When I was a little girl, my mom taught me to ignore the annoying kids in my class, and maybe then they'd get bored and go away. As a strategy, it worked fairly well. Certainly, the parents and teachers loved my "adult approach" to problems.

By the time I was in third grade, I was such a good little two-shoes that the teacher, Mrs. Z, put me in the seat between two of the most disruptive goof-offs in class. Both named Aaron. Problem was that they were funny and interesting, and the conversations that went on behind my head weren't always that easy to ignore. I tell you, bad boys just have more fun.

In sixth grade, a boy with a really tough life figured he could out-annoy my tactic of "ignore and avoid." And eventually, he was right. I caught the attention of a teacher and explained the challenge I was having with locker-access between classes, since JO was always there to slam the locker shut for me again. When the teacher explained to JO that his homeroom teacher was my dad... Well, he left me alone after that. And I continued to ignore him.

In eighth grade, a different boy went straight from annoy to abuse. And no matter how hard I ignored him, I still went home from school every day with extra bruises. Eventually I again approached a teacher for help. This time it took a while, but eventually the kid's parents decided it was in his best interests to pretend I didn't exist, and I was allowed to get on with my life. We both worked hard to ignore and avoid each other for the whole four years of high school, where we both played violin in Orchestra class every day.

My first serious boyfriend was in high school... And he often forgot to show up for our planned dates and get-togethers and such. He often ignored my phone calls, too. I worked very hard to ignore the things I didn't like in our relationship because I wanted to succeed with him the same way I'd learned to succeed in school as a little girl. His other girlfriend-- when I found out about her-- was a bit harder to overlook. So I decided to ignore them both.

Add six years, a different guy, a wedding... and you have my marriage. In which I learned to ignore my own needs, my feelings, and my right to be treated with respect. Because that was the only way my marriage was going to succeed. And I didn't want to be the bad guy. Ignore the annoyance-- the way the boy in the seat next to you is goofing off and making bad choices in his life and generally distracting you from your work and your goals-- and it'll stop. Right?

So here I am. Knowing already that I am not Cinderella (in other words, no magic wand or prince charming to make it all better)... And I am facing the fact (again) that my most-used coping mechanism for things that bother/annoy/frustrate me... is to ignore them, and hope they go away. Some life skill. It didn't work in my marriage. It sure isn't working on my financial and job woes. Or on my cat's arthritis, come to that. And it's all gotten a bit over my head, really... But the thing I just tripped over is the realization that there's no teacher to go to for help on this one... And the last few teachers (or Argmy Commanders) I went to weren't always that helpful in the situation anyway.

So now I'm thinking--
Maybe we should teach little girls Aikido or Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, and encourage them to confront life's frustrations HEAD-F*ING-ON!! Because we sure aren't doing them any favors by training them to believe that being nice and pretending the problem doesn't exist will make everything in their life okay.

I'm just saying is all...

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