Do you tell the person who hurt you? I don’t.
I just realized this the other day. Sometimes, when I’ve been approached by my husband who either senses something is wrong or has his own bone to pick with me, I’ll share my hurt feelings, but other than that, I don’t initiate these conversations with him or anyone else. Ever.
It came up because I was trying to emotionally prepare myself to go to an event with someone who always has grievances with other people but who is never required to sit down and listen to the ways they’ve hurt other people.
It’s not just this instance though. For me, it’s a pattern I can see throughout my life. I’ve endured being on the hot seat but have been too afraid to hold other people accountable.
Some of it is fear of making the other person feel bad. Some is fear of being attacked as a response. But mostly, I’m afraid they won’t care. I’m afraid they’ll decide I’m too sensitive and not worth their energy. What I fear most is being abandoned when I’m at my most vulnerable.
And so, I try not to take up too much emotional room in my relationships. Instead, I grapple with my hurt feelings internally and alone.
Unfortunately, this strategy of managing my emotional world entirely on my own isn’t working out for me lately. As I grieve the sudden death of a friend, I can’t hold the tears back. I can’t seem to compartmentalize my feelings the way I’m used to doing. In a way it’s been a good thing because it’s taken away my choice in the matter. I’m sad and it’s all over my face and I can’t hide it so people have to make space for me.
I’m sharing this because I know there are some of you who struggle with this, too. You’re not taking up emotional room in your relationships either. You are a world-class listener. You validate and apologize. But you also hold back your pain so that other people aren’t burdened.
Yes, it creates more peace, but at what cost? Our loneliness? Deeper connections?
Listening to the hard things people bring us is only half the equation for intimacy. Sharing our pain when we’re asked about it is great but isn’t enough. Are we willing to expose ourselves when we haven’t been prompted? This feels like a major blindspot I’m just seeing and also an important and healthy challenge for myself. Terrifying? Yes. But healthy nonetheless.
What about you? Are you able to bring your hurt feelings to the person who hurt you?
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