressed emotional freely; my sisters and I felt things intensely, and my dad had to yell just to get a word in edgewise.  But I guess we had a safe place to express our emotions, because we vented and moved on.  And I could not ask for a closer, more loving friendship than the one I have now with my sisters who I used to argue with so frequently.  However, when someone surprises me out of the blue with anger and it never gets resolved, I remember the event forever, and ruminate over it time and again, trying to extract some kind of meaning.     

My favorite example of this happened about three years ago.  That year I was sending my oldest child, Meredith, to a school inconveniently located about 30 minutes away from home.  One evening she had a band recital at the school, and I was on my way to drop off her younger siblings at my sister-in-law’s house about 20 minutes away from home in the opposite direction.  It was rush hour, downpouring rain, and I was running late and anticipating the hour long drive back to school.  So I was feeling a little stressed as I headed down Hix Road, a two lane road.  The guy driving  just ahead of me was obviously in no hurry, and I could not get around him.   “Let’s go, Loser!  Move!”  I was shouting from the privacy of my car.  At a stop sign, I was shocked to see this driver jump out of his truck and storm up to my minivan motioning for me to roll down the window.  I rolled it down slightly before I noticed how angry he looked.  “The speed limit’s 25 miles per hour here you stupid b****!”  he said, then I watched him run back to his car.  I rolled the window back up. 

 Later that evening after the kids were in bed, I laughed at myself for so passively receiving this verbal abuse.  It was just another day in the life of being mild mannered and slow to respond.  Keith chastised me for rolling down the window, but I would do it again.  I would want to know what the guy was going to say.  Yelling is communicating, albeit rude.  His yelling was wrong, yes… but so was my tailgating.

My second example left me with more to think about.  This time, a  friend got combative with me at a children’s play group.  She kept saying things to pick a fight, and I kept steering the conversation away from argument, as there was another friend in the room with us.  This conflict really rattled me at the time because the friend was a person I respected and we had always gotten along.  Later that day, still troubled by it, I called her.  Boy, did I get an earful then!  And it turned out to be about something that took me completely by surprise.  We ended the conversation with me still needing to process some of what she said.  Unfortunately, our next exchange was by email, and she had resumed her formal persona, making no reference to any of what we had said over the phone.    I subsequently decided to let the subject drop–and perhaps inevitably– let the friendship go. 

Now I have to say that I’ve always been glad that this friend yelled at me that day.  In doing so, she put down her mask for a moment,  and showed me a rare glimpse of her true feelings.  I will always remember it, and the things she said; it gave me alot to think about, and changed my perspective on what was going on at that time.  Perhaps if we could have worked out what it was that she was so mad about, we could’ve become close friends.  I did hope for this at the time, and left the door open by responding to her email with an invitation to meet for coffee and discuss it further, but that never happened.  As it stands, I wouldn’t change a thing, and much prefer having been yelled at to never knowing that she felt this way. 

My last example is my most upsetting one.  This time the person was someone I knew of from my kids’ school, but had never had the chance to meet.  Anyhow, one August day, at an orientation, we were put together, and I extended my hand to introduce myself– only to have her turn her back on me and flounce off.  My daughter standing next to me witnessed this display, and started to get anxious, so I told her I would try and work it out.  My heart was in my throat as I crossed the gymnasium and approached her to ask what was wrong.  Well, I then received one of the worst chewings out I’ve ever experienced!  She let go a string of judgements and accusations, all the while staring me directly in the eye with this snide little smile on her face that I will never forget.  I kept trying to save the situation, not believing my ears.  The gist of it was to the effect of, “can’t we just get along?”  Immediately after leaving the event, I called Keith in tears, and he followed up with the school; they assured us this person was out of line and her accusations were false.  And that was the end of it. 

Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I am–yes– glad that this incident happened.  First of all, it revealed something about the person that I had been unaware of :  that she was someone to stay away from.  Harboring those intense feelings, she could’ve done numerous unpleasant things to us during the course of the year, and I would never have had a clue why it was happening.   In addition, I was able to teach my daughter a powerful lesson:   that sometimes even adults don’t behave right, but we do the right thing–keep our calm–and behave properly regardless.  If this woman ever were to apologize to me, perhaps we could become friends, whereas it would have certainly been impossible while she her harbored those ideas, without allowing them to be confronted and shown untrue.  Unfortunately, the kind of person that would behave this ugly toward someone who’s literally extended their hand in friendship will probably not have the self-reflection and strength of character to be able to apologize to someone they’ve wronged.  But that is her problem, not mine.

In the above examples, stranger, friend, acquaintance have all expressed their anger at me.  They are essentially gone from my life now.  What I have are the lessons learned which I believe make me a better person.  As for the people currently in my life with whom I’ve ever had some sort of conflict, they are special to me; we’re closer because we’ve been real with each other, and shown that we can disagree, conflict, clash, etc. and move on.  Anger is an emotion, though not my favorite one; I’ll take being yelled at over the silent treatment any day.

I did not choose the easiest topic to start my blog with.  My husband, Keith, started blogging the same day I did last week, and he’s already 3 or 4 posts ahead of me, while I have stared at my draft, and wrote three pages of notes in a spiral on this topic over the course of the last week.  I was sure people were going to say, “Why would you want to be yelled at?  That’s so rude.”  But I started it, and felt it was important to say.  So, now you know that you can yell at me!  But, if you’re my friend, you probably won’t because you know we can talk about it rationally.  And if you’re upset, don’t worry about expressing that; we’ll work it out.  Remember that what is being said reflects on the person saying it more than it does on the listener.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Ann Ankeny
    March 7, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I was afraid to comment at first because I am quite the opposite. I don’t like being yelled at. Although I would rather people be honest with me than fake, I avoid conflict and arguments all the time. I just don’t like to argue with someone who will not listen to my point of view. The purpose of yelling is to let off steam I guess, but unless the person is trying to make a point that is valid I don’t want them to yell at me. Our father would yell at us just to let off steam and hardly ever had a valid point to prove.
    It sounds like the driver in front of you had a valid point but over-reacted and the woman in the gymnasium was just completly out of line. Interesting stories! Thanks for sharing!

    • March 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      Don’t be afraid to comment! I was using a few extreme examples to make a point. I also feel that yelling is counterproductive to anything you want to accomplish interpersonally. But the point I was trying to make was that upon later reflection I’ve always learned something from such encounters (ie making lemonaid out of lemons), and preferred to know the truth rather than never know. (The kind of yelling that you’re referring to was something different entirely. Maybe it was more of a cry for help that we were powerless to do anything about.)

      I think that if good communication is in place, and good boundries are set in a relationship, yelling is rarely something to worry about. For example, I have never in my adulthood (can’t speak to when we were kids, haha) wanted to yell at you, and can’t currently imagine a situation in which I would. But if you yelled at me, I would not shut you out. Rather I would try instead to discover and resolve the issue. I would think that you would only resort to emotion/yelling in a situation where you felt helpless to change anything or get through to me. So, you see, yelling–as upsetting as it would be to hear–would be a wake-up call for me to try to work harder at understanding you.

      I wish to add that in each of the examples I cited (excluding the guy in the truck), I left the door open for conflict resolution. With the friend, I offered to meet sometime for coffee. While we never were really friends after that, we are cordial when we do run into eachother, so I suppose it could’ve turned out worse if I had had a different attitude. I am glad that I didn’t back down from my position that she was upset about, just tried to explain it (she wasn’t listening), and that the conflict didn’t dissolve into personal insults, etc. With the lady in the gymnasium, I called her that very afternoon and invited her to a get-together at my home to get to know each other better. She did not respond to the invitation and continued to be angry with me for the rest of the school year, but I know that I did everything in my power to make it right. It does take two to resolve a problem, and if the other individual does not wish to resolve it, only to lash out and cause pain, then again I say that is their problem. This person’s behavior hurt herself more than it hurt me. But if I hadn’t confronted it or known the truth, I really believe it could have been worse.

  2. Paige
    March 11, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Wow, Christine — very insightful. I have been known to yell myself when stressed (and I’m not proud of that!) But I admit that I really hate to be yelled AT. You’ve introduced a perspective I never really considered. I think it’s time for me to let go of some grudges and learn from every experience!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • March 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      Thanks, Page! I’m always thinking and rethinking things through, so I’ve gradually come to this philosophy on conflict. It has really helped me cope with all kinds of interpersonal difficulties. It is good to let go of grudges, and I think I’ve done this successfully, even though I unfortunately couldn’t mend all the fences, especially with that last situation. I’ve found that there is a point where you have to step back and let the other person choose to reach back out to you, or not. If they choose not to respond in kind–in friendship, I mean–then you have to let them go. Last spring I had to be at a couple of social occasions with that angry mom from the gymnasium, and I found I was able to approach the situation with very little anxiety. How she felt was out in the open (which was probably a source of anxiety for her–or should have been, lol), so I didn’t have to bother with small talk, etc. with her. I knew I had done my best to make it right between us, so my conscience was clear. This is the way I always want to feel. The intent of my post was not to say that the people who verbally attack us are in the right–quite the contrary–but that we can approach these kinds of situations with a healthy attitude and know how to respond. Thanks again for your comment!

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