How Do You Handle Confrontation?

wolfThere is something inherently wrong with my internal wiring. I can’t walk away from a confrontation. All the years of yoga and all the spirituality books I’ve read go right out the window when I’m staring into the face of a fight. I don’t know why. I think I like it. I can let the anger go, but I need to have the last word. It’s just that simple.

Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of hot-headed, opinionated, loud, but lovely people. Well, that’s not even true. Some of my relatives aren’t very nice. (And I’m not referring to my mother. Okay, ma? You can take a deep breath.)  See? Poison runs deep in my blood.

I’m especially confrontational when it comes to my children. When Noodge 2 was no more than 3 we were at the mall. She stopped to look at these colorful, fake aquariums. A young man working the kiosk patted her on the head to which I replied, “don’t touch my child.” We all know I skeeve everything. Especially some stranger’s hand near my kid. Had he just said, “sorry” that would have been the end of it. He decided instead to tell me to go do something to myself which I believe is impossible and possibly immoral.

I don’t like being spoken to that way about as much as I don’t like strangers within inches of my kids. I think I scared my sister Kiki because she tried to drag me away from the scene I was causing. But I had the last word.

I could bore you with a long list of times I grew out of my 5’1″ frame into a firebreathing, beast with long claws, a purple cloak and gold crown. (I didn’t want to be a dragon.) Like the time I was pretty sure I was going to have to knock over the old guy with a cane who told my 2  year-old daughter he loved her.

Recently, I had a run in with a neighbor. (Ironically, Noodge 2 was involved again. I’m noticing a pattern here.) I wanted so badly to send a scathing text message to her. Who was she to speak to me like that? No one tells me what to do. But I didn’t send the scathing text I so desperately wanted to. The Coffee King pleaded with me not to. “Trust me,” he said. I stormed out of the house quite certain my blood pressure was high enough to cause a stroke and chewing off the head of my meaningful husband like the firebreathing beast I repeatedly turn into.

Who did that woman think she was talking to me like that? I couldn’t let her get away with it. But I did. And I’m not happy about it. Not even now, even though I know it might be better to stay quiet. I should’ve said something. I should’ve had the last word.

Even when friends tell me stories about walking away from a situation without telling someone how they feel, I see it as letting someone get something over on you. You’re sister-in-law yells at your middle-school aged kids for having a different opinion than she does about something completely innocuous and you don’t say something? Not this girl.

Do we get to a point in our lives when we finally accept who we are without judgement?  I spent my twenties and thirties trying to tame my personality. Think first and speak later. Speaking without thinking isn’t right. No good can come from expressing every emotion I have. What does it solve by telling someone I think they’re an idiot except that I feel better? Why is it so important for me to have the last word?

How do you handle confrontation? Do you shy away from it? Or do you face it head on?


8 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Confrontation?

  1. Having witnessed your high-energy quest for justice a time or two, I can say it’s quite entertaining. That aside, I’ve been in that same place, Stacey. A couple of other friends of mine have, too. I tell them as I tell myself, “take off the cape.” It’s too exhausting to be such a crusader. But, have to tell you, my dear dear friend, if anybody’s ever picking on me, I sure as hell hope I’ve got you with me.

  2. My dear, dear, Marykate. You brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for accepting me as I am. Would you hold my cape for awhile? This way when I want it back I know where to get it? 😉

  3. I’m laughing ’cause once again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! However, I will say in our defense, we don’t “start’em we just “end’em”!! Of course, there are times when one must bite their tongue but attitudes and unwarranted opinions are just begging for a piece of the “beast”.

    Don’t forget we have our soft-side too. We’re lovable, huggy-kissie kind of people. The monster only surfaces when we are provoked. So, fear not, my daughter, the one thing that can be said about us is that people know where they stand. Which to me is far better than someone who is all
    smiles in front of your face but cutting you to ribbons behind your back.

    1. I have to agree with I’d rather know exactly where I stand with someone than deal with the person who talks behind my back. At least my cards are always on the table.

  4. It depends on the situation for me. If the person is angry, I walk away. They’ll get me angry and I’m no good like that. Leftover from my abusive upbringing. If there is no anger, I will call someone on something.

    1. Agreed. Don’t mess with my kids. Now that they’re bigger that kind of thing happens less. It’s usually a teacher I have to call and say, “really?”

  5. I could go in all kinds of directions with this, but I’ll keep it simple. I’ve learned to slow down and listen first. I won’t say the first thing that pops into my head, but I’ll work on it on my own until I have the answer I want. Then I decide how important it is for me to respond (as in when my director hinted she would consider replacing me if I didn’t add more hours–which I did NOT and I’m still there) or react (i.e., spout).

    Most of the time, it’s about control of a situation, episode, event, etc.

    My guiding questions:

    How important is it?

    Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?

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