Miscellaneous Thoughts On Confrontation

A friend of my recently casually mentioned that she was going to tell someone that the thing they did upset them.

Me: Woah. Really? I’m impressed. I avoid confrontations at all cost.
Them: Yeah, but I want to be able to stay friend with them so I feel like they should know. I would want to know.”

And this small conversation has gotten me thinking for days about confrontation and why people look at it so differently. I haven’t really parsed it all out yet but I think I’ve come to a few conclusions about myself. I have always known that my approach to confrontation is not the same as everyone else’s and I think I’m trying to sort that out.

Note: This is in regard to confrontations with anyone outside my husband/kids, we have confrontations every day because EVERY DAY SOMEONE IS LEAVING MAKEUP ALL OVER MY BATHROOM LIKE IT IS NOT A SHARED BATHROOM.

Damn Donnie and his lipsticks.

1. I don’t necessarily need to confront people if my feelings are hurt by something because I do let go of things pretty easily. A parent at Nikki’s school blocked me on Facebook once due to some pushback she got on an ignorant comment about the gay pride parade I was posting pictures from. But I still referred her to someone recently who was looking for a person in her field. I mean, I remember? But I don’t necessarily hold grudges. And I don’t even always remember. I might remember the feelings I had, but I don’t remember exactly what caused them. Like I can remember being really hurt by someone but not remembering exactly what they did/said so I don’t let the memory of that hurt keep me from interacting with them or being kind to them. It’s hard to be mean to someone when you can’t really remember what it was they did to you.

2.: I’m almost always taking some of the blame for the problem or conflict and so I don’t feel like confrontation is deserved. This is the crux. Confrontation seems like such a big deal, maybe not in other people’s words, but for me to be told I’ve done something wrong, or to tell someone I’ve done something wrong, that’s HUGE because it will ripple effect the entire day/week/month/life depending on the specific confrontation. So, in order for me to face someone and say, “I’m unhappy with this thing that happened,” then I have to really feel like none of that thing is my fault. AND EVERYTHING IS MY FAULT. So to me, putting someone through the pain of a confrontation is not worth it when I’m carrying some of the blame too.

3.: And what if my worst fear is realized and there’s something I’ve done that I am NOT EVEN AWARE OF. To me? That would be the biggest tragedy to find out I had done something to hurt someone and I did not even realize it. For example, let’s say I was really hurt that someone never returned any of my calls or emails or messages so I reached out to them and said, “You were/are one of my best friends! It’s really upsetting me that you don’t answer any of my attempts to reach out!” And they said, “Well, when my Dad died you didn’t do shit so…”

I WOULD BE SO DEVASTATED. So there’s a part of me that is terrified that the cause of any person’s bad behavior towards me, is actually something I’ve done and I’m already carrying SO MUCH SHAME for things that I know I’ve done, I DO NOT WANT TO ADD MORE.

4.: Confrontations hurt FOREVER. I may not remember exactly what someone did to me that one time I remember I was upset with them; but If they ever confronted me about something I did to them? I’ll replay it in my head FOREVER. I’ve mentioned before that I had a “SHIT ON ALL OF THE PEOPLE” phase in my early 20s and the pain from having all of my immaturity and assholeness thrown back in my face from those years haunts me to this day. So, approaching someone with something that has upset me? Is something I avoid because I don’t want them to suffer what I’ve suffered. WHICH IS DUMB because I would have never changed my life and turned in the better direction without the confrontation, BUT STILL. IT HURTS. And I don’t like being the person who hurts someone else, even if they hurt me first.

None of this is to say whether confrontations are inherently good or bad. I would never try to make a blanket statement like that because each conflict and the people involved are so different, but I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because over the last year I’ve been made aware of some things I’ve done to upset someone both through “She said that…” third-person conversations and through direction confrontation and ALL OF THE ABOVE has come into play. Especially number 3. I was made aware of a long list of things I’ve done wrong that I HAD NO IDEA. There’s a point to be made here that in some cases that’s because I did not actually do anything wrong, but the fact that I learned someone was hurt by things I did was devastating and upsetting and frustrating and I CAN NOT SHAKE THESE FEELINGS. Confrontations have NOT improved my life in this case AT ALL, they’ve disrupted my sleep and made it difficult to take down protective barriers I’ve now put up and the shame/hurt peppers a lot of my days.

Maybe I have only seen true good/change come out of confrontations that involve REAL SHITTY THINGS. There is a range of reasons to confront someone and say, “This thing you did upset me.” There’s the “You murdered my grandma!” end and the “You told Susan you didn’t like my new purse!” end of the spectrum and I feel like it’s only worth confronting people towards the “Murdered Grandma” end because that’s where there’s one true person at fault and one true victim and there’s no muddling of, “Yeah, but, you hurt me when…” type of conversations that taint the future.

But again, that’s just me because I HATE CONFRONTATIONS WITH EVERY OUNCE OF MY SOUL. So to get me to confront you I have to really know for sure you have done me wrong and that I don’t hold any simultaneous blame.

NOTE: I am still muddling this through and this is a very small tip of an iceberg of SHIT KIM HAS BEEN DEALING WITH THAT SHE CAN NOT BLOG ABOUT and so there’s a lot of raw nerve endings under this vague post and I don’t think I’m emotionally strong enough to handle the inevitable wonderfully-intentioned comments that I’ll still get my feelings hurts by because I’m a fragile f*cking flower. So, no open comments on this post because your comments will be lovely and perfect but I’ll totally find a way to get my feelings hurt anyway because MY FEELINGS HURT VERY EASILY LATELY BECAUSE I AM A BIG FREAKIN MESS.

3 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Thoughts On Confrontation

  1. Olivia says:

    Oh I feel for you fellow confrontation avoider. However I am passive aggressive instead which since being married nearly 3 years ago began to cause me problems. So my husband has been coaching me to say what is wrong (when it’s with him) as he finds it preferable to me sulking and making him guess.

    I have now begun using gentle confrontation with friends recently, and have been surprised by how it’s worked out. Including one with a best friend who kept hurting me. It’s not fixed it, but it’s helped me to work through my upset and not just be cross with her internally, which I think was making it even worse as she wasn’t guessing what I was upset with.

    So hope you can do some good thinking on it. For me it all stemmed for my parents sucky confrontation filled marriage. Go figure. Hugs.

  2. Olivia says:

    Hello, you don’t know me but I found my way to your blog from a mutual friend and after reading this post, I thought you might really enjoy this book called “Crucial Conversations” (tips for talking when the stakes are high). This book is all about how to calmly, effectively, and persuasively have a confrontation about uncomfortable topics with the least amount of hurt feelings. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon. It was very very worth it for me to read.

    https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Conversations-Talking-Stakes-Second/dp/1469266822

  3. I completely empathize/sympathize. I hate confrontation and I am not good at it.Some people thrive on it. I have learned to engage when necessary, but mostly via computer.I also accept guilt that isn’t mine, I have been working through this with a counselor and it has gotten easier to confront when necessary. I think its important to be sure to do it in private.As for your past wrongs. You need to learn to forgive yourself. It was 20 years ago and you have changed. Pat yourself on the back for that .

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