The Mental Health Dance Off

There are some times when a conversation is just a conversation. You lob ideas and stories back and forth.  It’s a lovely little cha-cha where all parties involved are on beat and dancing right along. Other times, you land smack dab in a brutal conversation dance-off, where everything out of your mouth is challenged or one upped. It is less about dancing just to enjoy the music and more about winning. I wound up in the middle of a battle conversation the other night and my response surprised me.

In LA, conversational pissing contests were an everyday occurrence and where my own bad habit of taking over a conversation really took flight. An average douchey, LA contest-sation starts a little like this, “What are you working on because I just finished two national commercials and my clothing line is being carried at Fred Segal. Oh and next month is my art show downtown.” Ugh times a zillion.  Like shut the fuck up. Nobody is handing out ribbons for being more awesome or for having more going on or being more right. Yet it’s what we people do. We want to win and be right and be special even if our tactics to get those things turn us into total jackasses.

But back to the dinner/smack down in question. Three of us, all sober people of various flavors of recovery might I add, started talking about the Olympics and the trivia of the day. This soon led to smartphones appearing  out of thin air and facts being thrown down as if they were absolute gauntlets. By the way,can’t we get through one dinner without whipping our smartphone dicks out?  It’s so obnoxious. We all lived and talked for generations without having devices to prove our points. Anyway, when I drank I liked to win these kind of things so I’d usually be the one pressing on trying to get my point across. The other night, however, I just sort of let my dinner companions battle it out. This isn’t because I was secretly trying to win the other contest happening at the time- the “I’m more sane than you” competition which was quietly brewing from the minute we sat down that night. No, for some reason I just didn’t participate. I knew it was going on and felt the strain of the conversational battle. But I sipped my Diet Coke, nibbled on appetizers and politely tried not to give a shit.

The truth is, I was actually happy to see these two argumentative motherfuckers and for some reason didn’t let their bickering get in my way of enjoying my meal or their company. When I returned home, I was exhausted. I’m not much of fighter anymore so even being near that kind of crap takes its toll. Now my husband can tell you, I don’t always choose not to fight. But I did make that choice and I didn’t engage in crazy conversations the other night. Oddly enough, this little victory made me feel like I had beaten something far more important than my two arguing dinner companions.