I’m a Puffer Fish

… or at least a part of me has taken up acting like a puffer fish. They are those poisonous little fish that can go from little to big in a matter of seconds, by taking in water and sometimes air. It’s amazing how different they look!

Some puffer fish have smooth skin, while others have spikes, like this one:


When a “porcupine” puffer feels threatened, she inflates to look as large as possible and to push out her spikes. There might be times when  something unfamiliar approaches and she puffs just to be cautious. Or if she sees something that is the same shape as a predator, out come those spikes. It may not actually be a predator –and that is the crux of the problem.

My “predators” — I call them triggers — make me puff too. They can be anything that causes me shame. I cooked the chicken too long and it dried out. I wasted too much time doing puzzles. I binged on Goldfish crackers. I did something in the past that destroyed relationships with other people (I’m a certified bridge-burner). I forgot to do something. Anything

All of these  cause me shame, but I pretend I don’t feel it until it gets brought to my attention by someone around me. Immediately I inflate and jab the person with my spikes — irritability, sarcasm, rage, and other unpleasantries.

I don’t enjoy being this way. Puffing my spikes takes a lot of emotional energy, and oh yeah, it can ruin relationships, too. My next task is to find a way to short-circuit the puffer fish part of me and use that energy to actually solve the problem.


3 thoughts on “I’m a Puffer Fish”

  1. What a great way to describe it! I “puff” to myself, venting loudly when my buttons get pushed. Sometimes though when I think I can’t be heard, I am, and boy is that embarrassing! All it does in the end is give me a headache. I justify this as “it’s okay, it’s just private venting” but it’s not okay for me nor for anyone I see after I have vented. The short temper doesn’t necessary go away after venting. I always related to Louisa May Alcott because of her bad temper (in fact she threw hissy fits just like I do when I am interrupted in the middle of a creative spell or thwarted from going into that zone). Helps to have friends along the way. 🙂


  2. I have also noticed that there is a fine line between venting and escalating for me. Sometimes I set a timer: “Okay, I’ll let myself complain angrily for five minutes, then it’s over. That’s enough.” When the timer goes off, it’s sometimes hard to stop. I have to pray about it.


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