Compromise is so hard, because it has to mean that the other person is listening… and you can’t make them. You can’t make anybody do anything, but in a relationship, it’s hard to convey needs and have the other person adjust their behavior. I am not speaking to anyone directly, just focusing on the weakness in myself. I have a hard time with not winning, even when it’s not a competition. If I knew the answer as to how to fix it, I would probably still be married. I would have made a great lawyer, because I will argue a point until you agree with me whether you want to or not. I have heard over and over in my life, “I just can’t win with you.” Sometimes, that’s true. I am so verbally flexible that few people have the chutzpah to stay with me all the way to the end of an argument, because even without meaning to, I am exhausting.
I want to examine every detail, every aspect, every feeling, every behavior. Most people don’t want to go that deep, and usually my response to “I can’t win with you” is, “yes. You can. We’re just not done yet.” It’s like there’s two sides to a coin in my brain. I want to “win” the argument, and at the same time, to me, a win doesn’t mean I am victorious. It means that we talked through it all the way to the end. I am so much more willing to give when I understand the problem, and it takes me a Sherlock Holmes amount of information before I can make a decision- the exception being that I can’t deduce as fast as he can, so arguments take me a lot of time to process. I want to get all the way inside your brain, know everything you think about a situation. Most people don’t have that kind of endurance emotionally, and to me, “I can’t win with you” is just throwing up their hands in exhaustion and walking off to end the argument so that I don’t have a complete picture with which to ponder.
One of my favorite lines in an argument is “stay with me, Jimbo.” I ask deep, probing questions that most people don’t answer because they don’t know the answer themselves. They don’t know themselves that well, so how could they possibly tell me? It causes frustration because they’re not going as deep as I am. Very few people can. As an INFJ, I am introspective to a fault. If you ask me something about myself, I’ve probably already thought about it. In fact, I like it when people ask me those questions, because I am bad at small talk because I don’t care.
I don’t want to talk about trivial things. I want to talk about big ideas rather than small ones… even in arguments. I want to break us both open like coconuts so that we can get to that vulnerable place of what’s really wrong, instead of the thing you’re actually telling me. I can see behind the mask. Arguments are never about small things. The small things cover up the big things, and I will probe until I find it.
I am also not very good at having my feelings invalidated, the source of just about every bit of anger I’ve ever had in an argument. If I bring up something that’s bothering me and the response is something akin to “it’s all in your head,” it brings up a lot of childhood stuff that still makes me angry and I get enraged to the point where I’m not even fighting with you anymore. I’m fighting with me and the ghosts in my head. I don’t need people to say that I’m right, only that my reality is my reality. That how I view things is important because logic and emotion are not the same, just like science and religion. Just because you don’t feel the same things I feel doesn’t mean that my feelings are wrong or bad- just different. I would much rather have someone say to me that they disagree with my assessment, but they heard me, and better yet, heard something that resonated with them even if they didn’t agree with everything.
I hear truth even when I’m angry, and hearing truth is the easiest way for me to calm myself. My whole body will relax when we reach a point of connection, an aha! moment where we both feel the same way. Sometimes that takes more than a few minutes to achieve.
I am many things, but able to work in soundbites is not one of them. Sometimes, my questions are repetitive because I want to go back to something we talked about earlier and I don’t remember what you said, but I remember how I felt when you said it and I want to go back there and explore it again because there was something I was going to say and we moved on before I could respond.
It’s tiresome, but worth it to me when I grok a situation rather than just skimming the surface. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I don’t want to be a Southerner anymore- the type person that covers up the deep and dark with a lot of cake and icing. Secrets kill relationships. Old tapes from childhoods kill relationships when the other partner doesn’t know about them and doesn’t bother to ask.
We all have monsters in the dark rooms of our minds that we’re afraid to take out and examine, because we don’t realize that when the light shines into them, it was a coat the whole time.
As I have begun to explore my dark side, I’ve found coats, toys, Legos, you name it. When I flipped on the switch, everything looked different.
It’s a new thing I’m trying out.