Stonewalling: To refuse to cooperate, especially in supplying information. It is employed by those who are indifferent and who wish to punish. When passion exists (a very positive or very negative emotion), stonewalling is impossible. The one who endures stonewalling is often clueless about what the conflict is about. It is the epitome of an unfair fighting strategy. One is left to fill in the blanks with the most extreme, even irrational conclusions.
“I have conquered them all, but I am standing amongst the graves.”
Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
There are times when a family member or friend abruptly "cleans house" in relationships, without giving any explanation or allowing a dialogue about why. I have found myself in the discard pile after years of close friendship. I grieved for years. No effort on my part yielded the prized conversation, leaving me with so many questions. Stonewalling is a conflict behavior that produces pain. It is used for this reason, to punish. My personal reaction cycled through all of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief minus one: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. In these later years, I have achieved the last stage, that of acceptance.
I entered into the field of conflict resolution to seek answers to the many variations of the question “WHY?” Why do people who have previously loved cease from loving? Why don't family members have natural affection for each other, parents for their children and children for their parents and siblings?
The strategies employed by those in conflict are endlessly interesting. On the upside, I'm often surprised by the level of respect and graciousness demonstrated by champions, who navigate through a divorce or a trial with a loved one: perfectly poised, loving, and gracious.
The old saying, “It takes two to tango” is generally taken to mean that “it takes two to fuel the fight.” However, it takes only one to choose to leave the dance.
It takes a mature person to recognize the truth relayed in The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruis: “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” It’s generally not about you; it’s about the other’s personal journey. Give yourself a pass. The other may, or may not, ever be willing to reconcile.