I dislike conflict of any kind. Even standing behind someone at a checkout and hearing a "that was supposed to be on sale" conversation start brewing makes me twitch. You can imagine how well I handle the big stuff.
It's truly awful to be an active participant in a conflict, be it a disagreement between friends, problems with one of your kid's friends, issues with a co-worker, that do-si-do I like to call divorce...awful. It can weigh heavily on your psyche until it's resolved. If you're like me, it's almost as if you can see the conflict, like a heavy gray cloud trailing just above and slightly behind your every move. It can suck the fun out of everything, if you let it.
Luckily my own personal conflicts are few. I have the big one, of course, the seemingly never-ending struggle with Big Daddy, but I'm so used to that one being there it's become like a piece of furniture you step around without even thinking about it.
But..what about when it's not your conflict, yet you're drawn in? What if there's something hinky happening between two friends?
When that happens in my life, I freak out a tiny little bit. It isn't such a big deal if you're closer to one person than the other, or even better yet, if one is just a casual acquaintance. That way you can keep your distance, be there for your friend and not have to walk on eggshells or pick sides.
And that's what I think is the root of my uneasiness about conflict: picking sides. Maybe it all goes back to when my mom and dad were divorcing, and I'd hear bad things about one, bad things about the other, and in my third grade brain it felt like a game of tug-of-war. Only instead of a rope being tugged, it was me.
I'm a Libra, people. I crave balance. I need things to be equal and harmonious. Don't we all?
So anyways. What happens when said conflict occurs between two people you are equally close with? Do you pick sides, condemn one, support the other? Or try to be all Switzerland and figuratively stand between them, acting like a human buffer?
I suppose it depends on the conflict itself. Something minor, a perceived insult or injury? That's uncomfortable, sure, but usually short-lived. It's relatively easy to sit on the sidelines, waiting for the two parties to hash things out.
How about a major conflict, though? How about one rife with accusations and hurt feelings and insults? How about one so icky that it results in you somehow being dragged into it?
I hate this kind. These kind tend to grow and fester, like mold on a block of cheese. You want to be a friend to both people, but if you're like me, you worry about alienating one over the other. You want to support both of them, even the one whom you think may have gone off her rocker a little bit, because you know both of them would do it for you.
It's Switzerland's biggest nightmare.
This one that I'm referring to happened over Winter Break. I won't go into the gory details out of respect to all involved, but I will say that somehow I ended up being perceived as a side-picker. One of the conflictees has ceased communication with me...even un-friended me on facebook (if you had told me 2 1/2 years ago that a website such as facebook would end up being a barometer of the quality of my friendships I'd have laughed...and quietly purchased stock).
I'm feeling unsettled about this one. Unsettled, and a little bit angry at being pulled into it (not by both parties...the other party has taken a decidedly mature, sit back and let things decompress attitude towards it, which is very admirable). I have the urge to confront the one who has shut me out, ask her what it was that I did to wrong her. That urge is followed very quickly by the one that wants to just say PFFFFFFFT and let the whole ugly thing sit and stew and hopefully, dissipate.
It reminds me an awful lot of parenting: seeing two of your kids butting heads, both looking to you for a reaction, a solution...or just to see if you're watching. You love them both, you kind of have a feeling one of them started it (because aren't some of us just natural born instigators??) but you don't want to play favorites.
I'm hoping that my friends will act like my kids in this situation: say a few choice names to each other, maybe pout for a little bit, but by day's end be sitting side by side cracking jokes and laughing.
Switzerland...over and out.