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Learning to Argue with a Man

April 21, 2016

I’m learning to argue with a man. Mr. Houston pissed me off when he abruptly ended a conversation because he was “turned off,” by something I said.

He was pushing some self-improvement seminar on me. A $500, 3-day workshop that had apparently changed the lives of his peers. I told him I was happy that he would be attending but that if I had a spare $500, a self-improvement seminar would the last thing I would use it for.

“What if it’s really good for you?” he asked.

“There are lots of things that could be good for me. That doesn’t mean I should spend $500 to do them.” I replied.

After he ended our phone call, I was pissed. I stewed all night and the next day. I thought of all the things I might say to him. I would send him an e-mail. Yeah. That would do it. How dare he imply that I wasn’t interested in self improvement. He had no idea what I’ve been through the past 4-5 years. He doesn’t know me.

No, no Marie. Let it be. Let him contact you and if you never hear from him again, so be it. He was just another temporary thing anyway, I told myself. My thoughts immediately went to the worst case scenario. He didn’t like me anymore. He was a jerk. This was the end of this little fling. Whatever. I didn’t care. It wasn’t going to work out anyway. 

The next day he texted, “Are you mad at me because of what I said.”

“Yup,” I replied. He apologized. I went off on him.

“I’m not a follower,” I wrote. “I don’t do things just because someone else does it, especially if money is involved.”

He apologized again and admitted that this had been a problem with his ex-wife. He would get annoyed when she didn’t want to do what he did or thought she should do. He was wrong, he admitted. He apologized profusely.

“Are you still coming to Houston?” he cajoled. I had decided to offer to go there Saturday evening after a long day of work and friend obligations and come back Sunday. He had come to Lafayette. So I felt like I owed him a visit. One night and a day was better than nothing and I knew I wouldn’t have a free weekend for over a month.
“I think so,” I said. And then I was over it.

This brief, less than 12 hour non-event was new for me. I had immediately retreated into my shell of silence and doom, a familiar tactic, perfected over decades. My ex, Mr. K would never have asked me, “Are you mad at me for what I said?” He too, would have retreated into his fortress of solitary righteousness. He would have noticed the tension but not known how to break it. And if he had asked that question and if I had dared to say, “Yes. I am mad at you,” he would have turned the whole thing around on me, blamed me for being mad at him and by the time the hours or days or weeks of brooding, blame, counter-blame, accusations, criticisms, defensive counter-attacks and crying were over, I would have fallen into a depressive episode, wondering if anything would ever change and how long I could survive being in a relationship that didn’t even allow me to be upset, justifiably or not and express it openly without retribution and despair.

By the time Mr. Houston and I were talking on the phone that night I was excited to pack a little bag, fill up the car with gas and drive over to Houston. We had a lovely couple of days together, with no mention of self-improvement seminars and no lingering tension.

I had a disagreement with a man. I spoke my mind. He apologized. We moved on. Is that what normal people do? It’s pretty cool. I like it.

 

 

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