Thursday, May 08, 2008

What to do, what to do?

Fussy wrote this great post about arguing in families and about explaining arguing to kids. It got me to thinking (yay for the internet!) about my own feelings about arguing and why I approach it that way and I was immediately moved to write.

The problem is, I'm having an argument with some relatives. They have requested that I not write here about particular things that make them uncomfortable. The resulting challenges are twofold. 1. The exact things they want me to clam up about are the same things that I really need to work through for my life to get better and the place I am/was finding myself best able to work (slowly, to be sure, ploddingly even and certainly messily but I assure you there was forward motion) was here and I've agreed not to do that any more. 2. Though specifics have been alluded to I find myself unable to gauge what will be deemed inappropriate and therefore unwilling to write about any parts of my life that touch on those relatives leaving great gaps in my own personal story.

It's at this point that the challenges sprout off into infinity. Do I stop blogging all together? Do I move from here and go somewhere that affords more anonymity? Do I say fuck it all and go back on my word? Do I try to have one of those "healing" conversations of which I am so very fond? Do I try ever so gingerly to navigate the waters without being eaten by sharks? Do I eat an entire gallon of ice cream topped with my tears of rage and sleep until I have an epiphany about how to fix this?

I do not know.

Let this serve to explain why my posting has lately in a number of ways.

In the meantime all I can say here about Fussy's post (which you really should read, I think it's lovely and deep though she writes as though it's completely off the cuff) is that off the top of my head I can think of one person who, when we argued, I never wanted to walk away from. It fascinated me. I am someone who has trouble thinking long term while in the moment of something emotional. I generally say something awful, whether it's true or not (usually it is, cuttingly, killingly true), or fail to say anything at all because I have no thoughts in my head just "AAAAAUUUUUUGH!!!!"* However, with this one person it didn't work like that. Somehow, even at my most enraged or humiliated or otherwise undone it felt better to stay in the room, to see how it all played out, it felt more likely that I would be able to form clear thoughts again if I stayed close than if I gave myself space. It was at once delightful and surreal. It wasn't pleasant, I'll never be one of those people who thrives on conflict, but it taught me so much about how different things could be. While exploring it, though, I find that it has to be different on both sides likely is that?

So, since I'm feeling hamstrung how about you guys do all the work for me. What's your preferred style of argument and how did you learn it?

*I'm well aware that some people find silence or shutting down to be an immature response in argument. You're entitled to your opinion, I just don't agree.


  1. Ooof. I have SO many thoughts about this. Being someone who is, herself, hamstrung in almost exactly the same way, I feel unqualified to offer anything helpful. Unless you want to guest-blog. I could set you up somewhere that the relatives would never find....

    As to how I argue? I tend to think through things A LOT before I open my mouth; I almost AWAYS walk away from volatile situations so I can come back later with a clearer head. I'm all about the language (gee, Chili - REALLY?!), so my arguments tend to be really wordy and verbose - when I want to talk something out, I TALK it out...

  2. Anonymous5:44 PM

    My first thought was to tell you that since your intent to blog about your family is to work through your shit, then you should do it. I want to think on it a bit though. K? Also, if you do blog, I think you should be honest about it with your family.

    I'm a talker. I think you know that. I have on occasion gotten so mad I had to walk away. I always come back though.

  3. Anonymous6:35 PM

    It's your blog, say what you want. If your relatives don't like it, they can skid the reading. At least its a way of communicating as opposed to ignoring the issues all together.

    It would probably be therapeutic for my family to discuss the issues. ChemE

  4. Tough one. I always do the what's the worst thing that could happen scenario-and if I can deal with it, I go for it. If I can't, I make other plans.

    So the question is can you deal with hurt and angry feelings or do you have to move? Go with your gut girl, but if you move, you better let me know.

    There are only about five people in the world who I will censor my work for-three live with me, one's a relative and the other is my employer.

  5. I need to talk. Two years of walking around a white elephant in a one bedroom apartment left me physically incapable of keeping my mouth shut. Or so I thought.

    Lately I have caught myself wanting to bolt midargument. It threw me.

    One of the main reasons I don't blog is to avoid having the wrong people read the wrong (right?) stuff because I am conflicted.

    1)Blogging is something you choose to do, which happens to be completely within your right. Reading is something they CHOOSE to do. Or perhaps should choose not to.
    2)Posting unfavorable things about other people makes me a bit skitchy. Which is why teacher blogs make me nervous. I can't quite figure out how much it matters to me that the stuff is presented in the context of YOUR story and what it means to YOU. It's not about THEM.

  6. Anonymous10:47 PM

    People don't have a right to ask you to not write about a topic that doesn't concern them - if they don't want to read about the topic, then they can stop reading.

    However, if "person A" doesn't want you to write about "person A," I think they have a right to ask you not to. You do a very good job of not using people's real names, etc., but that doesn't mean that your readers can't figure out who at least some of the people in question are. A blog is public. "person A" has a right to not want their private life made public.

    Perhaps, if you write a blog entry about someone that would rather have their story be private, you could have them OK the entry before you post it.

    Conversely, people survived before blogs. You can still write all you want, but just don't post the writings that would hurt others - and it's not what YOU would think is hurtful that matters, it's what "person a" would deem hurtful, if you are writing about "person a." (If it's important that someone else read your thoughts, you could write them in a letter to someone who either doesn't know "person a" or who is discreet enough to keep what you write private.)

    However, if the argument is about topics that your relatives don't like, but the topics aren't actually ABOUT your relatives, then you shouldn't feel constrained in your blogging, but you may still get into some arguments about it with your relatives.

    You could also write so obliquely that no one but you knows what you are writing about, but that may not be very satisfying.

  7. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I say you keep writing and they can skim it. Use different names and the like pretty much like you do now.

    In terms of arguing, I can sometimes bite in the heat of the moment. But I would say a higher percent of my dealing is to overthink what I am going to say and reflect on it before really letting it all out in the situation so I can get all my points out and understood about the situation.
    Also isn't there a way to lock certain posts? You could do that in a manor so they could not see it just open on the page...

  8. Does blogger allow you to password protect individual posts?

  9. I like the idea of password protecting some posts. As long as you give me the password. ;)

  10. Anonymous12:08 AM

    "Conversely, people survived before blogs."

    Oh yes, they did. Back then it was just "the family dirty secret, let's not talk about it". Well, shouts of joy. Now we can talk about it and what it meant to us as kids and what it means now and what it all means for the future.

    I tend to be a "let it simmer but then blurt it out type". BEW has the time to hear me blurt it out, listen, let it simmer, and then answer in a week or two.

    I want dialogue not snail mail. Let's talk, NOW! We go through this often one or the other if us is frustrated. I think and speak more from a proactive stance. BEW works more from a reactive stance but it can (and will) take weeks to gather and collect and ponder.

    Having said that it kind of works sometimes, but not often.

    I don't blog but I do read select blogs. For those of you that do blog, I would venture a guess that getting permission from the people you write aout beforehand (or talk with them about what may appear on your blog). would be a wise move. I'm no lawyer, this is just commen sense

    It is your blog, say what you need to say. Sure, you might piss some family members off but a blog is cheaper than therapy for the whole bunch.

    Keep blogging and I'll keep reading.

  11. Anonymous6:18 AM

    I'm all for talking things out (or not talking things out, if that is your need), but a blog, if it turns into a discussion, is not necessarily a discussion between the people that need to be discussing an issue. Some things written about in blogs will be considered private by others, and if they are blogged about, there could be hurt feelings. At least if you talk to someone face to face, or in a more private way, you are having an actual conversation with the person you need to be talking to, and without doing it in front of an audience, so if there are hurt feelings, they're at least private (which may help them to heal). Blog all you want about whatever you want, but it's always good in life to tread lightly on other people's feelings. Some people don't deserve that respect, but it rarely hurts to be too generous with respect.

    You are generally a very respectful, considerate person, so this really goes without saying. But being a private person myself, I had to put it out there. (But being private doesn't mean I believe in "family secrets" - private doesn't mean "don't talk about things.")

    Just thought I'd clarify. :-) You know me, I like to be understood. :-)

  12. I think venting about something is good for you, and especially where you can get feedback, because you can get another point of view. I'd suggest a message board where you can vent anonymously.

    I'm not one to condone arguing. Arguing, the tone, etc., often provokes people to argue back, not listen or shut down. To me, it's a stalemate. I don't run away from arguments, but I don't run into them because I don't find them helpful.

    When I'm presented with an argument I either shut down or argue back (depends on whom I'm dealing with).

    Discussions where emotions are low and both sides are listening are better. Expressing oneself to the other person directly is good. Timing and presentation are everything.

  13. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Nicely put, Kitty! I aim to always discuss, and not argue. Unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way! :-)