Recently I was sent back to a place where I remembered how I’ve felt for the majority of my life – like my feelings don’t matter. Emotionally, this is one of the most alienating places to be. It is a hollow place of alienation. It is also not true. Feelings do matter.
My heart aches at the thought that I really mean so little or nothing to certain people that I love or loved. I say this because when someone truly means something to you, you care how they’re feeling and want the best for them. The communication I had with this person bespoke of the lack of caring.
I told him how hurt I was from some comments he’s made over the last eight years . He told me I’d insulted him and was being selfish for saying it hurt me! (Silence) How does that even work?
The sad thing is that I’ve been told this all my life by different people. I’ve been called selfish because I spoke up about the hurt, hoping it could be worked through and changed. Usually, though, it is met with it being my fault for the hurt followed by my being told I was being selfish for bringing it up. When this approach is used and you don’t know anything else, you really come to believe you are selfish if you ever show your hard feelings or want something personally, no matter what the request. It is a tactic used to silence the hurt party to take the focus off anything being the person using the tactic’s fault or responsibility. Not caring about someone’s feelings is not caring about the person. Feelings do matter.
It is a highly damaging thing to do. We are all guilty of doing it at one point or another and when it happens, an apology needs to be made and the issue needs to be worked through. However, when it happens on a regular basis, it can be crippling to the person to which it is said. I have said before that I have a very hard time identifying rough feelings because I’ve learned to group memories by the way they make me feel and not by labeling the feeling. This has helped me be able to continue to function at a level where most people don’t see my pain, but it is awful when I allow myself to or can’t stop myself from actually feeling a rough emotion. When this happens, I don’t just experience what is going on at the moment, I’m also assaulted by the memories from when I felt the same emotion. It is horrible! I’m working to understand the real meaning of feelings so maybe I can just feel them, work through them and move on instead of storing them away in some memory box in my mind filled with other events that made me feel this way so I can recall it later when I’m already hurting.
The other damaging part of this tactic is that there is rarely ever an apology and the issue is never resolved. It just lingers in the background of the relationship for as long as it exists. There is never full trust or freedom to talk with the person again without some guardedness being present. Each person regards the other differently throughout the rest of the relationship. There is no healing. There can’t be.
It is a tragedy when this happens because it’s something that can be avoided completely. The issues that should be attacked in any hurtful situation are the feelings, not the people involved. We can take times where someone is hurt and can heal together and build each other up or we can hurt the person deeper to keep ourselves from possibly having to accept responsibility, make changes and grow as a person. There are only positives to gain to work through the issue. To grow as a person is always good, but we also get the added benefit of being able to learn more about the other person. It is definitely worth the work involved, because feelings do matter in and for every person.
– Joanna Lynn