Last month, a family member really hurt me. Not physically, but emotionally. This is hard for me to admit because I like to think that I’m strong enough to not let things bother me. Thank my 15 years in law enforcement for that. But the reality is that sometimes other people’s words (and actions) dig incredibly deep.
Originally when they hurt me, I told myself that they were just thoughtless. They had no idea that what they did would affect me the way it had.
Then I wondered if they just didn’t care. I was an unimportant part of their life so it didn’t really matter to them one way or another the impact of their words or actions. We were related by blood, but that was as far as our relationship needed to go.
The more I tried to figure out the reason behind their actions, the more potential scenarios I came up with. I wasn’t sure which one was right, but they all ended with us parting ways. We would be cordial when together, but that was about it.
Well, this past weekend I decided that, instead of just guessing what prompted their behavior, I would come out and ask. So, I sent them a text to kind of “test the waters.” I got crickets. No response whatsoever.
I can’t even begin to tell you the stories this prompted in my head. Instead of trying to convince myself that this family member simply didn’t realize that they were hurting, they had now acted intentionally. I went from being genuinely hurt to becoming genuinely pissed!
I had done nothing to this person to prompt being totally ignored. After stewing about it all night, I finally fell asleep with the realization that our relationship was essentially over. I was done trying.
I have no idea what happened while I slept, but I woke up the next morning with a different attitude. Yes, I could go on with my original plan and live my life like normal, with the person no longer in it. But that no longer felt right.
I’ve spent years being passive-aggressive, not saying when things bother me but altering my behavior toward the other person so they would “get the point.” If you’ve ever been passive-aggressive yourself, you know that this doesn’t work. They usually have no idea what prompted your change in behavior. Thus, nothing gets fixed.
So, I picked up the phone and called this person. When they answered, they sounded pretty cheerful. Within the first couple of sentences, they also explained that they didn’t respond to my text because they wanted to talk to me instead…which they planned to do that day. They even thanked me for calling them!
We went on to talk for quite a while about what was going on with each of us, and it was during that conversation that I reminded myself that sometimes my inner storyteller is a liar. She has my best interest at heart because she really wants to protect me, but sometimes the stories she comes up with in the process are just downright bullshit.
I could have saved myself a lot of grief if, instead of listening to her, I would have reached out sooner to learn the truth. Granted, things may not have went as well as they did, but even then, at least I would know what I was dealing with.
That way, instead of coming up with 1,000 different scenarios about what might be going on, I would have known what was going on. This would’ve enabled me to deal with the situation head on versus getting so tired mentally that I wanted to give up and walk away.
Is there something that you’re struggling to understand right now? A story that you’re telling yourself because you have no idea what happened or why it happened?
If so, I encourage you to challenge your inner storyteller. Ask yourself if the things you’re telling yourself must be true beyond the shadow of the doubt. If not, and if possible, I also encourage you to find out what the real story is. Reach out to the other person and learn the reality behind what they’re saying or doing.
The truth may be a bitch sometimes, but I’ll take it over a lie any day because, with the truth, I at least know where I stand. With the truth, I’m also able to make an informed decision about how to proceed. With the truth, you can do the same thing too.
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