Sep 7, 2020
I was 12 years old, in 6th grade at Roosevelt Elementary School in SLC, UT. I had recently started “going with” Robby. He was gorgeous. I do not remember his last name, but I do remember he had hair like Shawn Cassidy.
On a Sunday morning not long after our relationship began, I got a phone call from Wendy, a previous classmate. Wendy was a year older than me, so even though she’d moved on to Jr. High – she had heard about Robby and me.
She was NOT happy about it.
She wanted Robby for herself and she wanted to fight me for him.
Her invitation: “Meet me on the playground at Roosevelt this afternoon.”
As I remember it, I agreed and got off the phone. It took me about 2 seconds to realize what I’d agreed to and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how to fight! Even with 3 older brothers who picked on me relentlessly, my method of dealing with confrontation was to turn and run.
I thought about my predicament for about 30 minutes. I considered calling my best friend, Julie, who lived next door. But I was both embarrassed to tell her what I’d agreed to AND to tell her I was scared. She and I had actually been in a few scuffles before. It never came out well for me.
I told my mom, “A girl wants to meet me at the school later”…. I left out the part about the fight.
“OK”, she said.
Darn. That’s not what I expected.
Suddenly it occurred to me; I DON’T HAVE TO GO. It wasn’t the same kind of turn and run feeling, it was an intentional decision. Robby didn’t mean THAT much to me, she could have him!
I had been invited to a fight, and I was choosing to decline that invitation. She could think what she wanted of me. She could call me back and accuse me of whatever she wanted to. But I didn’t care. Because I had made a decision for myself and that felt very empowering.
Recently I’ve been preparing ideas for how to coach my clients on issues with their siblings, or other family members who may not be helping with the care of their aging parents. There seems to be a lot of “invitations to fight” on both sides. Some bring up past hurt and feelings of being unappreciated. Others say their sibling criticizes the job they’re doing when they don’t even know what’s going on.
What if we didn’t have to accept the invitation to the fight? What if that was an option? I have good news; it actually is an option. It doesn’t mean we’re letting them off easy, or that we have become a doormat. We can establish boundaries to prevent that from happening.
We are in charge of our emotions. Why would we ever give that privilege away? When we try to show power over someone, it actually leaves us powerless anyway. We CAN simply decide to decline the invitation.
P.S. Everyday as we interact with our Loved Ones, we get to decide how to respond to them. It doesn’t always feel like we have a choice; It feels like they cause our emotions. The good news is, they don’t and they never did. WE choose our emotions our 100% of the time. I can teach more about this in a free 45 minutes session. Click the link below to schedule.