25 May 2007

The Sound of Silence

I'm a typical redhead, at least when it comes to my temper. I don't suffer fools gladly, but usually I don't blow up at them, either. I generally try to stick with logic and reasonableness, but if pushed far enough, watch out! My anger is loud and explosive, the typical fiery temper of a true redhead. Be afraid, be very afraid. Of course, if you can stand to stay in the same place as I am when I'm angry, you'll also find out that I don't stay mad very long after I've had my say, and am ready for equilibrium to return.

Oh, if everyone else reacted the same way I do, how happy I would be! I grew up in a household where silence reigned whenever my Mom got mad at me. And my Mom can sustain that silence for a very long time. Maybe that's why I hate it so much whenever someone reacts to anger with silence. I feel like a little kid again, being punished with that oppressive, distainful lack of conversation. As a kid it never occurred to me to lash out and say my mind. Instead I would go into my room or outside and have conversations in my head where I yelled everything I wanted to say in response to the silent treatment. Eventually I would calm down again and just have to wait the silence out, most of the time even feeling guilty enough to apologize, even when I didn't think I was in the wrong.

Mom was surprised, and not in a pleasant way, when I grew up and went to law school and stopped letting her get away with giving me that silent treatment. While law school played a part, because if it did anything, it taught me how to argue a point into the ground, for the most part this change simply coincided with my going to law school rather than being a consequence of it. In college I had experienced the anger and silence of someone who had been a friend, and this person was so passive-aggressive that I never knew what caused the rift. I still don't. When I moved across the country and started a new phase of my life in a place where I knew no one, I also decided that I didn't want to have any more passive-aggressive relationships with people. I would tell people when they angered or hurt me. If it meant I lost the friendship, that would be the price I paid. But I was going to be true to my feelings.

I still try to do that, even with people in my life who prefer going silent when they are angry about something. Now on those few occassions when Mom and I are angry with each other, even if she won't talk, I will make sure she hears what I have to say. It drives her crazy.

Of course, there are times when the petty side of me rears its ugly little head, and my thoughts tend to be, "To heck with her. If she doesn't want to talk to me, fine. I can outlast her!" I know that doesn't do either person any good, and I end up going over and what I'd like to say in my head, just like when I was a kid. Today I've been feeling like this. Which means I need to get a few things off my chest with someone. So I'm going to try to live up to that decision I made so long ago, and try to not be passive-aggressive.

Instead of the sound of silence, let freedom (and words) ring!

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