On the day after Christmas, worthy topics include thankfulness or gratitude or an acknowledgement of blessings. Instead, I have a phrase stuck in my craw. He said, “…you want things on your own terms.” Now, that ‘s a loaded phrase if ever I heard one. For one who wishes to be understood, there is a scramble, even if purely mental, to respond, explain and defend. But after a few days of the phrase jangling around in my head, the final answer surfaces. “Yes, of course. Whose terms should I be working from?” I am not a child nor a young bride nor a married woman. If I suspended living because I have only MY terms by which to live…..nothing gets done, progress is halted and I stagnate. So yes, I do want things on my own terms. These terms are my sole units of measurements. They are not the ONLY units of measurements, but until a new dynamic is negotiated its where I’m sticking. And then the real issue comes into focus. When another person refuses to negotiate but rather demands a full and unconditional surrender of ALL of your terms and all of your identity that person is not seeking a partner nor love. They seek POWER. And the only way one manages to overpower another as well differentiated as myself is to somehow get me to acquiesce. Except…..why the hell would I do that? So yes, I want things on my own terms. I function from my own terms of engagement. I am quite diplomatic and all of life is negotiable BUT…..negotiation and diplomacy means an engaged process that includes dialogue, disclosure and shared vulnerability. Anything less is a peevish, childish tantrum of demands and fit throwing: adult petulance is not as easy to identify as a three year old in the toy aisle of Target. No. Adults have the benefit of larger vocabularies, tonality, persuasion and manipulation. The tantrum is no less irascible or irrational. There is no negotiating with a tantrum throwing child. Equally, there is no negotiating with a tantrum throwing adult. In fact, I think they are even more difficult because the petulant adult will vehemently deny that they are acting like a narcissistic three year old fixated on something they WANT! Adults employ indignant authority and for a half second (or a half day) you ponder the phrase, “….you want everything on your own terms.”
This morning, I realize, I am very willing to discuss the “terms” by which I live and to negotiate in a dialogue the possible alternate avenues and methods. I am not interested in the adult equivalent of buying the Baby Tender Love doll or the 1,000 piece Lego Battle Starship cruiser for the petulant fit throwing child simply to appease them and to prevent their anger and wrath. Adults should grow out of tantrums. At least they should be a rarity. Tantrums definitely cannot be the foundation of any relationship. That would be like tethering your emotional world to a three year old child who will never ever grow up……and if by their mid-forties they are still utilizing tantrums as their method of communication, I have but one response. It’s the same response we all have in the aisle at Target as we watch the parent trying to manage the fit pitching child……”I am glad that isn’t my kid.” Likewise, I am glad this is not my partner.