"A little rudeness and disrespect can elevate a meaningless interaction to a battle of wills and add drama to an otherwise dull day."
I hate when people argue. It makes me scared. And I'm even more uncomfortable with simmering and unspoken conflict than I am with straight-out fights.
When I was a child and my parents argued, my mother would announce in the middle of a fight that she was going for a drive. An hour later, she'd be home pretending like no fight had ever happened.
I should have been reassured. I mean, everything was ALWAYS fine in an hour--with us joking over favorite meals.
But somehow, I have never gotten over the lesson I was taught that the only way to get past conflict is (in the best situations) by pretending nothing difficult ever happened--and the constant fear that this time might not be the best situation and it might lead to abandonment and the disintegration of relationships.
I don't do well at all pretending like nothing difficult ever happens. I need to go over issues until they lie dead on the doorstep and everybody has fully processed every last drop of emotion.
* * *
Conflict, when there is great respect between the participants in a disagreement, is perhaps the most productive force there is, one that can ultimately allow for not only resolution but profound growth.
I know that now. For years I hid my head in the sand if a disagreement seemed poised to bite, except when it happened in the relationships I was most sure of. But now I try really hard, and am actually sometimes successful, at making myself engage in issues that I know can lead to conflict--all in the hopes that any little battles will make all of us ultimately better people.
* * *
Today on one of my email lists I witnessed one member get slapped (figuratively) by another member whom I thought was being unfair. Thinking she was not necessarily aware of how her message was being received, I wrote her off list to explain my perspective. I was not intending to pick a fight.
She was horrified by my intervention, defensive about what she had said, angry that I wrote her off list, and sarcastic and dismissive about me. Quite a sting.
I'm off to crawl back in my sandpit for a little while.