I grew up without a healthy understanding of disagreement.

  • How to voice my own opposed opinions the right way.
  • What happens if I voice my own opposing opinions the wrong way.
  • What happens if my mother intends to voice her own opinions.
    • Clue: major screaming and fighting and increased threat of physical violence in the form of stomping, slamming things (possibly close to your person ie: doors you are standing by, drawers your hand might be by, slamming something down near you, etc). Personal insults. etc.
  • How my father got to voice his own opinions which were Always Right.
    • Clue: Aggressively enforcing his own reality upon anyone who dare express differently unless that person was perceived to be ‘more powerful’ than him (social standing).
      • I grew up watching my father treat people badly enough to have management threatening to call the police. And sometimes they did. No less than five times in my presence and I have three siblings and a mother that ALL have experiences with it. This does not include roadside encounters with the police which; in one instance for example, our car got impounded because he was driving without a license and we walked home which was; luckily, not that far.

The process to realizing that I had no understanding of how to rationally and reasonably disagree with someone was slow. And highly uncomfortable as I realized that if I kept having bombastic blow outs with friends CLEARLY I was the problem…

  1. I spent a lot of time online as a teenager. This was pretty much one of the most healing and wonderful experiences of my life. I ended up on a forum for fanart/fanfiction and had a lot of friends on the team running the site and they had cool amazing perspectives from all over the world. It was kind of the glory days of the high interwebs before even Myspace. Possibly simultaneous with myspace really. I moderated the discussions forum and to be truthful. When I was having a good day I was great at it. But I slowly let the infantisimal power of being a forum moderator going to my head and then not only was I disrupting dog pile threads… I was creating them. I can’t remember if I stepped down or was fired but it was a good thing and I knew it even at the time.
  2. The bombastic blow out with friends. I developed close friendships that were basically intimate partnerships without any romance. Just. I personally prefer to develop extremely close friendships. But knowing that consciously now is not the same as doing this unconsciously. The effects of this are thus,
    1. I was deeply hurt many times by simplistic friend Things, the ways people properly treat a friend.
    2. When the friendship ended/changed/altered… All the typical applications of a break up were … applicable. Friendship break ups were the only experiences I ever had with changing my relationships with other humans and I’d say they largely went very poorly. I’ve got a long list of people I feel I haven’t treated as well as I could have and I don’t know what to do with it other than honour them by  not adding to that list.
    3. My first real relationship and the closest I’ll ever get to a white picket monogamous marriage (thankfully?) was six years and in that six years I learned a lot of things about how I argued with people. Particularly an intimate partner.
      1. Use of yelling. I have an extremely loud voice. It was the time, towards the end of our relationship when I was consciously waking up… that I realized I had yelled “you’ll know when I’m screaming at you”. And I could not ignore what I was doing.
      2. Threats. My version of threats was weird. My body stance was and can be aggressive and I’m a gesticator and that gets more agitated the more agitated I get. I know I slammed doors but I strongly suspect I only ever slammed the front door while leaving or the bedroom door while going into it.
      3. Hitting. You know how girls punch their guy friends, boyfriends, or other girl friends in the shoulder? Its not ok. I used to do this and I’m really appalled and ashamed by how I got to be a teenager that thought it was ok to jovially punch someone when we were really agitated or outraged. My partner was the first one to indicate that this wasn’t ok. His mother was a highly educated worker in social services type work which I won’t mention here and so he had the language to identify to me that this was wrong and I will ALWAYS be thankful to him that he challenged me on this.
        1. Hitting sometimes ISN’T OK. It’s fucking testing the waters for more escalating abuse later and if you don’t think you could end up hitting your partner in anger if you’ve hit them in mock anger or joy before… then I think you’re not being imaginative enough as to your capabilities and might end up being horrifically suprised someday. I strongly suspect I would have ended up being physically violent with my partner if he hadn’t stopped my behaviour in the beginning of our relationship and I thank him for protecting me from that side of myself.
        2. I now know that the modicum of physical violence my father exerted on my entire family in unique small ways had the effect of alluding the idea that he was capable of more violence. His limited physical abuse is something he is very proud of but the fact that he was basically always threatening that he could be beating us with two by fours (yes. That was the literal allusion) doesn’t seem to sink in to have him understand that the climate of fear he imposed on his children and wife was not ok EVEN IF HE WASN’T BEATING US WITH TWO BY FOURS SO MUCH AS HE APPARENTLY WANTED TO.
        3. I will never not be ashamed or appalled by my own behaviour. I haven’t had the chance to talk to my ex about this because I’ve now pieced all of it together since we broke up. … I don’t know if he would classify me as an abusive partner because there were a lot of good times and we really did end quite graciously. But I certainly define him as having experienced a large amount of side abuse (FLEAS) as a result of having an abused partner.
      4. Now… I have this seemingly dragon lady persona that some people are dearly perterubed by. I spent ages 10-15 while I was formulating how I write and how I speak reading the many saved and LONG tirade rant letters my father had written to various individuals over the lifespan of that computer. My favourite one started off with “Dear PIGS.” I can’t remember if it was to the police department or not. I’ve got strong opinions and I have been a person in the past that WEILDS my strong opinons. (Paladin).

I am capable of speaking and wrting eloquently and powerfully. I often do not attempt to pull my ‘punches’ in an argument and if I can word something so that I believe it will twist someone’s SOUL into an unfigurable knot…. I do so.

Things that have been helpful in my learning to disagree healthily.

  • Learning boundaries. I credit my troupe coordinator for teaching me about boundaries and I happen to know it wasn’t pleasant for her because I’m not a pleasant person to be intimately friendly  with and then have quit on you because of internal problems you have no control over. But that’s what happened. Having some healing over time with this relationship was one of the most beneficial things I think could have happened in my life. There was a time in my life I thought ‘good people’ were people that could inately figure out what my boundaries would be and not cross them. I found out this is not the case. People can be great and I can still disagree with them.
  • Not personalizing people’s opinions. Often times people don’t realize they are degrading me with their opinion of someone they figure is totally different from me but with whom I see a lot of similarities. They don’t understand. Neither blowing up at them or quietly NOT blowing up at them and holding onto that hurt is healthy. Having a nice, rational discussion and stating calmly that I feel degraded by their derision for a person I feel is similar to myself will allow me to suss out whether or not they intended me to feel degraded or not and go from there as to solutions. They don’t mean to hurt you if they hurt you… and if they did? You’ll only know that as a pattern over time.
  • Step Two: ??? Step three: Profit?
This emotional literacy thing can get sort of sketchy at times…

The comic above can be found here: http://www.wastedtalent.ca/ and is one of my favourite medias ever and I have been reading since I was like 16 or so. It has informed most of my adult life.