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The Volalitle Co-Worker

August 20, 2010

Yesterday, a very volatile co-worker exploded over the phone at me.  I remained very calm the entire time.  I am rather afraid of this co-worker because of the “issues” that he has had in the past.  I do everything in my power to not agitate him and avoid even the slightest confrontation if possible.  However yesterday, he called me up to ask a question, but erupted in anger when I gave an answer that he didn’t like.  He ended the call with, “Well, you know I love you.”  And then hung up on me.

He thinks that we are friends.  I have known him for a long time.  We went to the same church for a few years.  Hubby was his children’s’ youth pastor.  Hubby has had to speak to him several times about his un-Christlike conduct.  He is one of the reasons that Hubby feels woefully inept at “pastoring”.  This man has no problem getting in my face or hubby’s face and using all sorts of foul and threatening words.  Hubby has no idea how to neutralize him or the situation.  The next day we will get a phone call or an email saying, “I forgive you if you forgive me.”

This man is not my friend.  My friends do not speak to me or my husband like that.  My friends encourage my husband, not make him feel incapable of dealing with a situation.  My friends don’t treat me the way that this man treats me.  This man is abusive to his family and friends and I want no part of it.  When he gets in one of his moods, I am instantly brought back in time to my abusive previous marriage.  I immediately go into “fight, flight or freeze” mode.  I used to chose the “freeze” mode and just allow myself to be abused.  Now I want to fight.  It is all that I can do to restrain myself from punching this guy right in the face.

This morning, when I got to work, I saw the typical and expected email from this guy, “I’ll forgive you if you will forgive me.”  Everything in me screams, “What are you talking about?  I didn’t do anything wrong!  What kind of apology is that?”

But there is a still, quiet whisper telling me, “He is a troubled guy.  Perhaps this is the only way that he knows how to apologize.”  So I won’t fight.  I won’t email him back saying that I have done nothing to forgive.  I will be non-confrontational, gracious and Christlike.  But I will also be smart and keep as much distance from him as possible.

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