I Want A New Drug
I have a friend who always knows what to say in every situation. She is not afraid of conflict or confrontation and speaks up for herself. She manages to have the exact right retort for any person who crosses her. She is nothing like me.
I don’t know if its the way I was raised, or really just my nature, but I find it painfully difficult to enter into any sort of unpleasant discourse. The result is that rude people get away with a lot with me, and I end up carrying around the frustration and anger of a situation I should have dealt with head on.
There seem to be drugs to cure almost everything that ails you. There are pills to ease anxiety, pills to curb appetite, pills to cure head aches and sore throats. Where can I find a pill that will help me to speak my mind?
Once, I was shopping in the early evening with my daughter. A saleswoman was helping my daughter with her selection of shoes to try on. The saleswoman was friendly, and she and I were chatting about her children. While my daughter tried on her last pair of shoes, I showed the saleswoman the dresses that I had just purchased and asked her if the shoes seemed to match.
A woman approached with her two daughters. She looked at me and the salesperson and then remarked,
“I personally couldn’t care less about your dresses. What I do care about is that you finish up with this salesperson because I have been waiting to be helped!”
The saleswoman looked at me and braced herself for what I am sure she believed to be an onslaught of anger. My daughter also stared at me and wondered how I would respond.
My heart beat quickened and I thought about my friend and what she might say to this woman. “You are truly rude and are setting a terrible example for your children.” She would probably say. Or perhaps, “You can go wait at another store because I think we will now try on several more pairs of shoes.”
All I could do was glare at the woman in disbelief. I said nothing.
“Well?” she demanded. “I’ve been waiting! This is the third store I’ve had to wait in for help!”
I continued to ignore her as the saleswoman carried our shoe boxes to the register.
“Mommy.” said my daughter, “Why is that woman yelling at you?”
“I think she’s having a bad day, honey.” I replied. “You know, I could say something to her, but I think I’d rather just ignore her rudeness.”
In the end, I suppose my inaction could be construed as appropriate action. The woman continued to sputter as my daughter and I walked off with our purchases. But, I wonder if I am perpetuating in my daughter my discomfort with confrontation. Had she seen me deal head on with the woman, she may have gained tools that would serve her well later in life.
I have tried to “role play” with my husband or my sister to learn to handle confrontation. I have managed to learn to politely disagree or even to quietly and gently express my dissatisfaction. But, I still allow an aggressive driver to cut me off in a parking lot without more than a slight short honk of the horn.
If there ever is a drug to help me gain some “moxey,” you can be sure that I will first in line. Until then, I will continue to work on finding that voice.
Yesterday, my youngest daughter, Jillian’s friend was whining that she wanted my daughter to play a certain game with her. My daughter first commented that they had already played the game several times and she wanted to do something else. “I am the guest!” insisted her friend. “You have to play what I want.”
“No.” said Jillian in her firmest voice. “I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to!” And at that, the two girls found a compromise and played happily together. If only I could bottle that!