Did you ever see the movie “The Prince of Tides?”
As part of a therapy session, a gentleman recounts a terrible incident in his childhood. While his father (a commerical fisherman) was away, escaped convicts broke into his family’s isolated home, raping him, his sister and his mother. His older brother came upon the scene and killed the convicts with a shotgun.
After the incident, his mother instructed them all to clean up the mess, take baths and put on fresh clothing while she made supper. When their father came home, no mention was made of the incident.
It was as if pretending it didn’t happen would make it go away.
If you were to watch the rest of the movie, you would see how the incident itself affected the family members for the rest of their lives.
I’ve often wondered when that sort of behavior started. You know, avoiding things. I grew up in a small town and there was plenty of that going on. Most people would choose to avoid conflict or incident, dealing with matters by talking behind someone’s back. People who came right out and said things were thought to be too bold, too forward, or basically just uncouth.
In small towns, especially the one I grew up in, you weren’t supposed to be “too” anything.
I think part of the trend must have started in the early days. Life was tough. People didn’t live as long and were poor. Losing children was common. Hardscrabble lives. People were supposed to be tough and didn’t have time for emotional stuff.
I’m not sure if it’s a Midwestern thing or a worldly thing, but I think people feel that if they bring things up to discuss them, they will appear weak. Some people are afraid to talk about conflict or touchy subjects because they tend to get emotional.
If we appear not to care, keep our mouths shut and just avoid everything, no one has to be harmed in any way.
That’s another part of the whole avoidance movement. People think it’s OK just to stop talking. Shut down communication completely. Look the other way and refuse to speak.
Sometimes, it eventually works itself out and one day, people resume dialogue with one another and simply forget what may have caused them to clam up.
Some, however, choose to keep the silent treatment going for years. I’ve known people myself who don’t look the other person in the eye or speak to them ever again. This happens with good friends, spouses and family members.
Who started that trend and who thought it was a good idea?
I think a number of folks could reiterate stories just like this. They can most likely tell you about people in their communities who have become enemies or people who simply stopped communicating with one another. I’ll bet we all know someone like that.
I’ve often wondered how easy it may have been to repair so many relationships. What if both parties involved were just willing to set aside their pride and talk to each other?
“Here’s how I was hurt. How did I hurt you? What are you really angry about? How can we fix it? How much does our relationship mean to us?”
What if we could wake up in the morning and set aside our pride. What if we were always bathed in humility and ready to turn the other cheek? What if relationships meant more to us than our pride?
We should have some type of National Hash-It-Out Day. There probably already is. I’ll bet Hallmark already created it.
What if we had such a day? We could make a list of people we had issues with and just cash it all in. Go for broke and lay it all on the table, telling the person everything we feel and letting them know that we’d like to mend fences?
Be the bigger person. Be the one who makes the first move. Forget our pride. Stop speculating and holding back. Start talking. Get it all said.
I’m thinking good things would happen.