I do what you want, but you never let me do what I want! Justin had his heart set on the new BMW sports car, but Bernice wondered whether it was the best way of spending money at this point. There were other more important priorities like her business start up, the kids school fees and house repairs to consider. Justin blew up. “ You never let me have what I want! When you wanted to go to Costa Rica I agreed because I knew what that meant to you. I let you choose the living room furniture even though I hated it. Yet when something is important to me you pour cold water all over it, and make me feel selfish.”
Do you prefer showing your anger by giving someone the silent treatment? Now think of the time when a friend didn’t return your calls and you felt angry at being ignored. Perhaps you didn’t answer the phone when your friend did eventually call you back. You wanted to get your own back and punish your friend. It is a conscious and premeditated act of anger. Somehow this way of releasing anger is more acceptable, but not necessarily better for the relationship.
Koren began to have flash backs about her own school experiences. She relived the incident when she had been wrongly blamed for throwing a paper dart in English class. Her mother had been told she was insolent and defiant. Her mother never asked Koren to tell her side of the story. Her mother believed the teacher and Koren was shamed for letting the family down. The same feelings of shame, humiliation and rage that Koren had felt at that time were washing over her now as she felt marginalized by Hector’s school Principal. As a child Koren couldn’t show or talk about her bitter disappointment and rage at not being championed. Koren was left unprotected, scapegoated and gagged.
For Carrie the choice felt as stark as this ‘do as she says and keep your daughter close, or be selfish and lonely, guilty and regretful for the rest of your life.’ Faced with that conflict, Carrie always chose the former. Until now. As she was being ground into the dust with no sign of reprieve, her survival instinct kicked in. Her fury at not being able to withdraw the interest on her relationship bank accounts eventually allowed her to put her needs first. Resentment topped guilt and released her anger.
Both Keith and Kim get a buzz from engaging with each other through conflict. No matter how uncomfortable they may feel during their fights, their cravings for the pay offs call the tune. Like any other addiction, it has to be fed and topped up with more conflict for the highs to be maintained.