Conflict

Tomorrow I go see the therapist I have been talking to about emetophobia. In my last post on this subject I pointed out that I thought his theories on possible food sensitivities were bunk based on the large quantities of dairy and wheat I had eaten while experiencing less pain than I had felt in weeks. I also outlined some external stressors and mentioned that I needed to talk to him about the clear impact that a neighborhood conflict was having on the amount of pain I was experiencing. I laid it all out for him and he agreed that the food thing was making less sense. The conversation quickly turned to my aversion to conflict. Questions were brought up about whether it was conflict that was the problem or the way I manage anger. There were also some uncomfortable questions about how I deal with or avoid conflict in my marriage. In the end we settled into a discussion about learning to engage in conflict when it is appropriate and putting fear of consequences in perspective.

I was asked why I thought I had allowed my neighbor to walk over me in this situation. I pointed to a couple examples of her taking disputes she had had in town to extremes, and told him that I thought if I pushed the parking issue she would petition the town to ban parking on our street. I also told him that I live in a very small neighborhood where everybody got along until she moved in, and I didn’t want cause any waves. I mentioned that my wife had not wanted to give in so easily, but I had insisted we let it go. The doc expressed some doubt that she would try and get parking outlawed and suggested I let my wife handle it. He thought I could learn something about conflict by observing my wife in action. He also suggested that this may not be the right conflict for me to “practice” on.

I really didn’t want to let it go and as I drove home I began formulating a script in my head for what I intended to say. While doing this I realized that I needed to clarify a piece of the current ordinance to be sure I was on solid ground. When I poked my head into the code enforcement officer’s office and asked my question he gave me a puzzled look and asked what street I lived on. When I told him he said the ordinance committee was going to discuss closing the street to parking. He said a resident had submitted a letter and some photos of the street, and handed me a copy of the letter which was written by my neighbor. I was angry, but given the conversation I had just had with the doc I couldn’t help but laugh.

This development changed my plan entirely. I no longer wanted a conflict in the street, I would just handle it at the meeting. I knew that most if not all of our little neighborhood would be strongly opposed to this move and I also knew I could count on a few of them to show up at a public meeting. I studied the letter and pictures and wrote a response. I also went door to door on the street and let people know what was happening. As I suspected she had told no one what she was up to and nobody I talked to was happy about it.

When the meeting day came they had scheduled it to be in a small conference room. They weren’t expecting a crowd and it was standing room only, but there was a problem. She didn’t show up. The negative sentiment was expressed loudly and there will be no change on the street, but all I could do was shake my head. I had set up the perfect storm to rein her in, and she missed it. I am glad nothing was changed in the ordinance, but that conflict is still out there waiting to happen.

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3 thoughts on “Conflict

  1. Oh, isn’t THIS interesting. You’ve got yourself the ultimate passive aggressive neighbor. And, you did a really good job dealing with it. I’m just gonna comment ‘cuz you know I will. Here’s why proper confrontation is good and necessary: The thing that you were most afraid of happened anyway–she petitioned the city to change your parking ordinances, and she was sneaky about it. This exemplifies someone who also hates conflict, but she goes about it like a cornered animal as soon as she smells any sort of conflict so she overreacts, thus, the present situation. Others run and hide–avoidance behavior–as soon as they sense conflict. “Best not to rock the boat.” But, life isn’t like that. We have to learn to do conflict. Healthy confrontation gives you a lot of information about the kind of person your dealing with. And, your instincts were right on after your run-in with her. She’s an “overreactor” with a dose of malice. Now you know. Now you know what to do. In retrospect, could you have played that card for her and gone to the ordinance officer ahead of her? Asked to be notified if a request for parking changes on your street came in? After all, you know her “type” now. You can anticipate her behaviors and choices. And, the fact that she didn’t show up tells you a great deal about her, too. She’s afraid. She’s willing to make some bold moves, but she is NOT willing to own those choices. She’s a coward–she’ll get angry, ruminate, take measures to make her point, and then hide. The whole situation lets you know that 1) your instincts are really good 2) your anxiety is preventing you from engaging in creative problem-solving and 3) you probably are engaging in conflict avoidance. But, C, you and 99.9% of the population are doing that.

    Learning to do conflict is very hard, but it gets easier every time you do it. Truly…

    • I have a slightly different theory on her approach to conflict, I actually think she likes it, and simply believes that if something bothers her it should be changed. She appears to give no regard to whether or not what she wants will affect anybody else. She only seems to care about her circumstances. You are definitely correct about her approach though. She immediately goes for the nuclear option. I hear what you are saying about the need for constructive conflict. I hate it but I need to work on it. I need to take a debate class or something to get some practice.

  2. Tomorrow I go see the therapist I have been talking to about emetophobia. In my last post on this subject I pointed out that I thought his theories on possible food sensitivities were bunk based on the large quantities of dairy and wheat I had eaten while experiencing less pain than I had felt in weeks… I found your blog today while searching for information regarding Wellbutrin and Celexa and caffeine, among other things

    I have increasing anxiety and your posts and your friend’s posts remind me that I need to watch the caffeine.

    I have spent my life fighting allergies and chemical sensitivities.
    20 years ago I was given Xanax because my dr. knew he could get me off of it. One week later, we stood outside the pharmacy and I told my husband, I will die if I fill this perscription. Instead, we went to Allergy Associates of La Crosse, WI. Dr. Kroker… only. He correctly diagnosed the miriad of symptoms I had correctly and set me free. I get allergic to any thing I eat repeatedly… and will always feel “better” when I eat the offending food.

    http://www.allergy-solutions.com/AboutOurClinic/Staff/GeorgeKrokerMD.aspx

    The second resource who can help you sooner than you can get an appointment with Dr. Kroker, is my dear friend, Pastor Joe Abrahamson. Here is his blog.

    http://theabrahamsons.blogspot.com/

    We have learned first hand from Joe how under-diagnosed Celiac disease is and the myriad of symptoms it presents. He and his father have Celiac disease, as well as members of his congregation.

    Joe is blessed with an incredible skill-set and learns and remembers things with and almost photographic memory.

    But more importantly, he can empathize with your physical struggle and mental struggle – because his body is affected both ways if he doesn’t keep an rigid gluten-free diet.

    I hope this helps, and God bless and keep you!

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