I am really bad at handling conflict. I actually do know people who aren’t – people who know what they want and how to ask for it. People who see something wrong and, difficult or no, step up to set it right.
Conflict with someone you love is the hardest. I’ve never been good at asking for what I want – hell, I’ve never even been good at knowing what I want. When you need to ask it of someone you’re close to – well, I want to be generous, and I want to give someone the benefit of the doubt and cut them some slack. Yet finally, after all these years, I’m learning to trust my feelings, even if I don’t always understand them.
It’s the boundary that gets me. You know what I mean – the skinny, shifting line that separates my needs from someone else’s. For years I was the kind of girl who respects a good boundary, but as I get older, the line has gotten blurrier, and I need glasses to see it.
As an only child, I was raised on the belief that “selfish” was the worst thing I could possibly be. I suspect that I could have grown up to be a hooker or a serial killer, and as long as I wasn’t being selfish about it, we could have worked things out. Fear of being labeled selfish has held me back and kept me from getting what I needed more times than I can count.
Over the last few years, I’ve slowly cracked the bonds that locked in my I’m-not-worthy mindset. But I struggle with it almost every day. From tiny decisions to major life choices, I face the same dilemma: Do I deserve this? Does my need trump your pain? The easy alternative is to just get angry, and I’ve been plenty angry in my time, both for real and in my head, fending off any imagined onslaught of recrimination before it can sneak up on me.
But the best defense isn’t necessarily a good offense. It can sink you and keep you cut off from the world, even those you love. And so I’m trying: trying to cut myself some slack, and give me the benefit of the doubt. Much of my anger largely faded. But when it creeps back in, I know it’s time to step up and set it right.
I deserve it.