“If You Avoid The Conflict to Keep The Peace, You Start a War Inside Yourself … or … Why Liz and Glennon Are NOT Super-Heroes … ”

I’m not sure who exactly said those words (not about Liz and Glennon, and it wasn’t me) but I sure as hell know I have lived it.

Have you?

How many of us have gone to unimaginable lengths to allow someone else – our partner, our boss, our parents, even our children – to be comfortable while we ourselves exist in harrowing discomfort, trying with all our might NOT to upset the status quo?

For me, this was a life I lived for many years. Actually, it was two lives. Because for many years I lived one life in public and one life in private. Sometimes the “private” was just in my head but all the same, it was the fantasy life that appealed to me and my honest inner self. Not the outward life I was play-acting for my husband, family and friends.

It began in the early days of my relationship with my ex-husband. He had taken me to an old friend’s wedding, where I knew no one, and then promptly left me languishing in a giant ballroom while he got dragged off by an old “friend,” ostensibly to “meet up with the old gang!” Why I was not invited on the expedition is beyond me (I have my suspicions, old friend, dearest) but what was intolerable to me was the fact that my boyfriend did not seem to have a problem leaving me behind. In a room full of strangers!

Naturally, I brought this to his attention when he returned and we ended up in the hotel lobby bar, “discussing” the matter. I was none too pleased.

Ultimately he looked at me with a glare that only the truly smug can muster and spewed, “I don’t need this shit!”

Holy fuck!

He didn’t need my shit. That means he didn’t need me. And if he didn’t need me he would leave me. Not only in a hotel ballroom but forever. And I would be alone. Again. He was above my shit. Beyond my shit. Too good for my shit. It didn’t matter that his actions were disgraceful, he did not need my shit!

So I apologized. Probably groveled. Maybe offered up an extra-special time in bed. Whatever I did, it kept our relationship alive (if that’s what you call it) and set us on a course to an even larger explosion many years down the road. Because the rules had been established. The winner had been declared! Henceforth Vickie would be a good girl and not pester her man with her petty insecurities and emotions. Cause you know why … he did not need my shit!

And thus the war began. Not between him and me. Between me and me. The war in me erupted quietly and then as months and years went by that war seeped out of me, in ways not exactly pride-inducing. That is not to say I didn’t continue to try, on occasion, to show my true colours, in all their disgustingly messy glory, to my husband. I recall screaming one night, “I just want to throw this fucking marriage against the wall and see what sticks! Like goddamn spaghetti!”

His response was to walk out of the kitchen. He did not return for a few hours at which time Good-Girl-Vickie had politely returned. She apologized for causing a ruckus. She went to bed contritely. Because she KNEW he did not need this shit. And she was not ready (yet) to give up on the (fake) life she had constructed. Because it must be her fault, right? She was loud and demanding (when she wasn’t busy being good) and turns out nobody needed that shit.

But eventually the war won. Because even the Hundred Year War HAD to end. Eventually I got tired of living a life that was neither authentic nor battle-free. Because that’s the thing – when you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you begin the war within yourself. And the war within me was killing me just as violently as a fellow human stabbing me with a bayonet. My blood was spilling onto my child and my friends and my whole damn life. I truly believed that if I just sucked it up the entire fucking world would benefit! They all loved me in my marriage. Me in my rightful place in the world. Me living the dream with a man who was obviously comfortable in our manufactured détente. What I did not realize (until it was far too late to respond civilly) was that I would never win the war inside of me as long as I was sacrificing ME to some greater good (or good-girl). I had to go … to go rescue me … from me.

Fun, right? Especially when there is a fellow Warrior waiting in the wings. Yep … that always makes surrender taste so much sweeter.

Which brings me to Liz and Glennon.

I love fabulous female writers and spiritual activists (or whatever you want to call them) who live their lives boldly (after, of course, living them bold-less) because they have seen the light and no longer give a shit if somebody doesn’t need their shit because they know what their shit is and their shit is valuable and righteous and hard-won and they have FOUGHT and STRIVED to be shit-free (if there is such a thing) because golly, girls, we all need to be REAL!

I agree.

What I see now with both of these fabulous (yet not fearless) women is they did NOT embark on their perilous journeys of authenticity WITHOUT someone to go to. WITHOUT another warrior waiting in the wings. WITHOUT a Plan B already in place. Sure, their futures were wrought with uncertainty and (in Liz’s case) guaranteed sorrow (her new beloved was terminal). But they had a NEW someone who gave a shit.

And that is huge. Having someone who gives a shit can definitely diminish the war in your soul.

Unlike Liz and Glennon though, my person (Warrior) who gave a shit, didn’t really … not for very long anyway … and in fairly short order I found myself alone, fighting the world solo and unguarded.

You know what? It was hard but it was worth it. It was worth it because I was only fighting the world. I was not fighting a fake reality and I was not fighting a war within my own soul.

I can handle the world.

A few nights ago I asked my beloved to engage in an exercise. A “couples’ exercise” that I thought would be enlightening (and useful). He stared at me with the most painful deer-in-headlights look and said “Vickie, I just can’t do this stuff. I am so sorry but I can’t!”

He did not say “I don’t need this shit.” He did not go for a long walk. He acknowledged that the problem was his and he begged (silently) that I acknowledge that too and still let him off the hook.

So I did.

There is no war raging in my breast. I do not feel slighted and betrayed. I have come to learn that humans are fragile and strong and scared and brave and authentic and sometimes … in need of understanding. I have also come to learn that sacrificing my own truthfulness for someone else’s comfort will not end well. And so a few night ago I responded, “Okay. My truthfulness, longing for YOUR truthfulness, is still here. But I accept that your wheelhouse is not cooperating. Maybe we’ll try another time.”

I said this NOT because I need his shit. I said this NOT because he did not offer shit. He offered truth and vulnerability AND he acknowledged that my request had merit yet still scared the shit out of him.

That shit I can handle.

I have no Plan B. Plan A has, for many years, been solid in my soul. If you don’t need my shit, I will not wither so that you can thrive. If you’re not sure what to do with my shit … I am more than willing to walk that path by your side.

There is no war.

And peace is an ongoing process.

That shit I understand.

About winesoakedramblings - The Blog of Vickie van Dyke

Writing is therapy. Wine is therapy. Writing while drinking wine is the best therapy. Reading while drinking can also be fun. Listening while drinking is also fun so check out my podcast! And then there's that book (memoir) that I wrote: Confessions of a Potty-Mouthed Chef: How to Cheat, Eat and be Happy! My life has provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Maybe something here will inspire you too? ~Vickie
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2 Responses to “If You Avoid The Conflict to Keep The Peace, You Start a War Inside Yourself … or … Why Liz and Glennon Are NOT Super-Heroes … ”

  1. Cathy Williams says:

    Me too, Vickie, me too! Until I found the strength to leave the shit with my two very young children. What a relief! It took me a few years to find my special someone (you know who he is).

  2. So happy for you, Cathy … and thank you for checking in! Keep on rocking your authentic life!

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