Friday, February 1, 2013

Addendums (Addendi?)

After a discussion with a very good friend – one I’m not afraid to get into it with, by the way – I’ve decided that my last post needed some caveats or addendums (addendi?) or what have you. If you need a refresher and don't feel like scrolling down, I wrote about my resolution to “engage conflict” in order to go deeper in my relationships. Anyway, my friend made a valid point: Many – maybe most? – people don’t have the psychic energy it takes to “go deeper” with more than a couple of people in their lives.

She once heard a father tell the story of the time his daughter said, “I just can’t handle more than one high-maintenance friend.” And this father, who I consider to be an extremely wise man, thought that what his daughter had said was extremely wise.

I wouldn’t say that I have a lot of high-maintenance friends… maybe because I’ve practiced the above subconsciously throughout my life. I mean, I know my limitations. But I will also say that the level of plunging into relationships in which we “engage conflict” probably cannot be maintained across the board with all our acquaintances. I mean, maybe some people can handle that, but I would find it exhausting. And I’m already pretty tired.

Adam from Girls
In my mind, it’s mostly about context. For instance I will go deep with the people I am around the most – my husband and my best friend. (My siblings, too… not that they’re around, but we’re already in deep!) If we are going to be hanging out, I want to build a relationship that is based on who I really am – not the tiptoeing around afraid-to-say-boo me I usually show.

That said, I want to mention again that such self-being should be done with all kindness, patience, love and courtesy. Sure, home is a place where you can let your farts out with impunity – we do… but your inner a-hole? That needs to stay inside. Tell me the truth all you like, but be nice about it, right? 

Because I so don’t agree with what Adam says in an episode of HBO’s Girls: “When you love someone, you don’t have to be nice all the time.” In my sporadic reading of C.S. Lewis’ masterful writings, I KNOW that there’s a place where he addresses this misconception. Now, I love to quote my sources directly but have been unable to locate the reference despite quite an honest effort.
Again with the C.S. Lewis...

So, IF I remember correctly, Lewis says something like this: “People often think they don’t have to be courteous at home, citing the need to be themselves. However, home is the place where courtesy and civility are most required.” I’m going to keep looking for this quote, just in case I’m totally misrepresenting, which I certainly could be… unintentionally, of course. 

Moving right along… to outside of the home… if we just see each other occasionally, it’s unlikely that we’ll be pissing one another off on a regular basis, so you needn’t fear me getting all up in your grill. You’d hope, anyway!

And if we are friends on Facebook, I’m not going to scrap with you because internet interaction can come across as cantankerous. That said, I do love me some meaningful discourse, so if you want to ponder the meaning of life, discuss theology – theoretical or practical – or just talk about the New York Dolls… then by all means, let’s have coffee or something! However, coffee talk, no matter how philosophical does not necessarily lead to the kind of “conflict engaging” I was talking about.

And, of course, none of this is to say I wouldn’t be assertive with people when needed – on simple things like “where do you want to eat?” Or, “What movie shall we watch?” Although sometimes I honestly have no opinion. It’s not a matter of fear of making waves – I just don’t have a preference. Or, for instance, if I got shortchanged or something. But that’s not the same thing, really.

Okay, so the meaning of this follow-up blog, is... wait – what is it? Um … oh yeah… Sure, I’m going to engage, but I know my limitations… and I can’t do the push-me-pull-you thing with every single person. 

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