Monday, June 27, 2011

Responding to drama

I recently had the experience of getting into a confrontation with someone who was really angry at me.  What I did wasn't really so bad - even by this person's admission - but it apparently was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

What developed was an hour-long tirade of a couple of years' worth of my sins against this person.

I was in shock.  I had no clue.  The poison and the venom just kept coming....... along with statements like 'I know you didn't mean it'...... and 'I'm glad we cleared the air'.

Honestly I doubt that my friend's 'air is clear'....   and I know for a fact that mine isn't :-)

I am left in a quandary knowing that whatever I do next will be wrong.  Because everything I thought was RIGHT apparently wasn't.

So my choices are to close the door and nurse my wounds or proceed like nothing happened.


Man, I hate drama.

First - fight fair.   If time has passed and you haven't dealt with something that upset you... well... too bad.  By allowing time to pass, you have made a decision.  And that decision is to NOT DEAL WITH IT.  There is no way you can fix the past..... and there is no way that the person you are angry with can fix it either.  The only thing you can do is get over it..... limit your exposure to the person OR realize that moving forward means YOU need to let go of whatever it is.

Soo.... If it is important, deal with it NOW.  If it isn't, LET IT GO.  Don't resurrect old stuff that should be gone.

In my case..... I am not going to spend a lot of time justifying things I can't even remember.  I will take this person's word that I screwed up and apologize.  That's all I have and all I can do. Because I am indeed sorry that they are hurting and I may be the cause.

Second - whether it looks like it or not - most likely you are not the personal focus of a vendetta.  Whoever you are dealing with is probably NOT targeting you for pain and sorrow.  Most people are not deliberately slighting you or ignoring you.

Soo.... if we are talking about someone you love and care about the relationship with.... let them have the BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.  Life is busy and we are all neglectful.   We text and email instead of talk.... we assume that a group of friends will share info and we don't make 5 contacts when we can make one.  And we need to be kind to each other.   

In my case, even though I was obviously a target of anger...... it is equally obvious that I am not a villain.  Chances are really good that in this instance, I am a scapegoat for a whole lot of anger and upset.  This is not to say I am blameless.... it is clear I made mistakes (and will continue to do so).

Third - take the long-range view.  Do you want a relationship with this person or not?  Is it worth the effort?  Real relationships are messy and difficult sometimes.  You have to decide and go with it.

In my case it is definitely worth it.      

The sadness is that the 'straw that broke the camel's back' was my attempt to interface with this person and do what they asked.

The sadness is that by not 'fighting fair', we are not in a 'cleared air' position.  I am sitting in a swamp of ......"hmm..... what do I do now?"  And I sincerely doubt that my person feels much better.

The sadness is that I cannot trust my instincts with this person.  The sadness is that now my two choices..... limit my exposure or move forward like nothing happened.... are both difficult.  For me - the best of 2 unhappy choices is to act like nothing happened..... and see what happens next!

I am glad that I did not hang up the phone because I was very close to it :-)  I am glad that by throwing all this at me makes my friend feel better.  Being a 'safe' receptacle for anger is something I CAN do to help.  But that is MY decision and I will not bring that up again.

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