I could hear the screaming from outside of the house. I stopped and listened for evidence of escalation and/or violence, decided it was just screaming and decided to go do something else until the battle was over. Aren't the holidays fun?
(Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
It all began with a ham. Leftvovers from the Christmas feast could not be located. So Mom opens with her favorite weapon, guilt, "I paid $34.00 for that ham and no one knows where any of it went?"
The fight was on.
"Claire", the younger daughter warmed up for a temper tantrum, tantrums which have historically won Mom to her side in order to keep her quiet. But "Brenda" had had enough of these tantrums and started mimicking her sister's outburst and reflecting it back to her. When Claire went for a verbal attack, Brenda mimicked Claire's words and exaggerated her raging behavior, flapping her arms wildly and screaming at the top of her lungs. Claire would reengage with another verbal attack only to be met with over-the-top hysteria and screaming. This completely shut her down. Her rage was not being acquiesced to. It was being topped. And the whole thing came undone.
Mom's guilt card failed. Claire's rage failed. And they both drove off in Claire's car to complain about Brenda somewhere else.
And I pondered how emotions can be used as weapons. People who live with a violent person often learn to tiptoe around so as not to "set them off". Rage can be used to bully others into letting you have your way. Guilt can be applied masterfully to get one's way or simply inflict pain. Others use tears to incite guilt and pity and to manipulate others.
What other emotions can be used as weapons?