By John R. Greenwood
The word confrontation brings me back to childhood and a darker side of my youth that I don’t hide or bury--I don’t embrace it either. Arguing, sarcasm, and yelling were a large part of my young life, the common denominator; alcohol. It saturated our family as far back as I can remember. It was thinned out of the picture when I married my wife. She and I vowed to remove the impact of alcohol on our young family. Although I enjoy a cold beer as much as anyone else, it was very seldom found in our home during our child rearing years and beyond.
As a boy growing up, Friday night rituals revolved around some form of alcohol and an argument. Surliness and confrontation swirled like a harsh March wind. These fights between mom and dad would intensify to the point of door slamming and dish breaking and last long into the night. There were many times when my sister and I would sit at the top of the stairs waiting for the next crash or nasty comment. Sarcasm grew with each popped top. Sleep came only by squeezing my pillow tight over my head, deep within my bed. Tears and sobbing for the real life nightmare to end were common.
Why share this story? Why open up a past that is just that? I felt a need to explain why I run from confrontation like a man from commitment. There is a world full of people with this story and many much worse. Millions drag a heavy bag and never shed an ounce. I survived just fine. I want to be very clear. I had a great childhood in so many other ways that they have taken precedent over the uglier side. My parents loved me. They taught me common courtesy and manners. They instilled work ethic and honesty. They built a strong foundation while the earthquake was shaking the house. I love them and miss them. They had cracks. We all do.
I seize up like an engine void of oil every time an argument erupts. I hate nitwit reality shows filled with finger pointing and hand waving morons. I despise politics and the useless character bashing that ensues. When a confrontation does land at my table I stammer, stutter, and collapse like an $8 lawn chair.
What I do embrace is cooperation and compromise. I seek them out. Positive reinforcement is my motto, my mantra. It feels better. It fuels better. It makes more sense. Minds run better filled with goodness.
I will struggle to post this piece, but I will. There are others out there who have travelled a similar path. Rough and bumpy paths can lead to beautiful places. Many of them do. It is important to watch your steps as you go, someday you may need to return. We all need to remember where we came from.