Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Conflict Resolved

For at least the past ten years one of my struggles has been how I handle interpersonal conflict. I'm often tempted not to handle it and/or let it eat away at me to the point that it's my primary focus. It's seemed odd to me that this is so difficult for me given that (1) most people regard me as a straight-shooter who calls it like it is and (2) I'm an attorney and have generally been happy to go to bat for others and with regard to non-inter-personal things like consumer issues, etc.

Over time I've realized that there are several obstacles between healthy conflict resolution and me. Carter pointed out one issue--some of my early attempts at handling some family matters blew up in my face and were very painful and disappointing, thus it's logical that I avoid it now. For years I struggled with the sadness associated with this conflict and finally dealt with it in college with the help of a therapist. At the end of therapy, I spoke with the family member about how difficult it had all been for me, and I was given the awful "I'm sorry you feel that way" line which basically just means "whatever." Needless to say that negative experience helped make me gun-shy.

I think another obstacle is my pride. I hate needing anyone, being vulnerable, and admitting that I may have (gasp!) illogical feelings. After all a dispute with AT&T over a phone bill isn't going to cause tears, pain, or require that I admit that I'm hurt--that you can hurt me.

So over the past few years, I've forced myself to tell people when they hurt my feelings. It's been challenging for me, but I think I'm so much better for it. And it's getting easier.

This latest conflict was something that I would have ignored in the past--and just resulted in me avoiding the offender, but given that I'm trying to live in Christian community and do unto others as I'd have them do unto me (and Lord knows, I hurt people's feelings without realizing it and need to be told so I can avoid it in the future), I confronted him about his unacceptable behavior. We had a good conversation, and he took complete responsibility for his actions (and even contacted my friends who were there to discuss it with them) and asked for my forgiveness. So now I've yet another positive experience with conflict resolution.

In other news, we had a fun Halloween party on our roof last week complete with a fire. Not many people get to have fires on their roof:) Here's my best pirate face. Unfortunately the roof was too cold to wear my pirate skirt (and really do pirates wear skirts?). I also drank my very first po'mosa (poor man's mimosa--Miller High Life & orange juice....and surprisingly not bad, particularly since I hate beer). Saturday was a trip to Nashville with friends to see William Fitzsimmons in concert, play frisbee in the park with Brian, and have dinner (and yummy mojitos) at Rumba with Isabella and Chasie. Fun, fun, fun!
p.s. I'm thankful that my boss offered to let me stay at his mountain cabin (complete with a waterfall in the backyard!) this weekend.


jennifer said...

a)That rooftop looks awesome! b)Love the po'mosa concept. c)I'm glad the confrontation went so well! That was brave. :)

Kimberly said...

I'm reading a book right now called "speaking the truth in love: how to be an assertive christian." it is really helpful in pointing out the ways that I rationalize my conflict avoidance but in reality it's a refusal to be authentic and live in community with people. So...I'm working on it. Thanks for sharing that story. Cute pirate :)

TC said...

Wow, I'm impressed. Good for you! I think a lot of us could benefit from this direct approach :)

Pam said...

I tend to be such a wuss at confronting people. I think I've gotten a bit better about it over the years and try to speak up about things that bother me. Still, my "I don't want to be bother to anyone no matter how much I hurt" attitude rears its head at times.

Jennifer said...

I've heard it said before that conflict + resolution = intimacy. Meaning that when there is conflict and we take the steps to resolve those issues, we end up being closer to the other person when it's all said and done. How redeeming to have good results after resolving your conflicts. That speaks highly of your character.

Your pictures were fun - loved the costume. And I hate beer too, so I wonder if I'd like the po-mosa? Hm...

Ys said...

Well done for getting it done. I'm always a wimp when it comes to confrontations but when something really does upset me I find it hard to just walk away.

Your priate outfit is so cute! I am envious of your roof fire!

Scotty said...

Glad everything worked out!

Po'mosa? I may have to try it out. +2 points for good pirate face.

ella said...

Who did you spend the weekend in the mountain cabin with? ;P

Ally said...

Jennifer: You should at least try it--you never know.

Kimberly: That book sounds like something worth reading. I've realized that my avoidance of conflict is often selfish--I'm valuing my comfort and peace and relationship with the person more than the actual person.

Ella: I'm going tomorrow, and a (girl) friend is joining me for one night. Nothing too exciting:)

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Personally I am proud of you for taking a is so hard to do and I so understand where you're coming from as I would often rather let things go then have a conflict. Invariably the more you stand up for yourself, however, the better boundaries you create!

Anonymous said...

I hate conflict. I usually think I'm strong and it would just be easier for me to absorb the hurt/pain that was caused than to bring it up and deal with that face to face contact. Does that make me a hypocrite or farse?

I've gotta try Rumba...I've looked at their online menu before but need to actually GO.

Anonymous said...

i also hate conflict and it is something i've tried my whole life to avoid. but like you i've realized confronting it is always better in the end. glad you have been able to find your way...

Anonymous said...

Well done Ally!

Y'know before I 'gave my heart to The Lord' all those years ago, I used to think born-again Christians had it easy. No problems whatsoever.

Then I actually became one and wouldn't you know it? After the initial euphoria of becoming a Christian had worn off, I found myself constantly being tested and forced to confront the very things I had tried to avoid.

Spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness much?

The entire first year I was a Christian was spent cleaning up messes of years past, forgiving everyone who'd ever hurt me and repenting over and over and over.

That's how God grows us Ally. Just as gold is refined in the fire, so are we.

I also wanted to let you know that Boy Wonder gave his heart to Jesus at church this morning. It's been our spiritual home for a long time and Boy Wonder is beloved (and recognized for the miracle that he is) by everyone. There was not a dry eye in the house - that includes our Senior Pastor who said The Sinner's Prayer with him.

And here I was last week worrying myself sick about an earthly father for my kid. Your words on my post were such a comfort.

You know you're my sister in Christ, right?

Bless you.

Ally said...

Kylie: Thank you so much for this comment; I am so glad to be your sister in Christ. It was such a welcomed note to begin my day. Praise God for BW's acceptance of Christ as his savior.

And you're right, being a Christian calls us to do so many hard things but that process refines us and helps us become more like Him.