I have been told on numerous occasions in the last couple of months how I have hurt people. I have also learned that people do strange things when they get hurt. And at the same time I have also been hurting. Emotional pain is a very strange and different animal compared to physical pain. Some days we know we need to walk straight into it, some days we can choose to walk around it, and some days it attacks us from behind without us seeing it coming.
Here is my point of view at this time of my life. An event happens in our lives, and at that point we are hurt by the event or a person – take for example a relationship break up. Then we have to start working through all the aspects of the hurt – anger, regret, sadness, acceptance…name them as you wish. But at some point it is no longer the event or the person that is hurting us, it is us hanging onto something about the event or person. If I know for a fact that there is no more hope for another chance in a broken relationship, but I hang on to the hope that there may be – that hurt is caused by me, no one else. If I put myself into a situation where I will see this person with their new partner, and I’m hurt by it, that is all me. To then still accuse the other person of being hurting by him/her, days or even weeks after all has been said and done, is no longer their responsibility. I am happy to own up to broken promises that initiated all the hurt and pain, but only for so long.
Here is how I used to handle other people’s hurt – I am extremely good at taking up other people’s stuff – their hurt, their regrets they throw at me, their bad moods, even their happy moods. I have had to set very clear boundaries for myself to not take up other people’s stuff – to not allow them to suck me into an argument that eventually ends up in “you did and you said” being thrown back and forth. I’ve been good at it the last week or so, and as much as I acknowledge that some days I have to work hard to not feel that it comes out of a place of non-caring, but rather of looking after myself, I have been doing well. But now and then I slip and then we go back into that argumentative spiral. THAT hurts even more, because all we’re doing is opening up old wounds that we know we can’t, or aren’t willing to fix. At that point, when I allow myself to be sucked in, I own that hurt – I allowed the person to pull me back in and repeat all the things we’ve argued about before. I can never ever turn around and say to them “but you shouldn’t have done…” – because I can only change me. What I have had to hear now is that people feel I am cold and have no more emotions – my response to that – I am sorry you feel that way, but I’m doing what I need to do to look after myself. I know what is true in my heart and how I feel and that on the days when I’m hurting the most I need to put on the straightest face I can find, but I don’t need to justify it to anyone other than myself.
Hurting is inevitable in life, sometimes we do things that hurt others, and other times we get hurt. But hanging on to this hurt – that is what makes an ended relationship change into one where things get really nasty, and that is the thing we have full power over.