fight, apologize, and walk away

The Last Word on Love

I’m in a pretty bad mood today. Last night I had a rather unpleasant text exchange with someone who I care very much about. At least part of the acrimony was about not publicly airing dirty laundry, so I’m not going to be more specific than that as to their identity.

I wish I could say that I kept my cool throughout the text conversation, that I maintained equanimity throughout. Unfortunately, there were some barbs that I responded to in ways that furthered the anger, answering guilt trips with guilt trips. I even managed (somehow) to lose all my skill at apologizing, and at one point was insisting I’d apologized for something when in fact I never had.

How could I lose all my skill at non-violent communication? How could I go from being able to teach the art of conversation, of negotiation, of conflict resolution through all kinds of relationships to the equivalent of “Yeah? Well you hit me first!“?

The answer, of course, is in the second sentence. Someone I care very much about. The deeper the love, the deeper the pain, the more you care, and the more strongly you react. This particular person is someone I not only don’t see as much as I’d like, but I’ve never seen them as much as I’d like, and that’s mostly my fault.

So what you had was a huge soft mushy pile of I love you infused with the fuel of I miss you ignited by a nice long fuse of How could you?
which in large part was accelerated by Oh, heck, did I really…? 

Quite a mess. But I did one thing, I think, right.

I ended the conversation. I managed to get the apology out, I managed to let the person know that yes, I missed them and I cared, and I bid them goodnight. There are times, I believe, when the only way out of a bad situation is…well, not a retreat, because heck, I’m a Marine! but maybe a strategic withdrawal.

So I leave you to start the weekend making sure you have the necessary exit strategies: I’m sorry, I love you, and Goodbye. 

Sometimes that’s just the best you can do.

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