I HATE confrontation. LOATHE it. DESPISE it. SCORN it. ABHOR it. Go ahead. Type the word "hate" into www.thesaurus.com and go crazy. I feel all those words about confrontation.
Now, let me clarify. Confrontation in my dictionary is any sort of conversation in which there is the slightest chance that the conversation could get uncomfortable. For example, I don't like to return things to the store. If I return something to the store, inevitably, the person might think that I bought it, wore it, and now am returning it as if this was the library. And they'll ask me that inevitable question: "Was there something wrong with it?" prompting me to have to find a polite, legitimate, qualifying explanation that won't insult their product.
Here's another example. And this one really happened today. I had an appointment for Britany. I got a reminder call yesterday telling me what time the appointment was. I'd been to this same office many times before with Peyton and I wasn't worried about making it on time because I knew exactly where it was. I pulled up, paid my 3 dollars in quarters for the parking meter and walked the block and a half into the office carrying my 11 pound child in her 10 pound car seat. When I got to the office, the receptionist cast me a sour glance and asked me what I wanted. I'm here for my appointment (obviously) She huffed and proceeded to explain that that was impossible seeing as there were no appointments scheduled for the day. When I told her there must be some mistake... I got a reminder call and everything.. she fumbled for her phone and passed me off to somebody else. (Thank God. Anyone would be in a better mood!) Another, much nicer woman came up to me and explained that my appointment was to be at their other office. Other office? I didn't even know there was another office. "Oh, well this office is closer to you so we thought you would like to go there instead." (Hmm. Oh you're good. Nice move "nice" lady. Make it look like you were doing me a favor....) Long story short, I was now too late to go over to said "closer office" and would have to be rescheduled. Catch was, they couldn't see me again until July. Classy, right? So yet another woman is called in to remedy "my mistake". She graciously pencils us in for the second week of April, then chidingly advises me to write myself a note so I won't make the same mistake twice.
Can I just defend myself here? I had no idea there was another office, let alone that my appointment was supposed to be at this other office! I don't even know where this other office IS! To top it all off, I've been taking Peyton to the office I was at for a year and a half and have never before been told that I was in the wrong office!!!
Anyway. Back to how much I hate confrontation.
Of course, I left fuming. I walked the block and a half back to my car, fumbled for my keys as I balanced the 21 pound child/car seat combo and cast a sideways glance at the meter that just wasted enough money for a tall Java Chip Frappacino. To top it all off, my knock off Louis Vuitton sunglasses got caught in my hair so I lost my dignity right along with my temper.
As soon as I got in the car I dialed Bryan and let out my frustration in a fury of tears and gibberish. Bryan (ever calm, cool, collected, rational Bryan) says, "Well, why don't you call and complain. They shouldn't be able to make you pay for their mistake of not telling you they had changed offices on you." My insides curdled (if that's possible) He wanted me to confront them. Noooo way. I gave him a lame excuse, "They already don't treat me that great there. I don't want to give them ANOTHER reason to be mean to me." (can I just pause here to pat myself on the back for another successful duck and cover?) He bought it and lovingly said, "I'll see you when you get home." A couple of hours later, my mom called. When I told her the story, she suggested the same thing. Call and complain. I offered her my slew of excuses as well. She didn't buy them quite as quickly, but eventually bit the bait. Our conversation turned to Peyton's latest happenings and the topic of confronting was put behind us. I breathed a sigh of relief and rationalized in my head why the things that had happened that day were perhaps, my fault? a system malfunction? a staff member's tragic death??... anything to release me from the justification of complaint--of confrontation.
Look, I realize that was a long story, but the truth of the matter is... I hate confrontation. And perhaps more than hate it, I fear it. I honestly don't know why. I suppose there is some root issue holding me back from learning to confront properly and healthily, but I couldn't put my finger on it if you asked me to.
I guess I wouldn't be so taken with this realization if it weren't for the fact that I'm not only fearful to confront store clerks, receptionists, and their managers, but I'm also fearful to confront friends, siblings, parents and even my spouse. Fighting with those closest to me is honestly often characterized by silence. I guess you could say, I brood. When I feel hurt, unappreciated, frustrated, etc. I hole up. I bury my emotions. I typically isolate myself for any length of time (typically no more than a few minutes) and then ignore the feelings I have and pretend as though nothing is wrong. It's easier to stuff my emotion. Easier than confronting.
Confrontation is messy. It's difficult. It's scary. But the scariest part is knowing that it is also good. And productive. Some of the best milestones in my relationships are the times when we stood up and confronted things--removing road blocks from our relationship and moving forward, more educated about how to love and communicate with one another. I know in my head that when confrontation is done correctly it can produce the purest, most loving relationships in existence. But something inside of me is still scared to death to implement it.
Again, I wish I could put my finger on what it is that scares me exactly. Why does it scare me so much that I am fearful to even attempt it with even a perfect stranger?
Just so you know, this isn't one of those posts that I'm going to close out with an "AHA!" moment that will leave you sitting and pondering my words long after you've read this post. Because this is a work in progress. I--me and confrontation, that is--am a work in progress. I am learning daily how to communicate with those I love in way that will help us move forward and navigate obstacles. I am starting with baby steps.
Bryan and I are reading the book "Love Talk" by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot. The book has some good advice for communcating as well as incredible individual work books that encourage us to dive deeper into what makes us communicate the way we do and how our individual personalities play a role in our daily communication. I am learning a lot about myself and a lot about my husband.
I still have a long way to go. But "a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." (-Lao Tzo) And perhaps conquering this fear of confrontation will be a step in the right direction of conquering my fears of almost everything else. (that will have to be another post entirely!
**images taken from Motivational Posters Online and MotiFake