• Owning my hurt

    by Christy Sillman

    In the 8th grade, the leader of my group of girlfriends informed me that I was no longer allowed to sit with them at lunch. They stated I was “too annoying” to hang out with. What a horrible after-school special moment I experienced and I carried that pain with me for far too long.

    My need to please others, perfectionist ideals, and generalized anxiety creates a toxic combination that leads to my thin-skinned nature. The need for approval from others and relying on external forces to create my self-esteem has dulled and clouded my soul.

    After I gave birth to my son, I experienced a sensitivity crisis. Every strange look and innocent comment was like a knife to my heart. The guilt and fear was almost too much to bear.

    I began reflecting on the origin of my pain and realized how I had been creating a skewed reality for myself. This was an organic practice — brought on by my soul’s need for peace.

    Something amazing happened in the process — I began to change.

    When an old friend of mine was very hurt by my own inadvertent actions, I got a glimpse into the nature of interpersonal pain. I never intended to hurt my friend, but in hindsight I can see how my actions were insensitive. Despite what now seems obvious, I was completely unaware of the pain I was inflicting. It was only when she sought revenge that I even knew there was a problem. She was angry, sad, and had internalized a projection of me that didn’t really exist.

    I’ve hypothesized that the real cause of hurtful behavior lies with one or more of these motives:

    – Self-absorption
    – Oblivion
    – Miscommunication/confusion
    – Carelessness
    – A projection of one’s own internal pain
    – Trying to elevate one’s self through the destruction of another
    – Revenge

    Aside from revenge, most of these motives are not personal. It’s their problem — not yours. Even with revenge, once you’ve determined your responsibility, apologized, and respected their wishes — all further hurtful behavior on their behalf is now their own issue with harboring hurt.

    The only person causing pain is the person who accepts it as pain.

    So I’ve decided the goal isn’t building a thicker skin or building walls. I like my soul’s heart open and exposed — it makes me the loving person I am. In my search for peace I discovered meditation. I’m learning how to let go of the constant chatter in my brain and how to consciously participate in the beauty of my life. I also began processing hurtful behavior in a new way — the meditative way.

    I acknowledge the behavior and how it feels, then introspectively investigate my responsibility — and then

    It’s not what other people do or say that hurts you — it’s how you allow yourself to internalize their nastiness.

    It sounds so simple and too easy — but simple is good.

    I encourage you to explore any hurt you may have experienced, or like I did, hurt you have caused. What were the motives?

    Another key component is expectations. Expectation is the house disappointment lives in. I’m trying to lower my expectations — not only of others but also of myself. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. Doing my best is better than being the best. Changing my view of personal failures into learning opportunities is the best gift I’ve even given myself.

    Besides continuing to practice this new meditative hurt-processing method I’m also trying to decrease my hurt footprint. Trying to be mindful of my interactions with others, decrease gossip, and realize that my need to “vent” to others could cause the person I’m venting about harm. Also, venting doesn’t solve problems — calm, direct, and kind discussion with the person who is frustrating you will help solve future issues.

    If you choose kindness – kindness will choose you.

    It’s very easy to feel like a victim. It’s the easy way out. Even survivors of horrible crimes, people who could justifiably wear the victim crown, find a way to break free from the emotional chains of the crime and DECIDE to stop giving the perpetrator control. It’s hard to decide this — consciously — and to let go of pain, but once you do it’s amazing what’s waiting for you on the other side.

    Let. It. Go.

    • Great thoughts today Christy. I am glad you are finding the path to peace for yourself. A wise person once told me you just have to be “good enough” and certainly not perfect as seeking perfection will always leave you wanting. It is unattainable.

      • Tammy

      • June 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm
      • Reply

      Christy, once again you have written so eloquently. How many people were hurt with words as a child… And hung on to the hurt into adulthood. Great advice to just-Let It Go!! We hang on to hurt while others go on with their lives!

      • Linda

      • June 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm
      • Reply

      I Was bullied as a child, and humiliated through life. I even found myself bullied as an adult. I found myself running away in all instances. I too learned that very thin skin. Now that I am a Grandmother, I have found some of the painful things that I have done to others were a reflection of what I felt. How much you learn through life. Good and bad. It is only when you recognize what has happened to yourself and what pain you caused others do you learn from the bullies not to be one.

      • Aunt Lisa

      • June 3, 2012 at 8:08 pm
      • Reply

      Christy, I have to say that I enjoyed this article especially because I have a tendency to not let things go. It is a continual process, and I still get stuck sometimes. I have some friends here who have already shared your article with their friends on Facebook. Love you. Miss you.

    • Oh eighth grade was HELL. Thankfully we have all moved on, grown, learned, forgiven.
      Very nicely written. Thank you.

      • Jamie

      • June 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm
      • Reply

      We are more alike than I knew. That was wonderfully put and words we all should live be. You are such a motivational speaker/writer.

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