A Toronto Transformation

How We Fight


Legend has it you should never go to bed angry.

I’ve never been much of a fighter. Give me a topic I’m truly passionate about and I’ll argue/debate it for days on end. But let’s face it, you’d probably agree with me before it came to that.

Even as a child I was big on keeping the peace. In fact, now that I think about it,  I was actually a designated playground peacekeeper in elementary school, providing mediation for kids who just couldn’t share their Puppy Surprise or stop biting each other or whatever.

My parents didn’t yell at us often, which meant if they did, we were in deep trouble, mister. They would argue like all humans sharing a living space must, but I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard them raise their voices at each other.

I know I had some loud, dramatic fights with my parents on occasion when they’d get fed up with my angsty, ungrateful little teenage tornado of belly tops and silver eyeliner and hormone/boredom-driven antics (is there anything on earth more dramatic than a teenage girl’s social life?).

They actually didn’t yell when I came home at 16 years old and threw up a vodka slurpee and about half a bottle of scotch one night after my first big heartbreak. They just told me to drink some water, take an advil and go to bed.

No question I was reeeeaal grounded though.

On those rare occasions when all semblance of cool was abandoned in favour of plain old angry shouting, it was never long before either they or I ran out of steam enough to relent at least a little, apologize for any hurt caused and calmly explain our frustration. And even before amends were made, I never doubted that I was loved, or that I was welcome in my home.

Some people say that it’s healthy to fight in relationships. To even go ahead and shout if you feel like shouting. To get things out in the open and express yourself honestly. I have to say I’m skeptical though. The few fights I’ve had within relationships or friendships where there was yelling or even overly harsh words exchanged in overly harsh tones have never been the ones I found the most productive.

Maybe it’s just my personality, or the aforementioned lack of yelling in the home I grew up in, but I find it extremely shocking and upsetting to be yelled at. Maybe I just need a thicker skin, but the second voices are raised or angry tears are shed, a deflector shield around my own emotions is activated. If I’m attacked, I just shut down. But the words don’t bounce off. Some of the message might still get through, but I carry angry words thrown my way around with me for years and that can overshadow what might be a legitimate point the hurler of words is trying to get across.

That said, I have been known to lose control from time to time with, looking back, kind of hilarious results. I remember one late-night/early morning fight with an ex that ended with him being so fed up he left the bed and went to sleep on the couch in what was in my mind an attempt to punish me. So I one-upped him by leaving the entire apartment and wandering around the streets in the snow to punish him. Except that, of course, he was warm and cozy on the couch while I was freezing my ass off. It probably cooled me down though.

Our other most memorable fight ended with me being so furious at not only whatever we were fighting about but the fact that he could barely keep his eyes open to listen to me rant about it that I leapt out of bed, ran into the hallway and hurled his drying Gi (jiu jitsu robe thingy) down the stairs.

That’s right, don’t mess with me or the laundry gets it!

So much for laying out my case in a calm, unaccusatory and rational manner.

Which makes me think, maybe sometimes it’s not so bad to go to bed angry after all.

8 Responses to How We Fight

  • Manda says:

    I find that I am sometimes calmer about a situation the next morning, which makes me think that I guess it’s okay to sometimes go to bed angry. I try not to, though… because then I’m not going to get a good night’s sleep!!

    I agree with you that the most productive disagreements I’ve had are ones that don’t involve yelling, though. Yelling makes getting to the real heart of the matter surprisingly more difficult at times.

    • Ugh, yes. I suppose that’s the catch. If I ever let things get to the point where it’s late at night and I’m really riled up I’m just going to lie there and fume for hours. Nothing keeps sleep at bay like being unable to unclench any of your muscles. I told my ex to only tick me off in the morning to try and avoid this situation. haha.

  • Elly says:

    I think the hardest part for me is recognising when it’s time to stop, and let it go. I get all wound up and hurt and angry and find it impossible to not respond. In the end I’m usually just being unnecessarily ridiculous, and if I took a moment I’d realise that I’m probably just stuck in reactive fighting cycle, almost like fighting for the sake of it. OI guess in that case, going to bed angry would help! 🙂

    Still, I think we sometimes do silly things when we’re all wound up. Hilarious about the robe throwing! Did it make you feel better?

    • Haha. Yeah, that was some Grade A temper tantruming there. I think it might have actually made me calm down. I don’t actually remember this, but my ex tells me that the next morning we just got up and went to a craft show like nothing had happened. Haha. That may not have been the healthiest relationship.

  • You sound like a super healthy fighter to me! When you enter the realm of screaming at each other, you risk words being said that can’t be unsaid. I’m also not all for sitting there in quietude, though. Because problems need resolved, not ignored. Throwing robes and taking walks seem like pretty rational/harmless ways to vent to me!

  • Lauren says:

    I think we’re very similar in our anti-fighting ways. I was also a peer mediator in elementary school, haha. And being a middle child automatically makes me more prone to the more love, less war way of life.

    But, no matter how hard we try to avoid them, fights are necessary every now and then. It’s better to get everything out in the open than secretly fume to yourself, I guess. And I’m a great grudge-holder, so going to bed angry is a bad choice for me. As a child I would spend entire days pouting and giving the silent treatment just to get back at people, which looking back sounds like a terrible way to spend a day.

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