How many times have you been in a situation where you got a call, text or a letter and were blindsided by someone and couldn’t think of the perfect response until later when you had calmed down and were able to re-engage the brain? In the moment, you recoiled or just stood there dumbfounded, not knowing how to respond to their putting you in a corner. How many times have you left an encounter or hung up the phone, only to have the perfect retort come to you five minutes later?
Well, growing up as a girl when I did, where I did, in the culture I did, and with a mother who could cut me down with a single lash of her tongue, I did not have permission to speak out or to speak up for myself in any way. During the 60’s and early 70’s, it wasn’t nice to say this or be assertive. No one will want to marry you. You must be “nice.” To this day, I hate the word nice because of the connotations I associate with it.
Because of this, when in a confrontational situation, my go-to reaction is often to become a doormat. I’m still working on it.
A few days ago, I had one of these encounters; not in person, but through e-mail. At the time, after I sent a lame response, I got mad. No. I got pissed. Pissed that I just rolled over. Pissed that the person I was corresponding with didn’t see the world the way I do. Pissed because I want this person to “get it” the way I do, and they don’t. And pissed because I thought I knew this person better than I really do. Bit by bit, they are showing their true colors to me, and they are disappointing. Very disappointing.
So, how did I handle it after I rolled over and played dead? I crafted several carefully worded replies in my head and never deliver them. Well, at least not yet. I will at some point, when I reach the point in our relationship when it doesn’t matter if they get mad and choose to never have anything to do with me again (because that is very likely to happen). For now, with this one person, I still need them in my life.
Sitting and thinking about the whole situation, even though I’m not pleased with how I still tend to roll over instead of standing up for myself in some situations (not all situations!), one thing I gleaned is my ability to think in multiple levels about something, virtually at the same time. My brain is fast! That’s one of the things about this person that I got wrong. They don’t and likely can’t do this. I can look at something from ten different angles, inside out, upside down, and sideways in a matter of nanoseconds. Another thing I am seeing very clearly is my assumptions about this individual. I thought that because they are extremely talented in one area of their life, it would extend to other areas. It doesn’t. My 13-year-old son is more capable in a lot of ways than this adult.
And my big disappointment is really two-fold. One: that I misjudged this person. And two: that I’m not standing up for myself… at least not yet. It will happen in due time.