Have you ever been emotionally wounded by someone you love? Your mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, or best friend? We do tend to take out our pain on our loved ones, don’t we? But what ache is it? The sad truth is that none of us escapes discomfort or some measure of trauma growing up. Believe it or not, we may dream about finding that special person who will finally give us the love or acceptance we never got as a child (no matter how well-meaning our folks may have been).
How do you learn how lovable or valuable you truly are? Mostly from the reflections and impressions we get from our family and the ones we surround ourselves with. If your husband or wife seems displeased about something, chances are you may think there is something wrong with you. No matter how much you try to deflect Mom’s or Dad’s criticism, deep down – or unconsciously – you may actually believe that perceived put-down.
How do you intentionally or unintentionally hurt the ones you love? Do you show up late a lot, or take her for granted? Sorry, but running late does not count as exercise. Do you conveniently “forget” to answer his texts or calls, or bring up vulnerable parts of his past? Do you yell or give her the silent treatment when you’re angry? Did you know that being ignored causes the same chemical reaction in the brain as being physically hurt? And just remember: When you ignore your friend, you are basically teaching her how to live without you. So, be careful with the silent treatment. Do it often enough and she may just ask you to follow up with a disappearing act.
If you end up feeling disregarded and devalued, even by those you love, just know that the one making you feel this way oftentimes feels inadequate and powerless himself. Remember this, sweet friends: Feeling disappointed or even sad is not the same as feeling unworthy or inadequate. When we feel blue, there is always something we can do to try to improve our emotional state.
Caring and being aware of the emotional well-being of our family and friends is a full-time job. The more we value ourselves and our lives, the less likely we are to take out our “stuff” on others in a hurtful way.
Before you act, think: If I say or do this, what possible harm could come to my relationship?
One thing I do believe is that most of us simply do not have the skills to communicate our feelings in a healthy, positive way. Let’s be honest. Most of our mouths work faster than our minds. I don’t know about y’all, but my clever comebacks usually surface an hour too late anyway. Lol.
Resolving our own emotional hurts from the past is not easily done. But in order to make it safe for our family and friends to express their feelings, we must learn how to create a loving presence for them. Do we know how to genuinely listen or validate their reality or experiences without judging or jumping in and trying to “fix” them?
Or are you one of those who multi-task by listening, ignoring, and forgetting all at the same time? Yeah, that doesn’t count.
Do you even remember the very last time you felt hurt? I bet it was by someone you know, maybe even someone you love. Friendship is a sacred privilege. You may share the most private parts of yourself with your loved ones. This should be treated with the utmost respect, never to be used against him or to trample on her when you get angry or hurt. Your friend offers you the most compelling opportunity to see yourself. Sure, you can hide things from your teachers, neighbors, even your spiritual advisors. But the one closest to you will ultimately see the “real” you despite your best efforts to conceal.
When those parts are revealed and mishandled, our instinct tells us to run, defend, judge, or even attack back. If you tend to have a short fuse, your loved one better expect a lot of fireworks. The truth is we are all less cautious about being polite or using good manners with the ones we are closest to. We justify that in the name of feeling “free” and being able to say or do as we please. If you find your husband or wife is jumping up and down on your last nerve, by all means take a break. I know what you’re tempted to say: “Honey, if you need space, join NASA.” But…you may just need some breathing room, and it’s all right to spend some time apart. Trust me: My “alone” time is for everyone’s safety. Lol. Tell her how much you love her and then head out to a class or to your hobby that helps you reconnect with yourself. Your reunion will be that much sweeter.
And look, there’s something in it for you, too. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected. So, sweet friends, in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
You know there are two types of people: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better. Which would you rather be?
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.