I am in many ways a very tolerant person. I’ve faced with supernatural calmness challenges that most people couldn’t fathom. I spent far too long waiting for my marriage to wind down. I’m flexible and easy-going in most situations, and my older children will tell you I’m quite open-minded compared to many parents.
One thing I can’t stand, however, is any person or entity challenging my honor or that of someone I care for. When that happens, I simply cannot remain neutral; I fly at once into mother bear mode. It doesn’t matter if my compatriot is equipped to fend for him or herself. I will do and say whatever it takes to square up the record. It’s a knee-jerk reaction I’ve explored before in a letter called The Arrogance of Fixers.
Elaina and I talked about this subject today. She’s always cautioning me not to dive in before my friends have had a chance to fend for themselves. She also advises me not let myself be affected by opinions that really don’t matter. I can see her point. It takes a toll on me, more and more so the older I get. I’m still feeling the after effects of a situation this morning: a tight stomach and chest, an elevation in blood pressure. I plan to implement some breathing exercises when I retire for bed.
Elaina would say that’s only one of many reasons I should not interfere. In this situation, however, I did not go seeking trouble—trouble sought me. Trouble misread the tea leaves and lobbed false accusations at a colleague and me. I fumed for a while, longer than I should have, and in the end exacted a swift, machete-sharp response. It felt damn good.
Do not mess with me; do not question my integrity or judgment. I won’t tolerate that kind of blind doubt. Anyone who knows me should know I’m as honest as a person can be. Imperfect but honest. Never a liar. Never a cheater. And never do I steal. Accuse me of those sins and you will feel the heat of my fury, for such is an insult of epic proportions. Accuse my loved ones of those sins and I’ll react the same way.
I put up with many things that would aggravate others, and for the most part I try to choose battles wisely, but I’ll never remain sanguine in the face of baseless attacks. I’m wired to be the Champion of Justice, even if it bloody kills me. Which it might, so maybe it’s time I revised my tactics when handling difficult people.
Because my personality prevents me from shrugging off trouble, my usual reaction is to attempt to patch breakdowns and smooth over offenses. The effort exhausts me and rarely makes any difference. How can I change this unhappy dynamic? Somehow I must not let troublemakers lure me down that futile path. The moment I find myself needing to clarify, I should take a step back and say to myself, “Trouble!”
And then I should simply sever all ties.
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Great letter, Colleen! 😀
I concur. “Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, always stay on the sunny side of life.” (lyrics from “The Bare Necessities” sung in the movie The Jungle Book)