Trauma dumping and what to do about it

Over the years there seem to have been friends who would contact me to talk about their lives. This would go on for long amounts of time, where they never seemed to stop talking about their pain, without invitation.

This type of monologue would become monotonous because if I gave them initial time (because this would happen with no warning) with an invitation to call each other, it would become a one-sided dissertation of their pain for the last 20 years, and unwanted by me, their captive audience.

This may sound harsh but if you’ve ever been used as a dumping ground for repeated stories by the same persons over and over again, this may cause some resentment in the listener. Listening takes a person’s personal time and energy and can be a drain over the duration of the phone call.

Unfortunately for them I have learned I cannot give them my time as they seem to think their behavior of dumping their life’s problems on me is welcomed. In order to give the right message to make this stop, I have had to never be available for a phone call with these people.

I don’t answer the phone if I know they are calling and I don’t agree to meet with them. This is for my own protection and sanity. I know that once a person feels some temporary relief they will call me back again and repeat the process. The object is to break their habitual seeking me out so that they can dump their pain and explain their stories to me again, monopolizing me in the process.

I just wanted to vent and yet it is hopefully helpful for some of you to understand what is going on with some of your friends who should seek professional help if they are suffering through some things. You should not have to carry their burden, even being Christians we have to have limits, and we have to maintain our own schedules and personal energy levels to function in our own lives.

Here is a link to what I hope explains a lot more about people experiencing trauma and pain to that you can see the dynamics and that you have choices in how you make your time and energy available for people. If it goes on too long I would suggest you stop them gently, and in a caring way tell them you have to get off the phone and that you hope they get some professional help.

It really is the right thing to do. If you pray for them that’s great but you don’t have to let them suck all your energy, (I know that sounds harsh but we are human after all), and drain you so that you resent them and want to never speak to them again. Yet, you may have to cut them off forever. Do what you think is right and as always, with decisions you are making, seek the Lord’s help.

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