One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given, and paid dearly for disregarding is this:
“The thing you refuse to talk about for fear of hurting your relationship
is the very thing that will cause its destruction”.
I’ve lived through the truth of this enough to be compelled to share it when “just that one time” becomes more than one time, and the hurt plants a tiny seed of resentment to begin the downward spiral of something potentially good.
I’ve found if I wait too long without speaking up, or making sure I’m heard when I finally do so, it may be too late to alter the dynamic previously set. JT (my therapist) told me once that you only have to allow a behavior a single time, and by your silence, you’ve given permission for it to continue.
I’ve given permission for a lot of poor treatment, and excused it as a bad day. I’ve forgiven my own behavior the same way, and have had to call myself out on it. I’ve had to learn to set my boundaries, draw those lines for what is acceptable to me in my attitude and the actions of others towards me.
It sounded like hyperbole to me until I recognized the shift in my feelings and regard for people I loved over the years. I could trace the demise or damage done in each relationship to my blindness of the importance of honest communication, first with myself and then to the one in front of me.
I think it’s important to say, “You hurt me, this is how. Don’t do that again”. I think it’s critical that I listen when it’s said to me. We owe that to each other don’t we? I think we do if the friend/lover/spouse matters to us for the long haul. I think it matters if we want something more than the mediocre that we’ve spent too much time living.
I speak only for myself when I say that silence is soul-numbing when it’s a shield for pain. Emotional paper cuts left untended can fester and cause loss of heart, loss of trust and loss of love. In my experience, they have. I assisted in creating my own sorrow.
I will admit freely that this is not a cure all. There have been those who can’t hear me, or don’t want to, or flat out don’t care when they do. But that was the answer then, wasn’t it?
“I can’t hear you. I don’t care. I could treat you differently, but I don’t really want to.”
I think we really know in our gut when we’re loved and appreciated, and when we’re not. Just like we know when we are loving and appreciating the way we should, or being selfish and inflicting those paper cuts on those who matter to us.
I know it’s hard to break the silence, I still struggle with it every time.
But try, just try, to say that very thing you think will break you.
It may save you instead.