Monday, July 02, 2018

An Unexpected Turn of Conversation

During a recent conversation about a current event, I was brought into close quarters with the threat of ending a relationship - something that has not happened to me in a very long time.  It occurred at a discussion of general nature, but somehow turned to a specific event  in the current media.  The phrase "This answer is really important to our relationship" was used. 

My mind froze.  I had no answer ready at hand.

I have read of these circumstances occurring and more lately in certain circles, the ending of friendship and relationships over a particular political or religious belief.  And I suppose that in all fairness these things have materialized in my own life as well, albeit as a simple drifting apart to maintain the peace.  I can honestly say this was the first time in a very long time  that it has occurred.

Ultimately, of course, this sort of conversation goes nowhere.  Very few people are willing to immediately and right there end a relationship in the midst of a discussion, perhaps a heated one to boot.  What will happen - at least what happened to me - was an instinctive and immediate curling of the soul into a ball that in some ways I do not know if I will ever come out of.

Finding another person's boundaries at the wrong moment is always a terrifying thing.  In one second the genteel facades we all maintain to stay in communication falls away and we are forced to recognize that there is a limit which we will never be able to go beyond - perhaps more importantly, will never be willing to even test again.  The world of that relationship shrinks a bit and from then on, only the safe and non-controversial topics are discussed - until often they, too, fall by the wayside in the general loss of communication.

This has happened once before with someone else, from an angle and a place I did not expect.  And sadly - tragically perhaps - nothing was ever the same.  In the rush and passion to prove a point, the long term goal of relationship - authentic trust and sharing - is shattered, perhaps never to return fully.

8 comments:

LindaG said...

Understand how you feel. It has happened to us with our oldest. We still keep in touch, and are still friendly; but there is an awkwardness when we talk.
God bless.

Glen Filthie said...

There used to be some old nickel about how there's three things you never talk about: religion, politics, and something else I don't remember. Those topics are almost sure-fire ways to start a fight. But these days, it seems that that is exactly what people want - is a fight!

I can't advise ya, TB. I've been exiled from two families now because I have the wrong opinions and am a racist/homophobe/fascist-literally-worse-than-Hitler.

PeteForester1 said...

This is a sign of the times. You have one "side," who thinks whatever makes you happy is OK. Then there's the "side" I'm on; the one that sees our country going to hell on a rocket sled on rails. There's really nothing in the middle anymore. I had this issue with a relative, during a discussion on "gun" control. She said I was "robbing her of her opinion. I told her that no, she had just stated her opinion, which was that it was OK for her and her ilk to legislate my rights away; that therein lay the rub. Things just haven't been the same since.

I guess it comes down to this; how necessary is it to be right? In the above case, I felt it was necessary...

Truthfully; what that person said to you; that your answer was important to the relationship; that was a threat. It would make me question the value of that relationship... and would most likely make me walk away from it...

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Linda, it is certainly not what I expected. And yes, it does create an unspoken barrier where there was none before.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Glen, I always heard it as only two - never discuss religion and politics - and my maternal and paternal grandparents, who were on very different sides of those issues, did exactly that and got along okay the few times they got together a year.

I will be fair - I do not discuss either with almost anyone I have not already spent some time with to see if they can have a discussion (versus an argument). The ones that surprise me are the ones like this incident, which seem to come out of left field.

Leigh said...

Interesting post. Seems to be common nowadays. Because of that I'm always fascinated by the works of writers like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens. It's the conversations that fascinate me. Conversation was once an art and social pastime (unlike today) and it amazes me that people portrayed in those conversations could strongly disagree and yet maintain a civil relationship. I think what we've lost is respect of others. If they truly have a right to their opinion, I should respect that and not be threatened by it. But then I suppose that requires some degree of self confidence. Maybe it's just as well I'm a conversational klutz.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

It is true, Leigh. Reading Austin (whom I have read a great deal of) or Dickens (whom I have not read enough enough) would cure anyone of that. We have abandoned conversation for the keyboard (yes, I know, just like I am doing here).

And yes, you are correct - the underlying cause is a lack of respect for other people as people. Which strikes me as odd in an age where supposedly respect of the individual is paramount.

And yes, as you might guess, I do not engage in conversation much. It is just easier.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Pete, you are correct: we really are separating into separate camps (thus supporting my opinion - of many years now - that we should simply split the country up peaceably before it breaks less peaceably). Too often today, "my opinion" is confused with "the way things should be" - and thus to disagree with it is to become not just an opposing view but the enemy.

I am not terribly hopeful. On the whole, I think things end poorly.