I have recently come across a behavior that’s an anomaly in someone that has become very important to me. It makes me wonder how many others are out there with this protective practice. How many others use their assumptions and experiences to eliminate others from genuine conversation by predetermining the other’s intent, meaning and response to any given situation? How many people never really have a conversation with another because they’ve already decided what will be said and meant before the other party has a chance to engage?
The first few times this occurred, it struck me as off a little, but I gave it no further thought,as I was still getting to know them. All of us have our oddities so to speak, and I am very open-minded to the differences in each of us and what a challenge and blessing those can be.
Last night, after getting off the phone with this friend, I found myself wondering…why does he even call me? If I need to be told not to say this thing, or react this way, or use this tone of voice, or expect this or assume that…before I ever know what conversation we’re going to have…why does he call? Because, in all honesty, he’s not talking to me at all. He’s talking to himself, or someone in the past, or a pre-determined personality that has nothing to do with me.
I realized that I didn’t care for it. At all.
I am naturally a loving, nurturing person. I show that because that’s who I am. My caring and showing it to another in no way means that I think they are needy, weak or lacking in some way. It means I care. That’s it.
When I repeatedly commit the apparent sin of “re-capping” a situation or conversation, it’s to tie it together for me, and make sure I understand what someone has said about where they are. That’s it. I don’t want to misunderstand or assume another’s meaning so “this is what I heard you say” is my way of saying “did I hear what you needed me to?”.
When what I say is misunderstood, it’s not because I’m stupid, I deserve enough respect that a simple request for clarification is all that should be needed. Assuming that anything I say is meant in an insulting or derogatory manner is a disservice to both of us and a friendship that doesn’t deserve to be tarnished by the prior behaviors of others.
These self-echoes that stand between two people and the promise of a solid friendship are a result of past damage and insult that has been repeated over the years far too many times to ignore. I understand this. I could say that all men suck, or people are untrustworthy users, or never count on anyone but yourself. I could say that, but I won’t. Because that would make me someone less, created by someone else, and I prefer to be me and who I decide that is.
Self echoes are the things we decide ahead of time that people mean when they talk to us, the ulterior motives they have for the relationship, the things we won’t tolerate from them before they ever happen, the limits and restrictions we place on someone new based on the countless before who have injured us before in the most painful of ways.
Self echoes eliminate our power to lead ourselves, and our hope for more than others have been capable of offering. It puts our hearts in a straight jacket and hinders the possibility of love and growth.
This doesn’t mean we ignore them, or be foolish in our choices. We listen to the whispers of the echoes and learn where the ditches and potholes are, without blinding ourselves to the fact these things we are to avoid are found in a road worth traveling with the wisdom gained from the echoes we hear.
These echoes are a tool, not a lifetime trauma. They are a reminder for wisdom and caution, not a royal dictate that all people are users and losers.
If we can’t determine the difference, then we will lose the love in the hearts that will lift us and light our way when we most need it. My friend says that the most courageous act a person can do is to let somebody love them. I hope he is brave enough to do so.
I hope we all are.