How to Fight Nice
I wish there were classes on how to fight.
I'm not talking about debate in high school- but relationship fighting classes.
I have witnessed that people who are abusive don't think they are. They often just justify having a bad day.
Here are some examples:
A woman I know was attacked by her husband. Harmfully and violently. He went to jail for an extended time. Her friends and family did our best to rally around her in support.
In her healing journey- she turned to alcohol, suicidal tendencies and out lashes.
No one can blame her. I sure don't.
But in this abyss of pain she began to become demanding and controlling in her messages and texts.
"If you don't come over, I'm killing myself."
I wasn't baited. I called the police.
Another text said "You're too busy to be there for me! How dare you- F*** YOU!"
I replied "I get you are in pain. Your text is abusive. Don't justify your OWN abuse because you've been abused."
You see, when we are upset and in pain and in trauma- we can imagine we are in a boiling swamp of mud. It hurts.
But throwing the mud onto other people, dragging them into the muck so they suffer with you- isn't healthy friendship. It's damaging. It's abusive.
And MANY well intending friends will end up dragged into the mire because they don't know boundaries, and have compassion for their friends.
When we justify inflicting pain and saying cruel things because of our own pain- we are abusing.
Plain and simple.
Ask ANY abuser- if they feel like they were justified in their behavior- MOST of the time- they will answer "Well, I'm not saying what I did or said was OK- but I was simply pushed to the point of where I did what I did."
Recently, a friend of years of mine was upset about a post of mine on social media. She disagreed with my stance on a social issue. Not only did she publicly insult me on my page- but privately messaged me calling me out- attacking my character and using profanities.
She said "I'll meet you in person to hash this out face to face." Saying that IF I REALLY cared about her and our relationship- I would meet her.
This is control, manipulation, and yes.... ABUSE.
This week, a woman who I know who has been an opiate addict for as long as I can remember was texting random things and disjointed thoughts. I asked her refrain from texting me unless she was sober. This was a catalyst for her to fly into rage.
She began insulting me, my family, my children, my former spouse, my life choices from being a teenager... etc.
Over the years, I've experienced this same thing from her over and over. USUALLY, she doesn't remember anything she's said after the fact. Regularly, she is embarrassed later by the text or email proof of her misbehavior.
This is abuse.
Fights happen. Relationships between partners can have fights. BUT how you fight matters.
IF you are upset about curfew - discuss curfew.
If you are upset about someone spending too much on new shoes and forgetting to pay the light bill- discuss that and make a plan.
If you are upset about not having time together- discuss that.
Visualize two buckets of paint.
You and your friend, family, spouse, child, WHOEVER- each have a bucket of paint.
When arguments arise- you can throw paint on each other or you can create a new canvas.
Paint something together.
Each of you keeping your paint, (perspectives) both of you having equal say, and both of you free to create a new masterpiece and plan of how it will look.
Most abusers DON'T think they abuse.
MANY abusee's don't understand what abuse is.
OFTEN, they go to the meeting, they agree to things they don't want to, they keep quiet, walking on eggshells... just to keep the peace.
But as we learn to handle ISSUES and to have communication about what is or is not working- then we have the tools to create a lasting and powerful relationship and rise together to create something new.
One of the simplest questions I ask when I'm frustrated with someone or something is checking in with myself:
"Am I expecting something I'm not willing to give?"
"Am I upset because of my own insecurities?"
"Am I upset because I sold myself out by not holding a boundary?"
"Am I asking them to see MY way and be the way I think they SHOULD be?"
If I am genuinely upset over a bonafide issue- I'll address it.
Here's an example:
To my teen son, on being late for a pick-up in carpool.
"You are late. It's disrespectful to be late. When you are late, it makes me late to work and shows lack of consideration for me. When I am late, because of your actions- it effects my professionalism at work and my credibility to my staff when I expect them to be on time. If you are late again. I will leave you to find your own ride."
ISSUE discussed. NO conversations calling him lazy or rude or a bad son. Saying THIS is disrespectful; it shows lack of consideration- IS NOT the same as calling HIM DISRESPECTFUL or INCONSIDERATE. It's saying the behavior was.
ISSUE; EFFECT; RESULT.
This is the ISSUE.
This is the EFFECT from that issue.
Here is the RESULT of the choice you made.
He wasn't mad. I wasn't mad.
Frustrated yes. CLEAR- yes.
But issue resolved.
One of my favorite messages of advice I ever received about arguing was: "IT'S NOT WHO PROVES THEIR POINT, BUT WHO CAN WALK AWAY WITH DIGNITY - THAT IS THE WINNER." No one can own your dignity but you.
Relationships and friendships are gifts- NOT obligations.
EVERYONE has their own lives and is doing the BEST they can with it.
I wish there was a training for families and kids built into school systems that gave simple tools.
SOOOO many of us aren't learning this in our households and it's not being represented in our culture. We don't see leaders doing this- we see mudslinging and twitter bites at each other.
But as we share this small wise things we have learned and live a better way and lead a better way- hopefully the next generation will pick these tips up.
Perhaps we can shift the statistics of Domestic Violence, Divorce, and Suicide.
But, it's up to all of us.