Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm reading Penni Russon's novel Undine. I've been meaning to read it for a long time. And well....I'm finally doing it.

There's a passage in the novel I can strongly relate to. It talks about a fight between a mother and daughter.

But this fight was different. There had been something so systematic about it, so planned. But not like Lou had planned it. It was as if the argument had been inevitable, out of Lou's hands. That the argument had been waiting to happen, independent of Undine and Lou, and there had been nothing they could do to stop it. Instead they were forced to perform it.

I do wonder if some fights are SUPPOSED to happen; if they happen in order to force us to deal with issues that simmer under the surface.

Last summer, we were at the lake house for a weekend. The usual custom for Sunday is to eat lunch, and then pack up to go home. Earlier that day, Tim asked me if I wanted to leave before lunch. I thought it was a bit odd since we rarely ever leave BEFORE lunch. On top of that, we had really awesome dinner leftovers to eat. I didn't really understand why he'd suggest leaving. I told him I wanted to stay.

During lunch, a HUGE family fight developed. Tim and I later wondered if he had some type of premonition. I sort of doubt it. I think it's a matter of tension building. There had been little fights here and there. Maybe he understood unconsciously that it would turn into something big.

Still though. Are some fights meant to be?

I think so.

Yeah. I guess I really do believe so.

I think they do hurt. I think they cause huge amounts of stress. I felt physically ill yesterday because of our family's huge current fight. Each time my AOL mail thing jumps up, my heart pounds nervously. I'm afraid of getting a hateful email from certain family members.

Spiritually, though....I believe they benefit us.

I think of the fights I've had in the last few years. They've all brought some good in my life.

In a few fights, I've actually become closer to the person I've fought with. The fight led us to fixing longtime problems between us. Our relationship has improved. That's probably the best thing that can happen.

In many fights, our relationship has not improved, but nor has it gotten worse. I think the fight made ME change for the better though. I learned that I can hold a grudge against an event, behavior, or action without holding a grudge against the entire person. I can think to myself. I don't like what you did to me, but I DO still love you as a person. And each time someone hurts me, I benefit in some way. Pain is one of life's greatest teachers. It teaches us how we want to be treated, and it teaches us how we should treat others.

There are some fights that have caused permanent rifts in the relationships I have with others. With some of these people, I'm no longer communicating. With other people, there's a friendly (but very guarded) truce. I think some of these fights have the role of removing people from our lives who shouldn't be there. I did mourn the loss of some for a few days...hoping and waiting to get an email that said it was all a joke. I wanted an apology, or at least an agreed upon truce. But now, months later, I'm relieved that they're gone. I realize I never much liked them in the first place. I liked them for one simple reason....they seemed to like me. I like being liked. Once they no longer liked me, I lost that obligation to like them back.

I think with most people, though, we're not supposed to COMPLETELY lose them. I think it's often about seeing someone's true colors, and knowing that when they're at their worst, they can be quite horrible. Maybe it's kind of like a warning. With fights you learn who is paranoid, who will lie to get out of trouble, who will manipulate the story to put all the blame on you, who likes you for a role they expect you to play, and not for who you truly are. And who will try to exit the relationship as soon as any sign of conflict appears.

Once you have the fight, you can know the weaknesses of your friend or family member. Maybe weakness is the wrong word. Psychological weapon might be a better one.

But we can't stop there.

At least I try not to.

The next task is to look within ourselves to make sure we don't use the same weapons that we despise in others. Unfortunately, often I discover that I do. And that knowledge always stings. How could it not? If it didn't, we wouldn't need to use elaborate defense mechanisms to protect us from the knowledge.

Once we face the truth, then we can try to make a change.

So yeah.

I definitely think that fights teach us a lot. They help us grow.

Unfortunately, they can also lead to homicide, suicide, depression, insomnia, physical injury, war, and other shitty things.

So it would be great if we could find a way to obtain these psychological and spiritual benefits without fighting.

I'm not quite sure we're evolved enough for that though.


  1. "In many fights, our relationship has not improved, but nor has it gotten worse. I think the fight made ME change for the better though. I learned that I can hold a grudge against an event, behavior, or action without holding a grudge against the entire person."

    This is something VERY hard to do and says a lot about you. It's something I can't always get around because of the whole "we are what we do thing."

    It would be great if we could evolve to the point where we can get these benefits without fighting but I fear we have a very long way to go.

  2. Ricardo,

    It took me awhile to realize I do this, and that it's not so bad.

    I'm known in my family as being unforgiving. If someone does something wrong, I stay angry about it for a long time. I won't think about it or talk about it until they anger me again. Then I'll bring up their past transgressions.

    I realized recently that although I have a hard time forgiving, I still deeply love the people I'm angry at. I can temporarily forget what they did, and have fun being with them.

    I'm not sure it's a very positive thing. I think it's in the middle. The worst is probably someone who simply walks away from a relationship as soon as they feel wounded by it. And I HAVE done that a few times before...or tried to. The best is someone who can not only forgive the person and love them....but easily forgive and forget the person's mistakes.

  3. I guess it's good that you get something positive out of your disagreements with people. I rarely find that to be the case for myself.

    I'm probably quite the opposite, I surround myself with people who don't create a lot of drama for the most part. But when there is a problem I usually do everything possible not to fight with someone until pushed past the point of no return... and by then, what's the point of a fight when you can just leave the relationship.

    It's usually pretty apparent at the beginning of a relationship when one person is all about the drama and fighting with everyone in their life all the time.

    My attitude is that all people do and say stupid things constantly, including myself. The key is to recognize the intention behind what people do, and ask yourself if they were purposely trying to be hurtful or antagonistic? Some people enjoy ruffling feathers and making other people feel uncomfortable or sad. Those are the people to steer clear of.

    And sometimes forgiveness is all about expectations. If you've forgiven someone, you can carry on accepting the negative things as part of the package, without focusing on the negatives all of the time. And you can just lower your expectations in that relationship.

    After being bitten once I usually EXPECT some people to act a certain way, so I'm not surprised when they do and there's nothing to be shocked or angry about.

    Conversely with people I'm very close to, I EXPECT them to act a certain way also, and they're probably my favorite people because they aren't looking for drama or reactions or negative attention.

    And even when someone's intentions are to create drama or stir the proverbial pot, they probably behave like that because they are insecure or lonely or sad. Bottom line is, there is always a reason for negative behavior.

    I don't like having strained relationships-- I'm always thinking what if someone died and our last words weren't nice-- things like that weigh on my mind, which is probably why I'm so apt to ignore things that some people do that hurt or upset me.

    There's a book we love which has a great perspective on how we can recognize the people who bring us down and also appreciate people who try to make you feel good. It's called:

    Have You Filled A Bucket Today by Carol McCloud.

    It's one of our favorites.

    Also, (cause surely I haven't said enough) I don't think anyone ever really forgets (even when they forgive)-- because then you are setting yourself up to be hurt when they repeat the same behavior again-- which they usually will, it's probably in their nature... though I'm sure there are exceptions where someone accidentally says something inappropriate or whatnot, but normally the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this entry.

    I think fights do happen for a reason. I'm so sorry you are having more problems with your family. They, to me, are the hardest ones of all to deal with..fights with family. I think there are certain people and circumstances where we can forgive and still move forward with and there are those for various reasons that we cannot.

    Have you enjoyed reading Undine?? Is it the American version or the Australian one?

  5. TL- What was I thinking-- it all goes out the window when it comes to family! I must have lost my train of thought on that whole family thing, duh.

  6. Laura: Yeah. I think we have very different perspectives on this one. Although since you say it's different for family...maybe we're not completely on different pages.

    Tracey: I dreamed about you last night! Yeah. I finished the book. I liked it. I just checked. It's the American version. Were there a lot of changes made? That's sad if there was.

    My family is pretty okay right now. We're good at forgiving each the long run.