Unbreakable's Pearls of Wisdom...

...and Foolish Mutterings


Down the rabbit hole, Texas,
December 06


MAY 11, 2012 6:05PM

Laying Down the Gloves

Rate: 39 Flag

I grew up in a household that was angry. Angry all the time, and then angry some more. Happy was not a term that was bandied about freely in my childhood. But, by golly, those folks of mine sure did like to argue. My parents had honed arguing to a fine art and they weren't shy about letting any one of those multitude of disagreements spill over into a full-blown fight - what we here in Texas like to refer to as a "knock-down, drag-out."

I remember a time my mother threw a suitcase at my father. Seriously - a suitcase. Who throws a suitcase? My mother, that's who. Maybe she had exhausted all the more acceptable articles at her disposal - the ashtrays, vases, glasses, knick-knacks. I don't really remember, but I do remember that hard shelled, god-awful blue-green suitcase sailing through the air and landing... I can't be sure here, as my memory goes a bit foggy in bits and pieces, but I'm fairly certain that suitcase/missile landed on the wall behind my father. I know he didn't just stand there and let it hit him, so the wall is a safe bet.

But, I digress. Back to that angry household; the one with all the blowups, bickering and outright brawls. One would think that having lived through all that acrimony and turmoil, I would run at the first faint whiff of a disagreement, let alone a full-blown argument. Yes, one would think.

It has taken me all of fifty-four years to come to the realization that I am not obliged to attend every argument to which I am invited; and I get invited to a lot of arguments. More than my fair share, I think. Some time during the last year, I had a revelation of sorts regarding my presence at dustups, debates, disputes and disagreements.

My presence IS NOT required. As they say, 'I have no dog in this fight,' and even if I did, I still don't have to attend. I can simply shut my mouth and walk away; or better still, I can choose not to open my mouth to begin with. And all those online arguments? Ha! Double ha! My revelation broadened, my understanding deepened, and I began to simply stop participating in all the ruckus.

It happened just the other day. I posted a link on Facebook to which certain of my acquaintences took great umbrage. A long, impassioned comment appeared under the link I had posted. This wordy, indignant commenter had a lot to say, all of it in a confrontational tone which was clearly designed to elicit a strong response from me. The writer certainly had a bone to pick with me.

Okay, fine, I'll admit that I stewed about it for longer than I should have. I composed several snarky retorts (in my head only, though; my thoughts never wended their way down to my fingertips, never made their way on to the keyboard.) Ultimately, though, I declined her invitation to verbally spar. I blithely deleted her comment and then, with a few swift strokes, unfriended her, thereby ending the possibility of a second, more insistent invitation to HER argument.

You may be asking yourself, 'what's the big deal?' And I do have an answer for you. Were you so inclined to read back through some of my earlier posts, you might notice a certain combativeness, a tendency to jump into battle with the slightest provocation and a well-honed talent for verbal shredding. Bickering and I have a long, well-established history. I have always been of the opinion that EVERYONE is entitled to my opinion. I have never been above believing that, if necessary, I would gladly beat my detractors into submission - with words, people, with WORDS.

Maybe maturity is creeping up on me, or possibly I'm just mellowing, but I no longer feel the need to verbally club someone in an attempt to make them believe as I do. Or maybe it just takes more energy than I'm willing to muster.

 I prefer to think that I have reached a place in life where I am comfortable in my beliefs; a place where I don't find it necessary to defend, explain or justify everything I say (or write.) More importantly, I am happy to let others have their beliefs, while I hold on to mine, and hope that we can agree to focus on our similarities rather than our differences.

 All things considered, it's not a bad place to be.

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My childhood circumstances were pretty similar and for a long time I would dive into confrontational situations and try to put all the wrongs right.

Like you, not any more now. I haven't the time or energy even if anger still gurgles under the surface. A dry comment or a bit of sarcasm are good diffusers, but on the whole I think the confidence that comes with age helps us see the bigger pictures.
Very well said, Linda. You and I are completely on the same page.
WOW! What a very pleasant surprise. I’m happy to see you around again. How are things in the Rabbit Hole, TX?

Good for you. Constructive debates are wonderful, but arguing in the manner you wrote of is not healthy for anyone (especially if suitcases are launched :- ); at our age, "knock-down, drag-outs" are not only unnecessary, it is truly life-limiting.

You, lady, are a testament to effort, effort to overcome hurdles, of which I believe, in my recollection of reading your posts, you have been handed many.

There is nobility in walking away, or maintaining a “level head” in the heat of arguments.
Ah, Boomer, I have always loved your comments and this one is no exception. You put a smile on my face. Thank you, my friend!
Fighting takes too much energy. I'm trying to live the golden rule and use reasoned discourse. My family fought, too. I want to forget the details. Best of luck with the life change.
I love the phrase "verbally club someone". That absolutely nails it.
I love the phrase "verbally club someone". That absolutely nails it.
I love the phrase "verbally club someone". That absolutely nails it.
What a relief! I've been worried for over a year that you would find that comment I made on one of your posts, become enraged and launch a counteroffensive. Fortunately I've forgotten which post and what I said in the comment, so you couldn't even beat it out of me. Glad you're finding mellow, Kim.
i'm with you, kim. and i think it is about getting older and wiser, at least it is for me. i've also learned that the people who want to argue with you online just *want to argue*, and it doesn't matter what it's about or who's right or wrong - mostly it's about who has more friends (and, boy, do i use that word loosely) who will weigh in. bah. such juvenile crap. i'd rather read an interesting article or -- wait! -- eat migas and drink margaritas with a real friend!! xoxo
I really enjoyed your post. Even though I didn't grow up in a fighting family, I identify with where you've ended up. I always told my kids to pick their battles. I don't know if it's age or that I've already picked all of mine, but very few seem worth it anymore.
i notice it, and it is good and well..

'I began to simply stop participating in all the ruckus. '

believe it or not, this indifference will someday make you a player
in th e ruckus again..but only if u are serious
about indifference..not easy..

it is good indeed to be here:

"place in life where I am comfortable in my beliefs; a place where I don't find it necessary to defend, explain or justify everything I say (or write.) More importantly, I am happy to let others have their beliefs, while I hold on to mine, and hope that we can agree to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. '

AN D the next step is to speak from Authority, i have found.
difficult, what with all those beliefs
out there we gotta

and..incorportate into our calm.
Good to see you back in here my friend and I hope you have recovered from your Nawlins adventures. As for your attitude towards all the dust-ups on Social Media sites, well I couldn't agree more, but then ya knew that didn't ya.
I'm not taking you on in a chat room brawl. You're too good a writer. R
I don't have those fighting relatives anymore. It was no way to grow up, that's for sure. xo ~r
Written in an appealing, conversational tone by a former battler. I hope you pick up the gloves only rarely in the future. It is a better life.

I think that the problem arises here: we all tend to mistake our opinions for facts.
It took some courage to write this for the world to see. If I could summarize, it's a lesson I have also had to learn--don't give the sons of bitches free rent in your mind:)
Well said.

I grew up in similar circumstances. I give on on anger.
I turn my back.
Good for you deleting the comment. I would have done the same thing.
Yup, I know that household you grew up in and it is exhausting to be constantly exposed to that, and you know, many of us got used to that as normal. For years I was seriously prone to impulsive angry action, now in situations stirring anger, I try and weigh things carefully. There are definitely times to be angry but if it is just a battle to trump the other for who is right, I'm out of there. There comes a time when it's just not worth it and we realize where we'd rather put our energies. Though I don't mind letting the other person first know ...

I don't bow out 'cause I think they're right but because I don't want to fight. And there's a big difference.
Phyllis - fighting does take a lot of energy, but it's the constant anger that's so draining. I'm feeling much lighter now.

Laura - It's an art... ;-)

Chicken Man - mellow is good. Of course the world is left with one less Superhero, but hey.... whadya gonna do?

candace - migas and margaritas - amen to that, my friend!

jls - I always told my husband to pick his battles and then I picked every one I could find. Sheesh.

James - it does get a bit tricky, doesn't it?

David - still recovering from Nawlins, but it did help add to the calm... :-)

Gerald - not to worry, you're safe. I've given up chat room brawling.

Joan - it's that whole 'that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger' thing...

Brassawe - we all tend to mistake our opinions for facts. wise words, my friend, wise words

John - I like that - great for a new mantra!

Mission - I'm learning... slowly, but I'm learning.

Scarlett - exactly!
Wonderful thoughts, Kim. I agree with your ideas - life is too short to waste it being angry. Besides, one uses up more facial muscles to frown than one does to smile. :o)
Fusun - so true. It's amazing what we accept as normal growing up only to realize later in life that it's anything but normal.
UB : Quite a write ! Sounds like maturity to me, but you have always been mature...so maybe more like wisdom!!!
No...you have always been wise too.
Hummmm..........well....a lot less painful works too.
Blowing it off is the first step.

There may be another step or two.

Depending on whether you can just 'defrend' the person.
JD - you think I'm wise AND mature? Aww, JD, I love you.
Nick - so nice to see you! Oh and that "defriending" thing? I had that down pat wayyy before Facebook came along. I try to be a little more judicious with it now.
Your last paragraphs sum it up--I am getting to that place too, and just in time. Great to read this.
Hi Sophie! Good to see you here. And good for you! I think we've all earned our place of peace, don't you? It's time.
Laying down the gloves ... definitely the sign of a confident and mature person ... one who knows to pick only the battles worth the fight.

Good for you, Kim!

And ... dear friend ... it is just wonderful to see you back here again. And always the wonderful writer too!
Thank you, dear Kate. You always have such words of encouragement. I really appreciate you.
Hope this is an excerpt from your autobiography! Love reading you! Rated
Thank you, Diva. I can feel my head swelling as we speak.
go. you. I hope to attain that sense of done.

every even slightly snippy word is a golden invitation for me to 'make it all better' ...except of course when I'm the one holding the matches.
I make myself gag....or wish I had a gag.
I loved this. So glad you can arrive at a mature/mellow place ; that you're comfortable in your beliefs with no need to thrash it out anymore.
Wish I was.
I think my family was the opposite. Nothing said. Everything had to be deciphered or inferred. Imagined, even.
As awful as it is, there's something to be said for people speaking/yelling their minds, I think.
Different kinds of crazy, maybe.
You're a survivor, Kim. Thanks for this.
I didn't have quite the harrowing upbringing as you unbreakable, but on OS I've tended to shy away from the blogs with an excess of ad hominems. Fortunately there aren't that many, by Internet standards. I do enjoy extended give and takes if conducted civilly. At least on OS that isn't an uncommon occurrence. While shrillness and unflinching partisanship have infiltrated, they have by no means taken over. There is enough of a critical mass who appreciate civil discussion that surely you can satisfy yourself in that sphere while only dabbling in the rabble when the mood strikes you.
It certainly is the season for the combative ones to flood comments with words of challenge...I am a big fat heinous sinful morally corrupt liberal in a family of stark arrogant sometimes shrill conservatives. I have done precisely what you have done and I don't feel dissatisfied with my choice.

My Grandpa told me many, many, anyway sometime about 3/4 of a century ago, that the surest way to start an argument was to say that and nothing else. Hell I use to use it just to shut people up in mid- sentence whether they were lying or not. They would become flustered and pause and then start defending everything they could think of because they had no idea what they were being accused of lying on. Do it in a crowd of people then everything they have said in their lifetime becomes suspect.
Older your a prick, I know I have been told that. But confrontation between individuals is good when it is used constructively. Publicly confronting someone when your opinion is just as suspect or blatantly false makes you look like an idiot also. You want to sell me something you had better know more about your product than I do. Just ask my wife she'll tell you. Great post Unbreakable.......o/e r*****
It sounds like a good place to be. I used to think I had to respond to critics. And sometimes, I admit, I feel impelled to. Some people are simply combative. When an entire family is like that, the results can be destructive.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I used to write with a child psychologist (he was a grown up) who said confrontations are like a dance. Just because someone extends the invitation to dance doesn't mean you have to take them up on it. You always get to decide who you dance with. /R
I grew up with fighters, too. It used to rip at my soul. So I learned to spar verbally and was especially adept at sarcasm. It took a very long time, but one day I woke up and tried to count the number of times my verbal assaults changed the thinking of my targets. It wasn't hard to get up to zero. Now I state my position once, without attacking anyone -- just my position. After that, I'm on to other things. (Most of the time, anyway. :D)

Good for you! I have found a mellower place in the last few years, but I'm still bad.

Love this:
"I have always been of the opinion that EVERYONE is entitled to my opinion. "

hahahahah...me too. only I won't battle you, I'll just argue you to death and then beat you back to the living. I am a tireless missionary.

great post!
I walk away from arguments because the end results are almost always the same. Avoiding conflicts is a geat tool. There are many who set up others and when one steps into the hot mess, guess who walks away with a stinky mess? ;)
good for you.....written arguments are ignored by me....maybe my personality?....nah....more likely cause i type with one finger..
I've watched on OS the last 3 years as you have mellowed out. There was a time when you wrote what you felt and felt what you wrote. You still write from the heart, but like me, I think we both decided you get more bees with honey. Ya think?
Julie - believe me, there was many a time when I needed a gag. Or someone or something to hold my hands away from the keyboard. And I'm still not immune... but I'm finally walking away more now than taking up the fight.

Kim - different kinds of crazy, indeed. My husband grew up in the same kind of household as you. What a pair we've made over the years. Thank God for mellowing with age. I think he has taught me a lot about the value of not spouting off every time a sarcastic or condescending thought enters my mind. (Okay, fine, I had to be dragged there kicking and screaming, but I still got there.) And he communicates a lot more freely now than he used to - sometimes I think I've created a monster! Ha!

Abrawang - I agree with you about being able to find a healthy well of civil discourse on OS - one of the few places on the Internet where that seems to exist. I do still dip my toe in the waters of heated exchange every now and then, but thank goodness I'm not trolling for a fight all the time now. Much more peaceful that way.

Linnnn - Yes, it is the season, isn't it? I think that's what prompted my decision to make a habit of walking away - when I felt myself tensing up, waiting for the inevitable vicious haranguing as we approach election time.

o/e - I will admit there was a time I wasn't satisfied unless I had my "opponent" huddling in a quivering mass in the corner. But that was then...

Patrick - "Some people are simply combative." Amen to that.

nilesite - I laughed out loud at this: I used to write with a child psychologist (he was a grown up)... Love the dance analogy - excellent!

tr ig - seriously? I know you have more to say than 'no comment' ;-)

Lezlie - it took me a long time to realize that approach is what we call 'class.' And you, my dear, are one classy lady.

Monkey - I think you're perfect just the way you are. I heard someone say once, "He'll talk your head off and then holler down the hole." I have been known to adapt that philosophy to arguing...

Belinda - my moment of revelation was when I came to understand that walking away was not a weakness but a strength. Once I embraced that truth, then I had to work on changing my habits. It's a work in progress.

Steel Breeze - I can type like the wind, so online arguments were quite my forte for a while...

scanner - yes, you were there in those early years and you were always my friend - no matter what. I'll always love you for that. I think you're right - we've both come to that "more bees with honey" place. Maybe we'll live longer now. Or at least enjoy it more, right?
Late to the party, as usual Kim, but couldn't pass this up. I believe this is one of the advantages of growing older. You are very wise.
trilogy - Definitely one of the advantages of growing older - you're spot on about that. That and grandchildren. How are yours, BTW?
Love you too, UB
I have always shied away from arguments, how I have ended up where I am astounds me... I say good for you!!
I appreciate your position, but I fear that those of us with a "live and let live attitude" about the beliefs and opinions of others have paid an awfully high price for our silence.

By not confronting religious extremists, they were encouraged to stick their nose into politics -- to the ruination of religion and the pollution of politics (and that takes some doing in the case of the latter).

By not speaking up in defense of the many things government does well, we have left open the door to those who would destroy government and end all the good things it does.

It's my firm belief that people are and always will be the same, but cultures do change -- for better or worse. And I'm afraid most of the change in ours over the last thirty years or so has not been for the better. Many of us audaciously hoped things would get better if we just agreed to all "get along" and co-operate for the common good.

Well, many of us -- including our President -- have learned the hard way that some people aren't interested in compromise. Under such circumstances, silence is not golden.

We are told we have certain inalienable rights, but the hard truth is those rights are not inalienable. Freedom of speech is like any other right -- use it or lose it.
This is a test, right?
Welcome back, lady, and touché. Love your honesty. R.
Not a test -- an opinion. If I seemed testy, that wasn't my aim. My aim is mostly awareness, but sometimes my aim isn't near as good as I'd like it to be.
Well-said, Tom. Religion, however, has always, first and foremost, been politics of power. The only real distinction contained within what people see as "religion versus politics" is the distinction between a theocracy and secular government.
Your essay is well-written, Kim. I can totally relate to the family dynamics where the "knock-down/drag-outs" were a catalyst for changing my perspective and believe you me, I am definitely a work-in-progress. ;)
I feel very similar in a lot of ways. This belief that you can shred someone with words is really, in the end, sad. I know when I have done this in the past and later re-read these exchanges, I usually come off as looking like a self-satisfied verbal bully who has to crush his imagined enemy.

I think that anyone who read it would think I was an ass, which completely turned the roles around. I'd much rather walk away with class and dignity leaving them looking like the ass.

It has brought peace and calm into my life as, I am sure, it has with your life. Good for you.
Tom - I don't disagree with the gist of what you are saying. The point I am making here, though, is that I choose not to go around looking for a fight any longer, instead I prefer to confine my dearly held beliefs to those within my sphere of influence. The scatter-shot approach is ineffective, at best, and certainly exhausting. I have years of experience to prove that.

Rick - I appreciate your reading my post and thank you for the comment. I don't really see how your comment applies to what I posted, though. Did I miss something?

Belinda - I feel your pain!! :-)

Duane - I agree with you. It has taken me years to come to this conclusion and I cringe at some of the situations I've found myself in and my self-serving reactions to them - whether in print or verbally. Maturity, maybe? I can only hope. Yes, class and dignity - certainly preferable.
No, you didn't miss anything except, perhaps, that I was not actually responding to your post directly, but rather to Tom's comment.

As for your post, I recently had a similar sort of experience with a commenter on one of my own blogs -- that person assumed I had deleted his comment and went helter-skelter on me about it, said he was never going to interact with me again, has ignored my denials of deleting, and my PM to him, as well. Anyone familiar with me on OS should know I NEVER delete, never have, never will. And given that OS is notorious for unexplained deletions and non-posting of comments, I was quite taken aback by this particular individual's extremism. Having a bit of psychology background, I suspect that individual is unstable, probably on meds, and either the meds aren't working, or he was behind on a few doses.

As another commenter admits, I have also on occasion posted something that I later wished I had not, but I own my miscues whether on my own blog or on another person's blog. Usually, those instances have resulted from either that other person being unreasonable in his responses to me or a complete misunderstanding by one or both parties.
Let me see if I can explain myself a bit better ... I live in a place where the word "nigger" is still thrown about, and not in a "brotherly" way. If I assume the person who utters it has a brain and a heart, my typical response is to respond by saying "You're better than that." Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But at least I've made clear to that person that their overt racism isn't acceptable.

Why do I bother? Because until enough people react that way, racists will continue to think it's acceptable to speak that way. It's not. Do I have any illusions about changing every person's heart because I confront them? No, but I can tell you I have opened the eyes of a few, and I think they respect me for it.

Getting back to my original point, I believe that sort of confrontation is the only way we can change the culture. We have seen the same sort of dynamic work with smoking, and now we are witnessing it with gays and gay marriage. These sorts of cultural changes take time, of course, but they take much, much longer when people are led to believe their unacceptable behavior is acceptable.
Rick and Tom - I really do "get" what both of you are saying and this is the kind of well reasoned discourse that I appreciate and value. I think our society has, in large part, lost - or more accurately, discarded - the art of engaging in civil discourse. It seems to be the exception now, rather than the rule.

We've become a nation of beligerent, intemperate blowhards (present company excluded, of course) and I'll be the first to admit that I've jumped on that bandwagon myself more than a few times. Hence, my declaration of my resolve to "lay down the gloves."

This I know for certain: I'll never be a "shrinking violet" who won't stand for what I believe. But I've come close to being a "shrieking harpy" at times, and that's where I have to draw the line.

As Boomer Bob said in his comment, there is a certain nobility in maintaining a level head in the heat of arguments. From what I've observed of the two of you, you manage that quite well. I, on the other hand, have not always been made of such fine stuff. I'm finding my way there, but, as I've said, it's a process.

Wisdom. It's what we all search for. And if we're lucky, more of us find it than not.
Yeah, don't "lay down the gloves" -- just get batter at the ol' bob-n-weave and foot work. When necessary, resort to Ali's 'rope-a-dope" approach.
...heh, not "batter" -- BETTER ...
Your point is taken -- if I could change one thing about myself, it would be to argue without being argumentative. But alas, I don't suffer fools well, and there seem to be breeding rather well. Frankly, the political environment these days is enough to test the patience of Job.
I rated and ran yesterday, didn't know what to say. Sometimes the feeling of anger gets the best of me. I admire your new found reserve, and this is a well reasoned piece. Taking it to heart.
I think you have found a very good place to be. Cheers for you. Changing a lifetime habit is one of the hardest things to do. Don't be concerned if you slip up once or twice. You know where you want to go and that is more than half the battle.
How did I miss this one? Touché. Bravisima. You and I are nearly the same age, and on the same page. It takes a lot to get a rise out of me these days.
Sounds way to much like the house where I grew up. I'm glad you've reached the point where you can opt out of battles. It feels good to sit on the sidelines sometimes and leave the stress to someone else.
Oh, how I can relate. My mouth simply marvels at its capacity to open and fire at will. It's what I like least about myself. Though, these days, I worry less about what I say than I do about the negative, unresolved emotional baggage that simply won't take its leave. Bad for the mind, body and spirit!

Still love your honesty and the way you express it.