Confrontation. It is a word laden with emotion and the thought of it makes my heart race a little faster.
Some people thrive on a good verbal stoush and I used to be one of them (just ask my sisters!) – relishing debates with my school and university friends, unafraid to ‘take a stand’ on issues that I deemed important to me. On one occasion I marched to the Dean of Film’s office and demanded a meeting to discuss the choice of screenings for a particular subject – most of them either pornographic or containing significantly explicit content. Casting my objection from feminist grounds I told them in no uncertain terms that their choices left much to be desired. Surprisingly, they responded well to my critique and changed the program to reflect more diverse options.
While studying law, I supported myself with a job dedicated to expressing opinions. My tasks at work included the crafting articles around moral issues, fiercely arguing for a conservative Christian worldview. I wrote fiery letters to politicians and denounced advertisers who dared to pay for slots during questionable shows. Whenever I received a defensive response it would simply add fuel to my own fire and I savoured the opportunity to discuss the issues.
Becoming a lawyer also gave me firm grounds for pursuing debate. A case could turn on whether I could pull together pieces of evidence to show that there had been negligence on the part of the other driver, and scouring the medical records could give me the ammunition needed to demonstrate the severity of a client’s condition. At one stage I went out at dusk with Dave to visit the scene of a crash, taking copious amounts of photos to demonstrate that the driver should have had ample time to see our client where she was standing on the road. The rush of adrenaline when I participated in telephone conferences with the TAC was priceless and I came to simultaneously love and dread that experience.
Somehow, along the way, this fire has dulled into a slow burn. Perhaps in some ways it is due to the all-consuming role of motherhood, or to the horrific aftermath of any fight that forms part of the ‘mummy wars’. We all have such different ways of approaching this crucial role and I’ve learned from observation that attacking another because they have another idea about motherhood never leads to anything good. I’m also careful not to use this blog as a platform to cast motherhood as one with sides of who is in and out – avoiding standing on a soapbox about feeding, sleeping methods or discipline approaches. That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when I have been sorely tempted – particularly in response to Facebook memes or posts that make me feel that ‘my way’ of doing things is being attacked.
So, have I lost my voice or am I mellowing? We all have strong opinions when prodded and we wouldn’t be doing life the way we do if not for the convictions that underlie our behaviours. I guess I have just come to a place where I am happy to let everyone around me approach life in a way that works for them. I don’t lose sleep over terse slanging matches, instead I watch with sadness when I see others tearing into each other. For me, the more that something stirs me up inside speaks to something that I haven’t yet dealt with (or wanted to see) in myself. It becomes an opportunity for me to realise hidden areas in my life that need tending.
But I’m not perfect, and Dave can tell you that I can deliver a good rant from time to time. I hope it is the case that I’ve built a better filter with age, and learned how to express the legitimate angst that comes with being misunderstood without letting that precarious feeling derail me (and those around me) in the process.
How do you deal with confrontation? Do you have any tips that have worked for you in still facing the issue but not allowing it to destroy relationships?
*This post was written in far more than five minutes.
This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge that I’m participating in along with a talented community of other writers. We free write for five minutes (or more) guided by a prompt. Today’s prompt is ‘confront’.
For more information on 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, check out Christina Hubbard’s site!