I wasn’t nice to my brother’s girlfriend. She was 17, and he was 20, and I was jaded by the string of girls he brought along before and thought “it’s not like he’s going to marry this girl,” and so I gave her the cold-shoulder. And then he married her. And boy was that awkward for awhile (like, even now, 8 years and a sorta-divorce later). I didn’t have the decency to treat her nicely at the beginning, though, deep down, I have a pocketful of reasons to give in defense of my bad behavior, if it’s ever necessary. What I learned from that experience, was my relatively shitty inability to articulate my feelings in the moment, which could have saved years of conflict down the road.
All of this was brought up in my mind, yesterday, when I was chatting with my bestie Ruth about a conflicted experience she had recently. In my brilliant wisdom (sarcasm? maybe?) I reminded her that emotions are stored on one side of the brain, and language on the other, and that sometimes it’s hard to get the language and emotions to match up nicely and to be able to articulate all those fee-fees that you’re having. Not to mention, it’s fucking awkward to confront someone, regardless, because very few of us were taught how to do this type of communication in our formative years (and as adults, do we really want to risk losing relationships if the conflict goes badly?).
It’s reminiscent of the “forever hold your peace,” line they say in movie weddings (because, that’s not a real wedding thing…right?). But you know what, this ‘forever hold your peace,’ shit is pretty fucking hard when you’re someone who has lots of opinions and thoughts and wants things to be logical.
I don’t like things that feel incongruent. I have a hard time when I see people say one thing and then do something else. I have a hard time when things don’t seem to add up or make sense, at least on some level. When I sense these mixed messages, I feel confused, and frustrated, while also unable to articulate my feelings in a way that doesn’t seem rude or attacking because it’s hard to verbalize frustration with unspoken energy actions. Does that even make remote sense?
I’m good with conflict in the moment, when I feel something and am able to say, “I’m annoyed,” or “I’m feeling uncomfortable.” What I have a hard time with, is feeling annoyed or uncomfortable with something, brushing it off as ‘no big deal,’ and then having something else happen, and something else, and something else, until finally I’m at the point where I’m unfriending them on facebook (true story: hi sis!) and they’re like “um, wtf just happened?” If I had just told my sister that I was annoyed with her inconsistent love and open acceptance paired with terribly racist retweets on facebook, the first time it happened, maybe I wouldn’t have been so far down the line that I either wanted to shut down (or cut off) or scream and throw things.
So I’m stuck in this dilemma and I don’t know what to do, how to change, to be a different person. It feels unfair to bring up conflict or frustration over something that happened six months, two years, ten years, ago, especially when realized that is bottled up and I might not be able to say it in a nice way. And yet, I feel like trying to live in the ‘forever hold your peace,’ camp is eating away at me. And I would feel shitty, too, if a friend came to me six months later, I might be like “why didn’t you tell me when this happened? Why did you pretend everything was okay?”
What to do?
Because avoiding it is only adding to the pressure, and I don’t want to be a fucking psycho, you know?