Confrontation, oh how I fear thee

I don’t do confrontation. I’m not sure how many people know this about me, but, well, now it’s out there.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about confrontation that scares me – whether it be the ‘I wish I’d thought to say this/that’, or whether it be my lack of confidence in having a conversation ‘live’ that can’t be edited like the written word, whether it be the about my lack of confidence in myself I have & not feeling up to putting my feelings out into the world, or the knowledge that I am leaving myself open & vulnerable by exposing personal feelings & thoughts that once out may be used against me or as bait in future conversations.

Confrontation also brings up so many insecurities for me – of not being smart enough. I was always an ‘average’ student at school & I would always hide & not disclose test scores for fear of ridicule or judgement, even when the scores were ok or even really good. I just didn’t have the assurance that I was able to meet anyone academically & I think I envision confrontation as a type of school debate & don’t feel smart enough to ‘compete’ or will win it for the team. I’m scared of what will happen, what will be said back, that I won’t be equipped with the arguments, the vocabulary or to leave emotion out of it (cos sometimes it’s not about that), to personalise everything & then to play the self-blame game.

I have grown up with depression always being my constant visitor & companion, so my negativity & pessimism spent a long time shaping my outlook on life & my self confidence. I know I’m not the same person as I was as a child or teenager & am learning to see things differently & change the way I think about things, however, for some reason I just can’t shake the fact that confrontation scares me & this fear stops me from acting on it.

I think having a delicate personality or a history of self-doubt also brings ‘character assassination’ into the mix of things I fear when thinking about confrontation. I just can’t shake the feeling that I am going to be ‘dumped on’ even though I might have everything working in my favour for an apology or whatever I’m wanting as the outcome of the meeting. And then there’s the personality of the other party to consider. Strong, intimidating, controlling & those people that are not scared to say anything also stop me in my tracks.

Fear the unknown outcome also scares me. Being one of those ‘type A’personalities & wanting to be able to control as much as possible in my life (which I know is unrealistic, but that’s a whole other blog post) does not bode well when it comes to having conversations ‘on the fly’ that involve feelings & emotions & possible outcomes that I don’t want or didn’t plan for. How will I cope & how will I feel should the outcome be unfavourable? Will this start me on a carousel of ongoing confrontations?

I’m not quite at the point in my life that I know who I am, that I love, respect & accept myself & feel worthy…. And then something like fear or inability to confront shakes me up just that little bit more when things in my personal life requires me to either step up & stand up for myself. This fear makes me question whether I’m ever going to be ‘content’ knowing I’m letting fear & vulnerability take over from rectifying things, improving relationships or standing up for what I believe is right or just having the opportunity to being heard & validated. There are some aspects of myself that I am comfortable with & like & things that attract people to me, but not being able to stand up for myself or being confrontational makes me question if I’m truly content & ok & can lead a fulfilling life.

And I know not all confrontations are hard or need to be a clash of the minds. It doesn’t always have to be a shouting match or a well prepared speech using examples of things from the past to give your point validity. Sometimes it’s a gentle conversation that is included as part of a catch up over coffee & doesn’t get another minutes thought. I think I’m ok with those. Yeah, I am.

When thinking about this fear of mine, it got me thinking of the ‘other party’. Are people nasty or rude to me knowing that I avoid confrontations & they’ll get away with it? Maybe. Do they use this against me? Maybe. Do they push me to the point where I’m backed into a corner out of fear as a means to an end knowing I won’t push back? Maybe. Do I think that those people who know I avoid confrontation exploit me knowing they’ll get away with it? Maybe.  Do I see this as a character flaw of mine & do people that know me see it as a flaw? Maybe. Have I lost friendships & family members over the fact that I don’t confront them. Most definitely yes.

I know I have made conscious decisions lately not to confront certain things that have occurred in my life. It hasn’t been easy & it’s been hurtful, often relentless, nasty & (mostly) unwarranted. This is one of those times that no matter what I say, I will not be heard or given the space to put my case forward. I don’t want to be involved in a situation of having a conversation like this, that only serves to provide the other person with the stage to perform & no purpose other than to give that person an opportunity to lay out their reasons for their actions or inactions.

I know there are times I’ll have to step up & my kids are going to be the impetus for this. There are going to be many occasions that I’ll have to stand up for them as they grow up & I want to be able to do this for them. And I want them to learn this skill from me or DH as I don’t want them going through life letting people take advantage of them for not being able to stand up for themselves.

I would love some helpful (gentle) tips on how I can overcome my fear, so please feel free to share the love cos I sure could do with some of it at the moment.

 

AvoiDANCE

Allow me to introduce to you to my close friend, protector & social deflector…. Avoidance.

Avoidance has been my fire blanket for as long as I can remember, so much so that I don’t want to fold it up, pack it away, or even consider it not being my ‘go-to’ comforter.

I think I learnt this skill early on in life as growing up we had many people coming in & out of our home due to the job my parents had. We often had people sitting at a dinner table not knowing each other & sometimes not knowing us either. We were ‘briefed’ beforehand & given a rundown on how this person landed up in our home & at our table & were also provided topics to avoid due to it’s sensitivity or inappropriateness towards our visitor. Hence, the dinner dance I grew up with was created – the very essence of avoidance & masking uncomfortableness. There were times I recall my brother & I almost performing for these people to break the silence, encourage conversation & topics of interest or just talking amongst each other in the hope that the deafening silence & awkward social situation would be drowned out by our banter. We actually used to call each other ‘social lubricators’ & it became instinctual when our services were required.

Over the years, I perfected avoidance so much so that performing became a breeze & it also manifested itself into a mask. I hoped as my confidence grew & as my strived to achieve my hopes & dreams socially & professionally, that I would be better confronting people & situations. However, it wasn’t to be. And sadly, as my depression increased in it’s frequency this was just something that I just didn’t have the energy or room to work on. My avoidance isn’t prejudiced either as it involves both situations & individuals so all my bases are covered in terms of any potential conflicts.

I don’t know what my issue with avoidance is & how I’ve become so resistant to confrontation. What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Isn’t confrontation just standing up for myself? I’m not a weak person, nor a pushover, so surely this should come easily! Am I just wilfully ignorant?

I want to get to the bottom of this. I really do as I feel it holding me back to the person I want to be for myself & for my family. So, what is my issue exactly? Is it feeling overwhelmed at the time of confrontations & not saying what I want to say? Is it that I think of things to say after the fact & get angry with myself for not thinking of them at the time? Is that my excuse for not even starting the conversation that needs to be had? Am I scared what the other person will think of me? If they’re my good friends I shouldn’t care & the friendship is supposed to strengthen. And If we’re not good friends, then I shouldn’t even bother, so it’s not avoidance rather disinterest. Am I scared about the unknown outcome therefore not even wanting to find out? Is it a control thing – that I can’t control the outcome, my feelings etc?

And then I start thinking: what lesson I am teaching my kids by all this avoidance? Is this the kind of role model I want to be to my children? If I want people or my kids to have respect for me then surely I need to be able to genuinely respect myself & be content with my life’s decisions. Is my avoidance a form of self-respect sabotage?  Is my fear born out of self-preservation? How do I go about & what do I need to do to give myself permission to be vulnerable enough to stop this tango of avoidance? If I want to be the best version of myself, then surely something needs to change in my thinking.

Like my realisation that the word ‘forgiveness’ had the word ‘give’ in it, the word avoidance has the word ‘dance’ in it. This is perfect for me as I actually see myself dancing around topics & hop stepping about in order to deflect from the real issue. In actual fact, I would rather dance instead of facing a confronting, uncomfortable or excruciating event.

At the beginning of this post, I called avoidance my ‘fire’ blanket as opposed to a safety blanket. Is there really going to be a wall of fire thrown at me for standing up for myself? Do I really have to snuff it out before it starts to sting? Is this how I view confrontation – that the consequence is me being told off, questioned or hurt? Are all confrontations going to be an attack on my character? Is that how I see confrontation – as personal attacks? At the end of the day confrontations & arguments are just words. They’re just noises that come out of peoples mouths & form things called words which we use to communicate to each other. It’s all it is. I can make these words bounce off me or go right over me depending on the level of value I hold in the relationship with the person in conversation with. Surely this is nothing to be fearful of!?

I’m sure there are some people that see & view my avoidance as a weakness & an area in which they can exploit & take advantage of. Surely this alone should give me the motivation & impetus to make a change & stop dancing around the real issues. And I need to be honest too & admit that I’m not proud of this personality trait, so this together with my feelings of exploitation just have to be the architects of change.

I really don’t know the answer here, but I hope that exploring my thoughts & feelings in this space will provide me with some insights & in time possible paths of exploration.

Does anyone else have issues with confrontation? Have you managed to overcome your fears? What have been your strategies? I’d love some tips.

Things I’m afraid to tell you

There are a group of bloggers who are all banding together & participating in a series of posts called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make Under My Life & Ez of Creature Comforts. If you’d like more information on the TIATTY movement, you can read Jess’ interview with Laura Rossi from the Huffington Post. You can also visit Robin at Farewell Stranger to read other TIATTY posts as well. All these women are truly amazing & inspirational & I’m so very honoured to be part of this movement.

So here goes:

* Some people are able to move on from arguments or fights & go about their daily life. I’m not one of those people. I let my feelings impact me to the point that I want to hide away from the world. And I usually do.

* I might be good at confrontation, but will probably never know because I avoid it like the plague.

* I’m really not as confident as I appear. (Depends on the situation of course).

* Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real mother because Seon works from home & often helps out during the day. I feel ashamed of this because I ‘should’ be doing it all.

* I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in God.

* I avoid. Avoidance, as much as it haunts me, provides me with a sense of protection. I consider myself a weak person because of this.

* I’ve mastered how to wear a mask.

* I still have my good days & my bad days with it comes to my depression & anxiety, but no one other than my nuclear family & very close friends will ever know that.

* I find some female relationships hard work & require a lot of energy. I just don’t have a lot of energy.

* Sometimes I don’t feel worthy enough.

* The kids bath & bed time makes me anxious every single night.

* I’m intimidated by strong (& often opinionated) women.

* I’m jealous of babies Flynn’s age that can eat finger food & ‘proper’ foods without choking or vomiting.

* Sometimes I think that I’ve deserved the pain I’ve had in my life & that I’m being punished for something.

* I don’t like the way I look, specifically my weight & my fat rolls. I’ve never been this big/heavy & I lack any motivation to do anything about it.

* I care what other people think of me no matter what I say about the matter or however much I pretend not to.

If you would like to add something that you are afraid to tell, you’re most welcome to post it here or link your blog post to the linky below.