Fire Starter


Most people know at least one person who likes to bring the heat and keep things unbearably hot.  That person could be a coworker, family member, friend, or neighbor.   In my case it was Eliza.   I  try to distance myself from heat seekers because I enjoy living a balanced, uncomplicated life. 

But how can you maintain your equilibrium when someone is constantly trying to singe you with fiery combat?  Obviously you can’t control the actions (and sometimes upbringing or mental status) of others.  And apparently they missed the memo when you play with fire everybody gets burned. Well, personally, I like my skin texture and tone just fine, thank you very much! 

Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting caught up in the smoke:

The Devil’s in the Details:  I had to learn the hard way that it was best not to give Eliza too many details.  My husband was the expert at this.  He knew that any information beyond what was necessary would just feed her desire for fire.  She burned me a few times before I learned this painful lesson.  Eventually I figured that I was only responsible for keeping her informed about important issues and nothing more.  I stopped trying to soothe her  febrile ego or provide “helpful” commentary.  Anything other than the basics is breeding ground for combustion.  Do yourself a favor and stick to the bare minimum.

Heated Hubris:  Overly dramatic folks love to get your emotions flowing and once you get this way, you tend to lose control quicker.  This also lends to a lot of irrational bantering so avoid responding to any emotional buzzz words and stay on the topic.  Address the issues and not the person by keeping your emotions intact.

Sizzling Sasha or Calm Callie: If you are not normally vindictive and crazy don’t allow yourself to imitate that persona.  Fire Starters are stoked you when you to take on their traits.  Then their fireballs will really become fast and furious as you’ve given them the ammunition needed to fight fire with fire.  Because fire starters are really martyrs at heart, they hate when you refuse to be the victim and resist their blazing darts at the same time.

Be An Extinguisher:  While you might not have started the fire–you can be the one to put it out.  This entails knowing when and when not to fight battles.  Let’s face it, everything is not a life and death matter and some things are just silly to expend energy on.  If I had to do it all over again, some things with Eliza wouldn’t have even been an issue.  I would have let her have her way, which would have taken the wind from her sails.  When you are an extingusher you make the choice not to do things to push their buttons.  Even though they might deserve it (and it might even feel good momentarily) you know that it won’t help put out any forest fires in the blended family tree.

Install Smoke Detectors:  I quickly learned when Eliza was going to fire up and would therefore take a backseat to allow her rage to fizzle.  Her spells usually centered around special occassions such as holidays and birthdays.  During these times I did not give her any information that I knew would aggravate her already inflamed state of mind.

Stop, Drop, and Roll:  We all learned this drill in elementary school and it is still applicable with today’s Fire Starter.  When it gets too hot:

  •  stop trying to reason or argue with the person,
  • drop out of the picture for awhile,
  • and roll on with your life. 

You don’t have to entertain a fire-loving drama queen for trifling matters.

Fires Eventually Fizzle:  Like with most things in life (from flora to fauna to foe) if not properly fed; they cannot survive.  If you quit kindling the fire it will soon become an smoldering ember.  Fire Starters know this, which is why they will do everything in their power to keep things smoking.  No fighting=no fuel.  Sooner or later they will direct their ire somewhere else.

Fire Power: As hard as it may be, try to focus on something positive about the Fire Starter.  Although fire has the potential to destroy, it can also be used for good(cooking and heat to name a couple).  This approach can help you “warm”  up to them.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I have to thank Eliza for turning me into Hercules!  She has drug me through so much that I have come out stronger for it.  She has also inspired me to be a better person.  I never want to hurt people in the manner that she has. 

Fire Proof Yourself:  A Fire Starter thrives on breaking you down, cauterizing you in the process. They will use very weapon known to man to do so; especially words which are flung like Molotov cocktails to defame your character.  It is to your advantage to develop a firewall so you won’t be devastated by what these dragons breathe into existence.  Know ahead of time that tongue blisters will be apart of the vocalized revolution against you; so don’t take their every heated word to heart.  The odds are in your favor that they wish they were in your shoes!  It’s never too late to erect that firewall for protection.  When Eliza slanders me I know in advance that the real issue is with her.  Therefore the “hot fire” that she spits cannot char me.

Ring the Alarm:  Arson-the crime of deliberately and maliciously setting fires.  When the actions of the Fire Starter become scaldingly criminal, it’s time to alert the authorities.  There are some things that you just should not tolerate and criminal activity is one of them.  I would also suggest that you document any forms of harassment.   Sometimes it is even necessary to get a trace placed on your phone (we had one successfully traced back to her residence).  I have a huge binder that I have kept over the years to create a papertrail on Eliza and her many attempts to annililate, annoy, and torture us.  The contents proved to come in handy, too when combating her scorching lies in different situations.

10 responses »

  1. This is a great post, Morocco. My husband’s ex wife seems to thrive on drama and conflict. I refuse to play her silly games. It’s just so hard for me to understand why an adult would “create” this kind of chaos. In reality, the brunt of the hurt falls on the child/children. I REFUSE to participate in her drama games. If she wants to play juvenile, childish games, she’s just gonna have to play them by herself!

    You gave some fantastic tips!!!

  2. Wonderful tips and a creative way to present them. As the daughter of a former fire chief, I can really appreciate your approach here.

    We have learned the hard way about not giving the other person too many details. We are getting wiser in that area. I wish I had documented so much more than we have, it would have come in handy on so many occasions. Thanks for providing that tip, and all of the others as well!

  3. This is such a good post and was easy to read. Very well laid out. I try and stay as far as I can away from these kinds of people. It did take me a lot of my life to figure it out though. I used to feel “I don’t want to hurt their feelings” but now I’ve come to realize, damn, they hurt mine so it’s best to keep my distance. It is however different when it’s a family member. Isn’t that always the way?

  4. AWESOME!!!! So true on every account, I will definitely keep these in mind if things start taking a turn for the old way again. I love it.

    Can I copy it and send it to my boss? Her soon-to-be-ex is a Fire Starter!!!!

  5. These are wonderful tips. I’ve always treated my situation as a business relationship. I always have been a business woman at heart and it’s so much easier to keep it as that. It helps me to keep emotion out of it when I view it as business. I’ve still chosen to stay as far away as possible and have my fiance do all the motions. It’s easier for me to keep a level head if I’m not playing with the raging fire myself.

  6. Serendip~
    Of course you can!

    Been There~

    I think with each of my life experiences I am obtaining wisdom. I have always been logical and analytical;but not always wise! You live and hopefully learn!


    Yes, some difficult people are hard to avoid as you may have to work with them or especially so if they are in your family. But maybe these people are the “spice” of life! I try really hard to flip their negatives into positives. It’s not always possible but definitely worth the effort.


    I’m the same way as far as wondering why people like crazy. I mean really–my inquiring mind wants to know!


    You see, I thought I was doing a good thing by keeping Eliza informed much as possible, until I realized that I was only giving her something to consciously misconstrue. Documenting is time consuming, but again, another practice that is well worth the effort it takes to do.


    I’ve heard of the business approach, too. If you can keep yourself disengaged it may serve as your safe haven from the fiery missiles.

  7. I agree with everyone else. This post is on target, well-written, and creative. It should be in O Magazine because this is advice EVERYONE can use.

  8. Suzanne~

    Thanks, I wish! I actually looked online to see if O accepted material from freelance writers for the post I wrote called “Be There.” However, I didn’t find anything regarding submissions. If anyone knows how to go about doing this, please let me know.

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