It took over 40 years but I figured it out- when someone argues with me- it is because they do not want to discuss what it is I am discussing. If I shut-up- the disagreement is over. Simple. Sweet. Keep it to yourself stupid!
I had to ask- what am I achieving by force feeding my opinion to anyone? If the other person with whom I am communicating wishes to engage in a discourse where I am giving some information, I still try and make it palatable enough so it does not offend them- usually. For years I heard myself tell stories which I thought were interesting which always included me triumphing over some dummy who had no idea who they were dealing with. “I told them!” I would exclaim! “I let them know!” I would rend in the air! “I couldn’t believe that person who…” I would yawp!
Too much energy in my life has been spilled out on situations and people who today don’t matter one bit. “Winning” an argument in 1984 has given me nothing today- except the memory of myself, the fighter…clawing my way through my life, looking for validation one contentious encounter at a time. I remember relaying my ‘stories’ to others, such as my big brother, about how I dealt with a certain situation by being very colorful in my recounting of the scene. Inside my own mind I would hear another voice…. “Really, Kim…is this really how you see yourself? Is your brother beaming with pride right now? ‘My sister, the takes-no-crap from anyone person who I wish would just shut-up right about now.’ ” I am not saying he ever said that, but I remember thinking his face did.
Recently, in conversation with a woman about my age, I witnessed my former self. The same kind of stories were spewing forth incessantly one after the other, all ending with the same moral to the story; she was right and everyone else was wrong, and boy, did they ever know it after they tangled with her. I remember sitting there feeling uncomfortable… I wanted to interrupt her and say, “Shut it!” But I didn’t. Instead I listened, as so many of my victims did for me and I nodded, and I smiled and said, “Oh wow, you sure are brave,” at the correct times. I wondered, however, if she saw in my face what I saw so often in others’ when I was on the war path for self-worth. I wonder if she saw how unimpressed I really was?
What does impress me? I go back to Mrs. Hansen. She was my Sunday School teacher. I remember looking into her eyes and recognizing for the first time that love can be expressed through those two portals so purely and simply. I remember staying behind on Sundays just so I could say hello and feel her gaze which was peaceful, loving, real. She used me as an example in class once as a person who leaned on their pride. I melted in shame in my seat. After she said that, she glanced over to me, then after class apologized. “I don’t know why I felt I could say that about you…I am so sorry. You are so prideful, Kim, but you need to remember that God is bigger than you, and bigger than any circumstance.” She finished her apology with the promise to NEVER use me as an example again. She kept her promise, and I still honored her in my heart. She was right, but I wish she would have just pointed out my ‘pride’ in a one-on-one and not ‘call me out’ as my students so aptly say. I was 21, and had been on my own for six years. A hardened young lady who felt I survived all on my own- (so not true) but looking back on my 21 year old self, I must have put forth a real tough chick persona…no one better mess with me!
I never forgot that moment. What stayed with me was my response. I felt ashamed. I wanted to disappear at that moment. Why? Because my ego was severely hurt, bruised up and impaired. When she said I was prideful, I didn’t feel pride, I felt her knock me right on the most sensitive spot of my purply-black bruised ego. It hurt.
I imagine we all have those moments when we feel our bruises bumped. Ouch! And I imagine a lot of us ruminate on the why… I wish I had been better at sharpening my own understanding of myself. You know, rectify some stuff so life would roll easier. It took me a while- but I do remember every lesson on the way. As for my pride- I still have it, but I put away the huge belt buckle showing I was the champion wrangler in life.
Sure, I have had a lot of crap land in my lap- but I seem to always clean up nice! For that, I am proud…but not too proud, Mrs. Hansen!