A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.~ Jessamyn West
We’ve all had the experience of someone saying something that cuts to the heart. Sometimes it’s malicious but most often it is failure to understand the impact the words have on an individual. I know you can’t control how someone feels. The perception is completely in the heart of the recipient. I wonder, if we thought more about the consequences, could we stay our voice until we are sure of what we want our words to communicate?
I’m having a rough go of relationships right now. I think back to even five years ago and how many people I could call on a moment’s notice and we could find something to do. Since then, many people have disconnected themselves from me. Sometimes, the words came and they were harsh. The number of people who have left my life because they didn’t know what to say is significant. But, I made new friends. I moved on. Life changes and so do the people who fit in it.
What did I do wrong, to chase people away? In some cases, I failed to nurture the relationship. I got so wrapped up in taking care of myself, I forgot to water my garden. And then I think, relationships are two-way streets. I don’t recall missing phone calls. I don’t think there were phone calls. I can safely say that chronic illness drives people away. Other people left because I starting standing firm for things I believe. Basically, I rubbed them the wrong way. Yet, some just faded away. I’ve been told that there are reasons for all this. I wish I could figure out those reasons.
I think I’ve burned a bridge unintentionally. I’ve been revisiting events and conversations for about it for 2 days now, looking at all the angles and analyzing the data. But there is still one angle that I can’t quite grasp. The words being used don’t make sense. Should I stay and try to salvage the relationship on the basis of it’s a misunderstanding that time will take care of? Or do I flee, torch in hand. It’s probably going to take a few weeks to put that relationship in the right place.
There is another relationship that I’m struggling with, a more personal one. I have made some new friends. I reached out and made considerable effort to connect. I guess I knew from the beginning that I was trying too hard. But, I really wanted to establish a friendship. Call that my social deficit…sometimes I just really want to make something great happen.
A few weeks into this process, I could tell I was an interloper. Another friendship existed and while I felt I could co-exist with that friendship, apparently I can’t. Conversations were had without me, even though the topic involved me. I knew what was happening by the tenor of the conversations. Little hints dropped here and there that I suspect were meant to soften the blow of being dismissed. I suspect that because I too have used this strategy. Letting people down gently is a noble thought that rarely works out.
I don’t like this feeling of dismissal. It feels like high school all over again where I’m just not good enough to be one of the popular kids. It shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I feel those same feelings of being strung along. Not quite to the level of saying I feel used, but I most definitely feel snubbed.
And then I realize that the other parties may not know how things look to me. Just because once I commit to something, I’ll stick with it until the end doesn’t mean anyone else will. Just because I work very hard to help people feel comfortable around me doesn’t mean they will. It’s just plain awkward.
So yes, I’m hurt. I’m hurt because these friends agreed to something and then backed out. I’m hurt because I was never really in the equation even though I was led to believe I was part of the equation. I’m hurt because I wasn’t told the truth. I would still be hurt if I was told they thought I was party crashing, but I don’t think it would be nearly as painful as knowing that conversations were had and a plan to back out was implemented.
As one saying goes, some people are in our lives as lessons. Obviously, this week I needed schooling. Lots of schooling. I needed to feel how my little white lies were hurting others. I needed to feel the sting of disappointment before I got too far ahead of myself. I needed to learn that while I crave connection, others do not.
So, your challenge. Try to use your words wisely. Don’t promise me a date when you have no intention of keeping it. If you can, think about making and keeping a date, even if it’s just for coffee. There’s so much aloneness in the world that your offer could be the lifeline I need to keep looking forward. The hour you spend keeping me company is a gift in my eyes.
Above all, be true to yourself. You probably don’t want people to start thinking poorly of you. Your words, coupled with your actions, tell me what kind of person you truly are, through and through. Make sure that what I see is something you can be happy about.
Please try not to break me. I feel things very deeply and I can only handle so much rejection before I crack. You may not be perceptive enough to see the duct tape and super glue. I still believe that it’s there for anyone who takes the time to look for it.
PS- Yes, I have Autism. Yes, I know that impacts my perceptions and feelings. But, you don’t have to be Autistic to know that words hurt.