Sometimes we have something to say, but fear stops us. It could be the fear of hurting someone, or the fear that if we speak out, things will change. Maybe we aren’t ready to face the truth, or the consequences of talking about it. But love, honesty, growth and understanding, absolutely require communication. If you can’t tell someone how you feel, you’re in a relationship where true seeing and connection just aren’t possible.
If you’re a caretaker, this can become very problematic, because you may sacrifice your own needs to avoid making the other party uncomfortable, or angry or disappointed. Maybe you’re a people-pleaser who believes that’s the only way you’ll receive love. If you aren’t indispensable to someone, what’s going to keep them around? But, that’s not connection or love, that’s you editing yourself so that you don’t rock the boat. That’s you trying to fit yourself into some projection you have about what you think they want. It’s also a form of manipulation.
If you struggle with this kind of thing, you may have a very hard time holding someone accountable when they’ve hurt you. Maybe you’re so hard on yourself when you screw up, you assume everyone feels that way (they don’t :)). Not everyone berates themselves for being imperfect. When we’re insecure in ourselves, we’ll be insecure in our dealings with other people. The tendency in this scenario is to sell yourself, to be sure you do and say nothing that might upset or confront the other person, because then they might feel angry or disrespected, or over you. So you tiptoe around and try to be some perfect idea of what you think they want. Which is awful, because it isn’t really you. Where are you? Where is that authentic, unafraid, open-hearted you?
When we don’t tell people how we feel because we’re afraid they’ll feel terrible for letting us down in some big or small way, we lose the opportunity for growth on both sides of the equation. When we tell ourselves to forgive before we’re ready to do that, we repress our own feelings of anger, and we deny the other person an experience they might have needed for their own growth. Haven’t you learned more from your mistakes than you have from those times when you got everything right? Sometimes in an effort to save someone from the pain of being accountable for their actions, we steal from them a struggle they might have needed. We all screw up sometimes, it’s part of being human. Your job is not to make everything okay for everyone all the time.
Recently I was talking to a friend I’ve known for years. He’s trying to work up the courage to have a painful conversation with his dad, but he told me he’s afraid of what it might do to him. He doesn’t want to upset his dad, but he does want healing. He wants closeness, but in order to get there, he needs to revisit the past with him. He told me he doesn’t want his dad to have to grapple with what he did. And I said it was interesting, because my friend has been grappling with it for years.
Secrets make us sick. I’m not talking about trying to surprise your best friend on her birthday. Those kinds of secrets are beautiful. Anything we do to make the people in our lives feel special and celebrated is awesome. I’m talking about the other kind of secret. The kind you push down so everything looks shiny on the outside. Or the kind you sit on to avoid disappointing someone else. The truth wants out. In order to heal, we have to be able to look, and not just to look, but to see. Sending you love. And wishing you the strength and bravery to speak out and up when you need to, Ally Hamilton