< May 15, 1998 >

Conflict Management

The sky was wild last night as we drove home. There were sheets of rain along with black clouds mixed and whorled with fluffy white and pure blue sky. The slanting rays of the setting sun brought fire to the sky and lit it from end to end, jagged cracks of brilliance amid curtains of darkness.

A spectacular show for everyone as they trundled their slow ways home.

I got to talk with Markleford, real time yesterday, for just a bit. He decided that it would be better to work things through rather than just drop them at that time. Giving me the slack I was asking for and needed for the resolution. To apologize in some ways for my own perfectionistic personality and also to hear from him what he understood of the situation. He usually has a few insights that just floor me, and one of the interesting side issues has been that when he reads about my perception of a conversation here he isn't threatened, but when the letters come straight from me to him, they can be scary-bad. Especially when I'm writing him when something in me gets kicked hard by a criticism that he didn't mean to be personal, but I take it as such. I have a tendency to take criticism very, very badly. Usually because my internal structure is such that I have to do things right or even perfectly and if I don't something's wrong with me.

Bad Liralen. There's been quite a few close people that have run smack into that bandsaw. It's the main reason I got off the Internet because with my verbal capabilities when I go on the all offensive it gets really nasty and I don't like what I do or how I do what I do when I'm in that kind of mood. Bryant accidentally hit it after a game, once, Carl got hit by it when he crit'ed the layout of this web page, John gets whacked by it on various occasions, and it's never pretty or fun or even useful until I get my head back and I actually try to figure out what the hell it was I was doing. All the others get the benefit of sometimes real-time feedback to kick me out of the loop. John has the benefit of nearly a decade of coping with this and he acknowledges that I'm getting better about it, but we both know that I still have the tendency. Markleford now nearly never gets either real-time nor that much experience with actually dealing with me positively when I'm in that kind of mood.

One problem is that Markleford has a tendency to criticize everything and anything he finds wrong, and expects those that he tells to take it with equanimity. That they shouldn't take it as a personal criticism. He didn't seem to get the simple reality that I often do take it personally, no matter how he meant it. And unlike others, he doesn't back off when we're in the midst of it all. The way things resolved with Carl and usually with John has been that they re-examine how they said what they said or how the criticism was really meant and we figured out a solution that is aminable to both parties. Bryant's blowup turned into a time-out on both sides and we both figured out it was silly at about the same time and so that worked out well.

Mark did acknowledge that his tendency to just shut up and be quiet when I blow up at him was something that aggravates the situation even more. When someone goes completely quiet on me, my imagination goes crazy.

So between his tendency to point out when I'm wrong and mine to blow up at it, it makes for really, really bad conversational dynamics when we're both low on energy or ability to cope with the world in general, not just each other. I realized, in this conversation, that it was likely the core of all the problems he and I have had for quite some time.

So. How to deal with the reality?

The easiest thing for me is to first realize that he is going to act the way he acts no matter how I think he 'should'. Or how I think he 'should' cope with my tendencies, so I just gotta acknowledge that he's gonna always tell me what's wrong with what I might say (note: not necessarily what's wrong with *me*). And we talked through the possibility that I just give him the feedback of a mood meter or something where I can tell him if I'm gonna be able to cope or not with it. It'll not only give him a useful barometer, it'll give me a conscious handle on how I behave, which isn't a bad thing at all.

I think, also, in the midst of all that, that he did acknowledge that he now understands that I do blow up at being told I'm wrong. He still thinks I shouldn't. I sometimes wonder if it's my defense mechanism to make sure, now, that I don't just get steamrollered to do everything the way everyone else wants me to. But I'm not sure. Anyway, he seemed willing to try and cope when he could, but also communicated that sometimes he can't.

So, on my part, I'll try and keep communication with him at a more positive level that's less focal on 'right/wrong' issues of his or my personality and the conversations were going really well when he and I were talking mostly about our lives and what was going well or badly in them.

We'll see how it works out.

John and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and got fresh Alaskan halibut and spring asparagus as well as a nice frozen Remlinger Farms blueberry and apple pie. I love their pies and likely will not make my own handmade ones anymore so long as they're in business, as they do such a fantastic job of it.

When the JF and I got home, Fezzik was starting to wander up the driveway, and he happily ran back to the house on seeing us. Dad was already home and watching TV, and he asked if it would be okay to keep watching or if it would get in our way. We reassured him that it wouldn't be a problem, and I got started on my exercises as John did stuff around the house.

I did all the stretches, leg-lifts, squats, chair-scoots, hamstring curls, and lunges I needed to do, and then started the pie baking before I hopped onto the stationary bike. Two and a half miles later, I wandered up to shower as John started dinner, and he had a question as to whether or not to cover it, and actually answered it himself before I got into the shower. By the time I got back down stairs, the air was filled with the scent of well baked fish and boiling water. By the time I was icing, John had dinner on the table for all of us.

Like most our dinners it was pretty simple. Halibut baked in lemon with dill, a nice crust Italian bread, and fresh asparagus blanched in hot water. Yum. It was very good. Dad enjoyed it a lot.

We actually watched the last episode of Seinfeld while we ate, too. That was kinda funny after five years of never even having seen an episode it was kinda weird to watch as they went through all kinds of stuff from the show itself. Strange show.

When it was done the pie was done and had cooled just a bit. So we cut pieces and had hot apple blueberry pie with real vanilla ice cream. Dad enjoyed that a lot, too. Hoorah! I enjoyed it a lot, too. I love the plump berries, thick apple slices and lovely crisp crusts they make. So that was really nice to have.

My knee still hurts at night. Mostly the MCL, it seems. The ACL's healed up very well and the knee itself hasn't had a problem, so far as I can tell. The MCL aches at night, though. So the painkillers are necessary to get to sleep, and I always wake up around 2 or 3 a.m. and have to either take some more or toss and turn a bit to try and sleep.

Ha! Found out this morning that our bonuses are coming Monday. I'm completely jazzed. Yay!

So, back to work...

Took the time, this lunch time, to actually go out for a walk, just wandering through the various structures of businesses around work. Not too far, as I only had to walk for fifteen minutes, but that was a fairly good wander through the two nearby industrial parks. The sky, which had been solid grey all morning started to break up.

Now, about 5 pm, the sky is clear blue out and a wind is blowing pretty steadily. Nice out. Sunny, gorgeous in many ways.

Spent fifteen minutes after the walk just lying on the floor of my office with my legs propped up on a chair. It's good to have an office, comforting even. For some reason a whole bunch of people just aren't in today. There was an engineering meeting at 10 am and only a third of the engineers we have actually showed up, mostly because everyone else was either home or gone or on vacation or something. Quiet day.

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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