I have the tendency not to tell people when they’re hurting me; I just keep it in and accept it until I hit a breaking point or the pain stops. Of course I know this isn’t healthy, but it’s so hard to break this habit once you’ve started. I think: Maybe if I tell this person (s)he’s hurting me, (s)he will be defensive. Maybe (s)he will blame it on me. Maybe (s)he’ll apologize but won’t mean it. Or even worse: Maybe (s)he won’t apologize. Maybe (s)he doesn’t care.
Maybe (s)he will say, “I’m sorry you felt hurt.” Not, “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
If I’m hurting someone, I for sure want to know so that I can change my behavior / language or at least try to be more aware and more respectful of that person’s needs and feelings… so what stops me from thinking that other people feel the same way?
I’m reflecting on this because of a couple of incidents that happened this weekend, both of which are related to physical pain rather than emotional pain. The gentleman I am currently (whatever with) was visiting; there was a point in the weekend where he physically hurt me more than I wanted to be hurt (Kink! Look it up.), and I didn’t speak up. The next day, I did something that caused him physical pain, and he didn’t say anything; I stopped when I noticed he was wincing.
Why didn’t I say anything? Why didn’t he say anything? I can’t speak for him, but in my case, I didn’t want to ruin the moment. It worked out well; the moment went un-ruined and carried on into a pretty spectacular night. But it probably would have been just as spectacular had I said, “That feels good, but it would feel even better if it were a little lighter.” Had he said something to me right away when he felt pain, it definitely would have resulted in a better night for both of us.
This was just physical pain; remaining silent about emotional pain has far worse (often long-term) ramifications… it can be corrosive and psychologically damaging. Two things I’m trying to learn from this relationship are a) how to be a better communicator and b) how to be more mindful; this might be a good place to start. I’m trying to remind myself that often when we feel hurt, the person who is hurting us isn’t even aware they’re doing it.
Tiny Buddha has a really wonderful article on how to confront people who hurt you; when I read the article, I realized that maybe I should be looking at expressing hurt feelings in a different way. I shouldn’t focus on what I expect the other person’s reaction to be, or what I fear their reaction will be, but rather focus on honestly expressing myself with no expectations and no judgment. A difficult endeavor, but worthwhile in the long run.
Now to lighten the mood of this post: I was watching an episode of Star Trek: TNG last night in which Picard and Dr. Crusher are linked telepathically through a device attached to their brainstems (because science fiction!). They discover through reading each others' thoughts that they’ve been engaging in an activity together that neither one of them enjoys just because each one thinks that it makes the other happy (It’s just breakfast, you pervs. Get your minds out of the gutter.). Further evidence that we should speak up when something really bothers us.* What I'm getting at here is that we can look to Star Trek to learn deep life lessons.
[This episode, by the way, has the most gutting ending. After seven years of flirting, Picard says to Crusher something along the lines of “Now that we know how we feel about each other, maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to explore those feelings.” Bev replies, “Maybe we should be afraid,” and then walks out the door. WHAT. Bev Crusher, who twice before has started to tell Picard about her feelings before something cuts her off! How can you do this to us, son of Carl Sagan?
Ahem. Sorry. Sometimes Star Trek makes me emotional.]
*However, there is something to be said for tact and careful consideration of what we choose to say / how we choose to say it.