Photo of LeBron James courtesy ABC News
I really hate conflict. You wouldn’t know it from my actions, but I do.
I hate having two ex-wives and not speaking with either, and practically losing my daughter, my precious first baby, in part because her mother and I can’t be civil and she felt she had to choose sides and she chose mommy.
I hate how my little sister and I haven’t talked in years and probably never will. I know there’s some bad karma floating in the sky above me because of this and I wish it, like the relationship, would just go away.
I hate the stress and turmoil and anger and frustration in my life because of my wife’s psycho ex-husband. I hate how much power he still has, and wields, over the people I love and therefore over me.
I hate always having to be tough and strong and powerful. I hate always finding things unacceptable and standing up for myself and others.
I even hate it when someone “unfriends” me in Facebook, taking the lazy way out instead of trying to find common ground. I’m opinionated but my mind isn’t closed. I know it’s silly but I feel sad when my number of friends drops, especially when it’s someone with whom I have common friends, as if I snuck into our group by mistake and really don’t belong.
The latest conflict that has me feeling out of sorts was with this guy who runs a website that I wrote for until last night. He embraces a set of editorial standards that he refuses to share with his writers – there’s nothing in writing or in stone, he said, but like pornography, he knows a violation when he sees it. His standards apparently include writing about Barack Hussein Obama as if he’s the Second Coming of Christ and avoiding references to marijuana lest impressionable young readers become compelled to run out and purchase water bongs and tie-dyed t-shirts and "The Best of Cheech & Chong."
When I asked, online, why he recruited other writers if he only wants submissions with which he agrees, he jumped all over me like a gymnast on a trampoline. I responded that not even my wife can use such a tone with me and she does a lot more for me than he does and I wished him a good life. He then sent a lengthy follow-up message accepting my decision to disassociate myself from his website – whew! – and pointing out that he would have fired me for my insubordination (his word) if he could have. (Since he didn’t pay me a penny to write for him, I didn’t share his view that he was my “boss.”)
I acknowledge that the guy can do whatever he wants with his site. I get that he doesn’t have to issue writer’s guidelines or share his “standards” in advance if he doesn’t feel like it. And I know that in the whole scheme of things this means about as much as LeBron James in the fourth quarter of a basketball game. But it still throws me off when someone talks to me as if I’m their child and a relationship – any relationship – goes sour.
Thank goodness I didn’t post photos of myself in my boxers on his site. That really would have sparked demands for my resignation.
The older I get, the less interested I am in confrontation or capitulation. It takes time and energy to engage with people who see things differently; I’d just as soon get the last word in and walk away. But I’ve come to realize that human connections are all that matter, really. Love and respect and happiness and comfort come from family and friendships and relationships, not clever blog essays and Facebook posts that are liked a lot. It doesn’t really matter if someone talks to me as if I’m a child, I need to remember, because children don’t have beer bellies or need bifocals. It doesn’t really matter if someone does what they shouldn’t or won’t do what they should; I’m not their judge and they’re not mine. I need to keep in mind that I am who I am, good and bad, no matter what anyone else says or does.
The late psychoanalyst Mary Esther Harding once said, “Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.” Sometimes it’s a drag being so damn conscious.