When I was a kid and my parents would fight, I would run and hide in the darkest corner of a closet in our home. I didn’t want to be caught in the crossfires. It was painful to hear my parents fight, and I thought if I could run away, or block them out maybe the pain that I felt would grow numb and disappear.
In my office today, I found myself eyeing the large space under my desk where my legs ought to be, desiring once again to hide from pain.
I learned to handle conflict growing up by ignoring it. I tried screaming & threatening for awhile, but thankfully my younger brother Michael didn’t let me do that for too long. I remember screaming at him for something or other when I was in high school, following in the model I had learned from my mother, and he turned to me and said, “I would have done it for you if you had asked nicely.” That was a wake-up call to me: I didn’t have to scream and threaten to get what I wanted.
But…I still didn’t know how to healthily handle conflict. I don’t remember my mother ever modeling an apology to us. I don’t think we ever uttered the words I’m sorry, or Please forgive me to each other. Gradually, we learned to ignore or patch our pains and grievances and simply move on. But…we never really did move on or forgive. I think that we kept a tab in our minds and hearts against each other, a list of wrongs that we brought up again and again as it suited us.