Something happened yesterday that never happened before. An angry exchange became friendly. Because I was able to step back, realize that my “opponent” was not my enemy. I pulled back and gave him a chance to back off too. We both benefited.

SwansWatercolor_05 - Marilyn Armstrong

It happens all the time on the Internet. We get into heated exchanges and forget we aren’t enemies. I have hot buttons. If someone pushes one of those buttons, I react. Without caution or intelligence. Ungraciously, I lash out because I was a battered child and sometimes, battered wife.

fobidden planet poster

The shadows of bad experiences don’t completely disappear, no matter how much therapy we get, how much we forgive. Fear and rage seem to come out of nowhere. Sometimes, I see someone else reacting like me. Which lets me do what I did yesterday — step back, take a breath and cool down.

It reminds me of one of my favorite creaky old science fiction movies, Forbidden Planet (1956). In the end, the civilization of the Krel was destroyed by monsters from the Id, by which they meant the unconscious. We are more sophisticated today and use different terminology, but the concept remains sound.

I am always in danger from my personal demons. The nasty ones I don’t even know are lurking. Everyone has demons — no one has lived a pain-free life.

A remarkable thing happened. Yesterday, a fight ended without bitterness before anyone said something unforgivable. How cool is that, eh?

Categories: Blogging, Personal

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19 replies

  1. I don’t know if I have ever had a heated exchange on the Internet. Face to face is another story. And stepping back sounds like a good idea. I try to remember, although I don’t always put it into practice – “respond, don’t react”.

    Thanks for sharing. Good for you 🙂


  2. That’s a rare experience. Remarkable given the lack of civility and patience exhibited these days.


  3. Very cool, indeed, and for me very timely! Cool headedness is not my strength, to put it very mildly…..


  4. Bitterness is a wasted emotion and you walk a higher path!


  5. WOW! I can relate to your story!! This reminds me of a situation between my older sister and I after I told her that I had breast cancer, she did something which took away from me, my right to inform the rest of the estranged family. I tried to discuss with her why I was angry and hurt (anger comes after being hurt). She would not listen, blatantly told me that I was “absolutely right” in a sarcastic, kiss-my-ass kind of way and we have never communicated since. I have tried to file this incident away in the folder, “reasons not to trust even family,” along with many other similar stories in that very folder.


    • Some people — best friends and family — are invested in who we used to be. If we change, they reject it and us. They don’t want a new person. They want the old one with whom they had a special relationship. They may reject us in small ways and sometimes, huge ones. It often emerges as betrayal or a major intrusion past the bounderies of friendship and family. At the heart of it is that we are who they want.

      Friends and close family get jealous when they feel they are losing us.. It doesn’t matter what caused the change — sickness, work, just time. Whatever. They may do dispicable things. Unforgiveable. A former best friend never stopped telling me how well she knew me, even though we’d spent almost no time together for 30 years. She insisted she had the right to speak her mind. I had the right to cut her off and never speak to her again. It’s not that I can’t forgive her. I probably could. Maybe have. But fogiving isn’t the same as wanting to be friends with her anymore. I don’t have to hate her, but I don’t want to hang out with her either. It happens. And it will happen more as you get older. You change, some friends and relatives recognize the changes and and continue to love you. Others can’t handle it. If they can’t have the old you, they don’t want the new one. It’s sad.


  6. Thank you for sharing this, Marilyn – so pertinent to our times, both individually and globally, I feel. xxx


  7. I notice these sorts of internet exchanges all the times. It reminds me of road rage– the meanness that we can do when we are removed from the person (be it by a computer screen or a car window) is incredible. That’s really the thing that gets me about the internet, really. It gives us this golden opportunity to stay connected and connect across the globe, and yet we are also removed in a way that allows us to do things we wouldn’t face-to-face. Interesting thought!


    • That removal is sometimes a gift and sometimes a curse. Not being able to see and hear other people makes it easy to misundertand them. Body language helps communication and I often really miss it.


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