Don’t Make Waves

Years ago I heard a joke that typifies how I used to respond to most situations.

I had a dream that I died and went to the bad place…..I was given a choice of 3 different doors like Let’s Make a Deal.

Behind door number one there was screeching and screaming.  I shook my head.

Behind door number two was weeping and wailing.  Again I shook my head.

Behind door number three I could only hear a soft murmuring.  That was the door I picked.

I was shoved in and I fell into a cesspool of manure.  Everyone was standing on the tiptoes with sh*t up to their necks murmuring, “Don’t make waves.”

9. “I avoid saying anything that others might not agree with, which means I’m never being myself. I wear a mask of complete neutrality in any situation, because I’m so scared of anyone feeling negative towards me.”

In public meetings or work or parties I mostly stayed quiet until I got to know people better.  I was hiding.  I hid in open spaces.  I hid from myself.  I learned brutally at home to not disagree unless I had documentation to back up what I was saying.

In school, I was humiliated when I didn’t say just the right thing.  At home, I would get crushed in any argument.  I learned to keep my mouth shut and my head low to avoid problems.  I didn’t see myself as wearing a mask so much as I saw staying quiet as a way to avoid humiliation and confrontation.  The first time I attempted disagreeing with my counselor I was terrified.  I was pissed off but wouldn’t speak up.  The following week I brought a flower for his wife, condolences for being married to him.  He was stunned, “Do you mean you brought me hate flowers?”  I learned years later that he often would say things to piss me off because anger was the fastest way to get people to drop their masks and say what they really think.  I was terrible at it.  I was so afraid.  My counselor taught me something magical, I can disagree without having an argument and without loosing friends or being punished.  I can share ideas without fear of being crushed.  I wasn’t afraid of negative feelings I was afraid of being verbally destroyed if I said anything contrary to anyone else.  I learned the art of disagreeing by asking questions.  When I was a computer geek I learned that I really did know things.  I also understood that many other people were afraid to ask me for clarification or disagree for the same reason I was. At the end of my introduction to the computer lab I would explain to people that the reason I knew the answer to stupid questions is because I already asked them.  I worked at creating an atmosphere that questions, disagreements, and discussions were safe.  Nobody would jump down your throat or laugh at you.  Sadly, I didn’t do this for my own home because I didn’t learn to do this until my kids were grown.  However, I highly recommend creating places and being with friends (I include family with friends) that disagreements have the common rule of being able to disagree without being disagreeable.  Yup, I ended friendships over disagreements but I later realized to be a real friend to me was I have the right to my opinion and the other person has the same right. I have rights and being real and saying what I actually think is one of those rights with the clear understanding I am responsible for what I say.

I have the right to my opinions and convictions.  Just because I have them does not mean I should always state them.  Sometimes the best reply is silence but I need to keep in mind that with some people silence means agreement.  The art of disagreeing without being disagreeable is on going training.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Make Waves

  1. Pingback: 9 of 25 Things | The Project: Me by Judy

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