She said she thought it was the best session so far. I looked at the group member and thought “interesting, I thought it was the worst one”. For me anyway.
They talked about conflict. Not a good topic for me. They talked about how conflict is a normal part of life. That it’s unavoidable, it will happen. They talked about communication skills in handling conflict. And so on and so on. I say ‘they’ because I didn’t talk much at all.
We did a short questionnaire that would tell us our ‘how we handle conflict’ style. We had to put a number beside the question. We had to add up the numbers and my numbers that added the highest said I was a turtle. Yep, ain’t that the truth!
A few days distant from the session I’ve been able to think of what happened within it.
Conflict, just the thought of it brings up an unreasonable fear within me. The consequence of conflict means horrendous fallout, it means somebody may die. There will be violence involved in some form. There will be blood shed, there will be weapons involved. And there will always be yelling.
As a child I tried to avoid conflict at all costs if I wasn’t involved directly in it. I would hide somewhere in the house if I thought it was about to happen. And as I got older I would on occasion even knock on a neighbour’s door and ask if I could stay there for a bit when my parents conflict got out of control. I had to get away from the sights and sounds of the violence. Conflict always ended in some form of violence.
As I became an adult I’ve tried to avoid conflict at all costs. If people start to get into an argument when I’m around I will try everything in my power to divert them from it. And if an argument breaks out I freeze. I rarely argue with others and will find some way around any conflict that may involve me.
As I’ve thought about it over the last few days I’m starting to wonder if this has been a major roadblock for me in developing deeper relationships with people. Healthy relationships or not there will be conflict.
Healthy conflict, mild conflict, it doesn’t matter. That strong unreasonable fear rises up in me. I want to close my eyes and plug my ears. The memories themselves may sometimes be muddled but the mind bending fear is as fresh as if it just happened yesterday.
In the eighth session they discussed conflict. In the eighth session I sat frozen. In fear.