Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Clumsy Kind Of Love

It's entirely possible to be right in all the wrong ways. I know this because I've been guilty of it. And because I've been guilty of it I recognise it in others. You've probably done similar, unless you're a shrinking violet who consents to everything. Unless you fall into the later category you can likely recall times when, from a position when the facts are on your side you've perhaps pushed someone too hard, forced them into too tight a corner, causing them distress, anger, sometimes humiliation. You'll know when you've done it because you'll have mixed emotions afterwards. What could have been a point well made and a discussion worth having has been rendered a side dish amidst a more unpleasant episode.
There's someone in my extended family who's frequently been right in all the wrong ways, and often with the best of intentions. Even when what drives her is love and compassion, she poisons it all with an uncanny ability to be clumsy, thoughtless, and blind to the motivations of others. Down the years, and long before I knew her she was doing the same; seeking to control, unable to allow others room to breathe emotionally. The result? Nobody tells her anything, or at least not until later. And the moment she learns this, a hornets nest of agitation explodes within her and the cycle of clumsiness continues, noise and debris hurled in all directions.
For the record, I've always got on well with her; I've been largely spared too much discomfort by virtue of the fact that the very first time she tried it on she was left in no doubt that she was firing across the wrong bow. I'm a fairly gentle soul, but I'm nobody's punchbag, and when required I have no problem speaking clearly and directly into a situation. This is what I did with her, and the result has been a substantially easier ride. What I'm trying to ask is whether sometimes we allow those closest to us to fall into self destructive patterns that cause friction with others and harm to themselves? Do we sometimes take the easier road and remain silent when a few words spoken firmly and with love might have challenged the behaviour? How much of their conduct is the result of our failure to speak plainly? Can we do more? Should we?
What I'm not saying is that we should be trying to get people to conform to our expectations all the time. That's excessive control, which is a massive character flaw. What I'm wondering is whether the balance can be struck whereby we accommodate people's quirks yet also have the guts to stick our heads over the proverbial parapet when need be?
As always, I'm just thinking aloud. Publicly, as I'm apt to do. Just wanted to throw the ideas out and see where they landed.

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