Declining Invitations to Arguments

When I was in my late twenties, I hit a weird phase in my life. Friendships were changing, I had what Sophia Petrillo would call a ‘yutz parade’ in and out of my life (for those not in the know, a series of crappy dating experiences and relationships), and my career was taking off. The latter was wonderful, but very scary.

At the time, I decided to seek help. I went to a life coach/therapist to help me work though things in my life. While my family and closest friends were wonderful and supportive, I needed an unbiased third party to talk to and help me work through things.

My life coach, Lexi (name changed) talked to me about many topics I had been struggling with, including how I react to things and problems in relationships. I am not going to air my dirty laundry here (speaking of which, I should DO some laundry, but that is another story), but one of the things I realized is how I react to things can have a negative impact on my relationships. I am very type A, very emotional and have the typical New York Italian temper. Hard headed and red hot temper….a firecracker, if you will. While having a big personality can be an attribute in some parts of my life, it unfortunately does not bode well in others.

I told Lexi that this was an issue and sometimes, when I feel attacked, I would attack right back or react to things in anger. She listened to me explain this and told me something important, something I had forgotten until now. She told me next time I am in this situation to tell the person (or myself) that just because I am invited into an argument does not mean I have to attend. I was well within my rights to tell the person I did not want to argue, and I would benefit by walking away and allowing myself to calm down.

Fast forward several years. I am in the same situation. Career is going well (still not quite where I want to be, but I am getting there), friendships and relationships are changing and I sometimes still react to things without thinking when I feel like I am being attacked.

Again, I won’t air my dirty laundry, but the latter recently cost me someone in my life. I felt attacked and hurt by this person and reacted in anger and without thinking. I said things I regret and now this person is no longer the amazing, wonderful part of my life they once were. That is a huge regret and something I have to live with for the rest of my life….or until I am granted forgiveness.

I was thinking about this recently and for some reason, Lexi’s words popped into my mind. I realized I attended an argument I did not want to be a part of because I was reacting in anger due to a misunderstanding. Had I not attended said argument, things may have worked out differently, and said person may still be a part of my life.

While I may not get this person back in my life and while some things in the misunderstanding still make me angry, I am now able to own my part of the issue and realize my own faults. I now know sometimes, such as in this case, the best thing to do is to NOT attend the argument and simply walk away until I (or actually both of us) have calmed down. I also learned that just because I am angry, I do not have the right to invite people to arguments. This is something I will try and remember as I move forward in life and hope that I will not repeat the same mistakes.

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