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Lovers & Fighters

I saw this blog yesterday and like blogs often do, it really struck a chord in me.

 If I had a dime for every time the misses and I got into a heated debate or argument or whatever passes for verbal combat then I would have a lot of dimes, much more than I would care to have. And there are times when sparks are flying that all kinds of bombshells are dropping and things will be brought up that are totally out of left field. Sometimes nerves are rubbed raw and emotions bubble up to the surface from seriously dark depths. And after the argument reaches is climax, slowly things start to subside. It might take a while to unload some adrenaline. Sometimes it takes a little time to push away bad feelings. But ultimately we are able to put everything back into perspective and move on. We’re trying to raise a kid and maintain a commitment to each other. We don’t have much of a choice. Besides, the value of our relationship is worth more than these arguments. I have to admit, she’s much better at it than I.

Brotherpeacemaker is talking about his relationship with his spouse and a somewhat rhetorical argument with a fellow blogger. It just so happened that the day before I saw this, I got into an argument with someone I care very deeply for, and I’m still confused and disoriented by it. I’m not sure what happened on his end, but my agent orange kicked in. By Agent Orange, I’m only partly talking about the ‘dissociative flashback episodes’ experienced by war veterans, in which ‘the traumatic event is persistently  re-experienced’. Of course, for me it’s not a literal experience as a military veteran, but more of a pop culture reference (see # 10 in Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter). I was in a relationship for a very long time with someone who was emotionally abusive. I realized far too late that the relationship had become a war zone. In the 15 months since that relationship ended, I’ve realized that my ex’s emotional manipulation had a much bigger impact on me than I’d have thought possible.

.. broke down into an argument complete with personal accusations and counter accusations.  More than ready to give with each take, I have to admit I was doing my part to ratchet up the rhetoric with each reply.  I’m a this and this?  Well you’re a that and that.  I’m a what and what?  Well you’re a such and such. Back and forth the replies flew for more than just a few days before reason kicked in and all further hostilities were neutralized…

So my friend and I have different opinions about certain aspect of housetraining dogs. I felt like he wasn’t giving me an opportunity to talk, and I asked him not to talk over me. He said he had still been talking and I had interrupted… so I stopped trying to interject, and waited for him to finish. We had been talking about dog training, but he ended his argument with several statements about my time management… or lack thereof. Now, this is an area I know I struggle with, so I tried not to take that personally… But I was still frustrated that the conversation was being derailed from dog training to a personal critique.  Then, he announced that he was going to get some sleep… and I became more frustrated.  I felt I had been hearing him out and letting him have his say, per his request, and he knew I was waiting for “my turn” to talk? So he invited me to go ahead with what I wanted to say.  I tried state my position and he interrupted me a couple times to tell me I was talking gibberish, that what I was saying was ridiculous, and finally, that I would be laughed at by any veterinarian.  When I told him that I found his personal criticism hurtful or offensive (I can’t remember the exact phrase I used), he persisted with what I felt were personal insults.

It would have been nice for me to say that it was I who snapped into something that resembled reason and was able to step back from the precipice of mutually assured derision.  But I was too caught up in the argument to let wisdom and good sense kick in.  I was wasting my time and energy, waiting for a response so I could use a line I just so happened to have spent the last hour or two trying to conjure up.  It was the wise Asabagna who managed to pull the fuses out our explosives.  And when the smoke cleared and I could once again see the landscape, in the end I had to admit that the argument really changed nothing, convinced nobody of anything and the whole debate was pointless and useless and for naught except the satisfaction and defense of ego.

I was shocked and hurt… I felt like the arguement and his opinion was more important to him than my feelings. We’ve disagreed about a few things here and there, and once or twice I felt he wasn’t fully open to my point of view, but I’d never felt like he dismissed my opinion out of hand. In fact, just four hours earlier I’d been in the car thinking about how I didn’t think I’d ever had such an emotionally intimate relationship with a man, and how much he valued my thoughts… having told me on more than one occasion that when he’s come to me about something that was stressing him, and he could always depend on me to look at it and give him a logical and calming perspective. This man had never spoken to me disrespectfully before… we had started out stating our individual opinions, and suddenly we were “fighting dirty” with personal insults. I was totally crushed and about to cry, and that’s when I  panicked. 

When he pulled the trigger on his neutralizer he wrote that even though he and I don’t always agree on points of view, he respects my decision to disagree with him.  It’s not about convincing each other who is right and who is wrong.  We are free to be.  And when a discussion becomes a heated debate between the two of us, we don’t have to devolve into personal attacks.  Especially when we know we need each other, if not for anything else, just to know we are not in this thing we call life alone.

Among the various baggage from my past is my ex’s habit of dismissing and ridiculing just about any opinion that differed from his… although later if a man expressed the same opinion, he’d suddenly have a change of heart. When he didn’t get what he wanted from me, he would become insulting and disrespectful. Like many women, I cry not only when I’m sad or hurt, but also when I am extremely frustrated. And tears from me would send my ex into a fresh tirade of insults… so my instinct in that moment where I felt personally attacked, was GET AWAY BEFORE THE CRYING STARTED. He was talking and I tried to break in twice, saying that I couldn’t talk about this anymore… I’m not sure if he heard me before I said, “I have to go” and ended the call.

Because I know we don’t see eye to eye on everything but I don’t feel like Asabagna makes his points by attacking me or my character.  And even though I often think he’s wrong, a lot more often than he thinks, I know he is honest in his opinion and doesn’t hold scorn on others who see things from a different perspective.  Asabagna is a police officer and is much more supportive of police than I.  But considering his experience with being a police officer I have to admit, that when it comes to the subject of police interaction and the black community, I realize that I will benefit if I listen to him.  I might not agree with his perspective.  But I cannot simply dismiss it as inconsequential either.

I took a couple sobbing breaths, and called back… because I knew that he probably had no idea what was happening on my end of the phone, and I don’t want to carry old baggage into my relationship with him. I didn’t expect him to answer, and when he didn’t, I left a message. I said I was sorry for ending the call abruptly, and tried to explain how hurt I’d been by his words… that he was entitled to his opinion, but not to insult me. Especially with as many times as he’s admired my logical approach to issues.

In the end of all of this, I learned that the respect that I have for Asa is mutual.  When I was starting to think that this epitome of dysfunction called the black community can go straight to hell and I don’t need this crap, it was Asabagna that reminded me that although we argue we should be able to put that behind us for a bigger purpose. 

I knew he was traveling the next day, and tried to reach him the next morning to wish him a safe trip, and to let him know that even though I was upset with him, I still cared about him. I guess I also needed reassurance of the same from him… seeing as my ex would withdraw from me in a sort of emotional blackmail. Over the next two days, I left several messages… all saying basically that I was hurt and confused by his silence, and I didn’t want to make assumptions about what was going on with him, but if he was breaking things off or just needed a couple days to think, just let me know… call, email, text, whatever… but that I needed to know that he and his family were OK. When I finally got a phone call, his first words were to ask if I was calm now. About the dog arguement? I had calmed down from the heat of that in about 15 seconds. It was a silly, stupid arguement, and neither of us were right (although I of course think I was less wrong than he was). He said that he wasn’t calling to fight, he just wanted to say hi, let me know he was OK that he’d just needed a couple days to think things over. But that stings as much as the arguement. How could he not know how much it would hurt me for him to cut all communication like that, how could he not know how much I would worry… and why wasn’t my care and concern worth the time it would have taken to send me a text message?

But getting back to the misses!  Although we might argue like a cat and a dog, to the world, we are one.  I know I can count on her to have my back.  She knows she can do the same with me.  We might not always agree.  We might not always agree to disagree.  But I know in the end that when I need her to be there, when she sees that I need help, she will be there. 

And I don’t know what conclusions he came to while he was thinking things over, but I only have more questions.  The biggest one being, can we get back to that place of trusting each other to always be there… as friends or lovers?

via Asabagna The Peacemaker « brotherpeacemaker.

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