Sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of dismissing the fact that words can hurt. Words are just that, words. Words will only hurt you if you let them. I’ve said those things. And I was wrong. Sort of.
I still believe them to a point, but it depends on who’s saying the words.
Let me explain.
After my sophomore year in high school, I encased my heart in a protective fortress. Move after move after move after move had shattered my heart mercilessly. While each move was a chance to meet new people, each move was also the end of close friendships. I couldn’t handle the loss any longer, so I shut myself off from the world. I stopped making connections. I stopped making friends. My logic was simple: if I quit letting people in I could never be hurt by the loss of those people.
I kept my heart in an impenetrable prison for many years. Through both marriages, in fact. My wives were the only people who ever got close to me. Who knew me for who I was. They knew me inside and out. They knew things no one else knew and I knew things about them that no one else knew. I had no one else besides them, and it truly never bothered me.
Once my second marriage deteriorated, though, I found myself in the precarious position of needing someone to reach out to and having no one there to reach back. It was a harrowingly lonesome feeling I didn’t like at all. Against years of painstakingly crafted instincts, I started letting people in again. I have made many great friends over the past year, but I’ve also been hurt many times over the past year. Disagreements have led to some bitter things being said, and those words have hurt me.
In the last 7 or 8 months, I’ve been accused by a numerous people of doing horrible things completely outside of my character in the aftermath of disagreements we’ve had. Had any normal person accused me of such treachery I would not have cared. Some person I don’t know accusing me of something like that is just an ignoramus talking out of his or her ass. However, these people knew me. They were close to me. I cared about them. I trusted them and I thought they trusted me. Their accusations struck at my very soul.
One of these instances is what prompted me to take my hiatus from blogging back in August. Life had gotten too overwhelming and I needed to take a step back from everything. I needed a break to put myself back together.
I know on occasion my actions have hurt others, whether inadvertently or in ignorance. I am not happy about that. In fact, it depresses me almost as much as it does the people I have hurt. I can’t stand the thought of hurting anyone. I’ve been fumbling around through life the last year and a half, struggling with the oppression of depression and dealing with the multiple changes that come along with separation, reconciliation, then separation again, and finally divorce. None of that serves to excuse the mistakes I’ve made, but my heart and mind have been in unfamiliar territory for the majority of that time and I’ve been struggling to do the right thing during those times. That being said, however, I’ve also done the best I can with the cards I’ve been dealt and I have never, ever hurt anyone intentionally.
I’m writing all of this to get it out of my head. Part of the reason I love blogging so much is for its therapeutic qualities. Friends, I know we won’t always agree. I know friendships die. Lives change and we move on to other things. Does hostility need to be a part of the endings, though? Is it really necessary to lash out? Is it necessary to say hurtful things? Do we really have an inherent need to hurt those who have hurt us, even if it was unintentional? Take a step back from things and really look at them. Not through your heart, but through your mind. Lashing out when you’re hurting only serves to burn bridges faster and more thoroughly.
Bridges can be rebuilt, though.
I want you, dearest reader, to take a step back the next time someone hurts you. Did the culprit really hurt you with malice aforethought or was it just a simple misunderstanding? Or even a complex misunderstanding? Do you truly believe that person has had an evil within them, lurking beneath the surface, just waiting for the opportune moment to strike?
The fact is, feelings are going to get hurt. It’s inevitable. What you have to decide for yourself is what the intentions of the offending person were. Were they just doing what they had to do to take care of themselves? Was it a miscommunication? Was it ignorance? Or were they really just a heinous bastard? In any case other than the last, look for forgiveness in your heart. Talk it out. Reconcile. Come to an understanding so history doesn’t repeat itself. None of us are perfect. We are all going to make mistakes. None of us should be permanently punished for a lapse in judgement.
You can never have too many friends. Isn’t a good friendship worth salvaging?