Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do Debates Stress You Out?

Well, DO they?

Watching the Presidential Debate last night, I realized how tense I was. Not because I was upset over what I was/wasn't hearing. Not because I haven't made a decision on whom to vote for (I have.). Nope.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat, shoulders hunched, and a wrinkled brow because I hate the actual act of conflict of any kind. I cringe at the thought of people arguing and/or raising their voices. I actually feel relief when two opposing parties find anything on which they can agree.

My husband laughed at me when I confessed this realization. I can't blame him. It's weird, I know. Especially if you know me, at all.

I am certainly not a shrinking violet. I have been known to raise my voice at family members and friends every so often. I have even been heard arguing with the occasional stranger. BUT, only when truly upset and provoked. It takes quite a lot for me to pipe up and initiate any kind of debate with people with whom I'm really not familiar.
Usually what "does it" for me is something that involves one of my kids.
The old "mother lioness" phenomenon, I guess. Then, there's NO holding me back. I'm a virtual maniac. You moms out there are probably familiar with this feeling.

Other than that, I really can't stomach conflict, no matter how small it may be. Even witnessing someone else's conflicts causes me to feel physically ill: stomach hurts, face burns, fists clench, shoulders hunch. I try to get away from the source of conflict as quickly as possible.

So, watching last night's debate was a physically and emotionally grueling task for me. Really. Don't laugh. OK, at least don't grin too widely.

I really felt it was part of my duty as a registered voter and citizen of the United States to watch the entire debate, paying close attention to the candidates' answers. It was my thirst to stay informed (and opinionated!) that quelled most of my fears of watching the debate.
And, I made it through to the end.
I am glad I did, too.

I'm sure that a someone trained in the psychiatric area would have a field-day with my admission. Probably, this professional could trace my weird problem to my childhood. Hey, even I could do that! But, what good would that really do now?

What concerns me is not my inability to watch two politicians debate national and international issues. I'm not even concerned that I find myself looking for the nearest emergency exit when the shopper ahead of me in the checkout line begins an argument with the cashier.

What truly concerns me is that when "push comes to shove", I get shoved... a lot.
All because I don't want to "make waves" and start a shouting match.

I want to be able to firmly stick to my guns when the chauvinistic Karate club owner insists that I don't deserve a refund for 8 of the 10 classes I paid for (but my kids didn't attend), even though the class didn't follow any karate training known to mankind and the instructor was verbally abusive to the kids. I couldn't even get the owner to apologize to me! Granted this guy is probably an enormous jerk to everyone, but even after arguing with him for 20 minutes, I still came away with only a panic attack. (By the way, avoid enrolling your kids in anything named the Kids Karate Club!)

I want to tell the mail carrier that when I tell her that the person to whom she's delivering some mail to has not lived at my address in nine years, she is obligated to take the mail back to the post office and inform the postmaster. She should not hand it back to me, shrug and walk away. Am I supposed to chase this woman down and place the erroneously addressed mail in her cart? How about when I complain to the postmaster and get the phone-equivalent of the same shrug the mail carrier gave me? I spend the rest of my day feeling impotent anger that eats away at me.

OK, go ahead. Call me overly sensitive. Ask me why other people can debate effectively and get what they want. Or, debate effectively, still not get what they want, but walk away without it ever bothering them again.

Or, better yet, tell me how you feel about debates, whether you are part of them, or just witnessing one.

Do you ever feel like I do? Does it bother you to see two people engaged in a verbal confrontation? Do you ever feel like you get taken advantage of because you cannot stand the idea of confrontation?

Do you have the opposite reaction to mine? How do you feel when you see a debate? How do you empower yourself to achieve what you desire, no matter how trivial? How do you walk away from a confrontation and not let it eat away at you?

Let me know, before I have to come over there and kick some.......

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