The Cost of Peace at Any Cost

flickr, What's on My Mind

This piece is about the fear of confrontation.

When you fear confrontation, you let people hurt you, but you say nothing.

You figure “they’re having a bad day,” or something like that.

You let it slide.

Then, you get hurt again.

But you smile, you gloss over it, you let it go.

Except you really don’t.

You try, but then it happens again, and all those other times rush back to remind you.

That you are the victim, the picked on one, etc.

People think you are nice, though.

Cause you don’t make waves.

Or, at least you think people think that.

They may also be thinking that it’s hard to be friends with you because they can never really tell where you stand on things.

It’s tricky to be in relation with people who won’t contribute.

You think you’re contributing, though.

Or, maybe you don’t think about contribution at all.

Maybe what you’re really thinking is that you are afraid.

Or, maybe you don’t know that you are afraid.

But, if you avoid contribution, it’s likely because you’re afraid.

Now here’s the thing: if you avoid confrontation long enough, it becomes really really painful to live in your own skin. (click to tweet)

Cause you’re pissed.

But you smile, so maybe we don’t know you’re pissed.

And then, one day, something happens – something that seems minor to the person who’s done it to you – and you completely lose your shit.

And, all the other shit you’ve been stuffing for all the years when you lived by the “peace at any cost” belief system comes out, too.

Ironically, when you lose your shit, you may also lose the person you’re close to who set you off.

This is ironic because when you believe in “peace at any cost” it’s because you’re afraid of losing people, of being alone.

And sometimes you may even think this, “If you really knew who I was, then you wouldn’t want to love me, work with me, etc.”

So, you have lived by peace at any cost cause you don’t want to lose people, but then you allow stuff to build up until you lose your stuffing and that pushes people away.

Weird, right?

If you can relate to any of this, never fear.  Next time we chat, I’m going to share with you the way out of this one.

Until then, do something nice for yourself.


Love, Jen

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Photo: Flickr, What’s on My Mind

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36 Responses to The Cost of Peace at Any Cost

  1. Loran Hills says:

    I grew up not wanting to rock the boat. I wasn’t allowed to express myself at all, so I didn’t for a very long time. Then, I realized that it wasn’t healthy to shut down and got pretty aggressive in my behavior. Now, I’m always looking for the middle ground. Being true to myself and still kind, compassionate and honest all at once. No easy task.

  2. Melissa says:

    Nailed me

  3. june says:

    You nailed me, too. Perfectly. Completely. It’s happened again, this past weekend.
    I wanted to tell her to – point blank – ‘Fuck off!’ – but, of course, as is always the way with me, I didn’t. I smiled that stupid, hapless (helpless? hopeless?) pathetic
    ‘yeah…go ahead and insult me some more. I won’t do anything to stand up for myself,
    so feel free to keep on stomping on me,’ and said nothing in response
    to what she just said, and how it made me feel.

    And then I spent the rest of the weekend ruminating over it, again and again, self-flagellating and self-loathing because I didn’t say anything. I just allowed her to get away with it. I didn’t defend myself. I didn’t even lose my shit, although I’d every justification and provocation to do so.

    No…I didn’t want to rock the boat. I wanted peace at any cost. Even if that cost is my own peace of mind, my own self-esteem, my own self-worth.

    Why, for fuck’s sake, do I do this? Why have I not learned from all the other times this has happened? I know why – it’s exactly for all the reasons you wrote about today.

    I’m sure that people think I’m weak, or stupid, or both, because I allow these types of people to do this and to say these types of things to me. I allow it. Therefore, I find myself hating myself even more – because I know better. But I do nothing!

    Can you tell I’m still ruminating over it, five days later? Pathetic!

    • Marion says:

      June, this sounds like me…. I think the only things we can do is to love ourselves no matter what and to forgive OURSELVES, and then we can forgive the others….
      Once we love ourselves we can take more care of ourselves, means, not to let others do what they do, or, let them do what they do, but don’t be hurt by their actions anymore.
      Sounds good, doesn’t it.
      Now, I also have to do it…
      Sending Love, Marion

    • Jennifer says:

      Human. You just need a new skill set. Next post, I promise.

  4. Susan says:

    Finding one’s voice can be a daunting task. Like Melissa, this “nailed me”.
    Over the past two years, I have learned it feels better to speak up and run the risk of any/some repercussion(s) than to suck it up and be left holding the “shit bag”… just plain stinks. It is so liberating to stop being a victim.

  5. Shalah says:

    Spent my whole life this way. 50 friggn years and blew a gasket sun. It stops now.

  6. Liz says:

    Nailed me as well. At least my husband knows I am like this so he doesn’t get annoyed when I blow up. My boss, however, thinks I am too emotional because I lose it when he’s being difficult.

  7. Ann Marie says:

    I grew up in a home where having an opinion could be a dangerous thing. Or a feeling. Or a disappointment. It amazed me to watch my nieces and nephews tell (more often then not) their Mom’s (my sisters) that they were upset/angry/hurt/sad about something. Even if it was a punishment for something that they had done. I saw what a gift it was to be able to express how you are feeling, still know that you are loved, but you are not getting out of spending the weekend at home without your phone and computer because you did something you shouldn’t have done.
    I’ve been blessed with friends who grew up the same way I did. We’ve learned (messily most of the time) to express ourselves, messing up the calm pretty scenery around us. There have been arguments and apologies for ill-timed explosions. But most of all, there has been growth, love and understanding.

  8. deborah says:

    I recently separated from my husband of almost six years. I almost lost me because I was bending over backwards trying to make the marriage work. He wanted me to be like him and he wanted to controI me. I became him in almost everything. Until one day I realized how unhappy I was being him,and how much I resented him AND MYSELF

  9. Marcy says:

    I’ve come a long way on this one baby, but still have a long way to go with those closest to me. Thank you, Jennifer, for today’s post and I look forward to next week.

  10. Jan says:

    Wow! It doesn’t really matter how I got that way only that I stop. The part about contribution really hits home. So basically it turns out I’m actually being selfish by NOT contributing, Wow again!! Thanks Jennifer, you get me, haha:)

  11. Ellen says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I tried for years to “confront” someone who had hurt me but I was ignored and avoided except in very public arenas where smiles and waves were made extravegantly from across large rooms. This person wanted everyone to think that things were fine, but because I couldn’t speak privately, it festered and festered. Amazingly, I wasn’t the one who blew up – the other party did. But the result was the same. I always hoped we could talk and work it out, but the other person wanted me to just shut up and go away. Wish granted.

  12. vickie says:

    After 50 years of putting up with an emotionally and verbally abusive father, I finally snapped and told him (by email) how I felt. Have since been disowned, disinherited and my whole family wonders why I am being so “mean” to him! There sure are repercussions for standing up for yourself and even so, I am so very happy with myself and feel whole and strong for the first time in my life! YAY ME 🙂

  13. Sharon Grimley says:

    Wow, you have exceptional timing. Relevant to my life in spades right now.
    The hard part is that people don’t want to accept that I am changing when I call them on having done something hurtful. They want me to keep being the quiet obliging individual they thought I was. It’s tough, facing up to losing a LOT of people all at once… 🙁

  14. Carla says:

    Once again you write what I’m feeling today. You continue to inspire me and amaze me. Thank you Jen.

  15. Marie says:

    Another powerful blog Jen. When I started reading it I thought back to when I just kept everything bottled up until the volcano erupted! I must say it took me a long time to determine when and how to be confrontational. The stuffing it and then blowing up part I knew too well and I was not happy with myself. When I finally started opening myself more and determining the best way to be confrontational for me was not “blow up, stomp around, stuff food in my mouth to avoid the emotions” life became a bit easier. I won’t say perfect as there is no such thing, but I realized that when I determined what was important and not important to my well being I stopped being pissed off and feeling the need to be confrontational. Now I can state my opinion and walk away. It also helped that I found a bit of balance in my life.

  16. Sandy says:

    I’m so sad tonight. On January 31st the ;Friday of mental health awareness my friend decided she could nt do it anymore. I met her in the hospital 2 years ago when we were both in for anxiety and depression, and we continued that friendship. Bringing each other up when the other was down .cheering each other on. I know this has nothing to do with your column but my heart is breaking and I have no where else to go . She ended her life bc she couldn’t do it anymore.

    • Sandy says:

      I know this columns about triumphs and adversity and for the most part I love that. What I’m having trouble with right now is moving on. We’re in the middle of move this weekend, pacing boxes getting condo set up and in midst of that I think of my friend and feel like I don’t even have time to mourn here. I dont understand it!!! How could she not think she could reach out.

  17. Jan says:

    Hi all,
    I thought I was the only one who was like this!
    I am a very slow learner, but, learn I will.
    I have always been worthless, ugly and useless, but I have always tried to be smiley, so that people would not keep judging me……it doesn’t work, soo I try to be invisible and quiet, it works most times, until I explode…….you know the rest
    I am sending hugs to all you lovely people

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