Last week I had a hard realization in relation to a close-knit group of girlfriends from Miami and-of course- my stuff.
I had voiced that I felt sad about my perceived level of their interest in Home and that, although I know they care, my insecure feelings were feeding the thought "I'm not really going to make this happen."
Most of the responses my friends sent back were caring, reassuring and loving, which built me up, but then I had a couple of exchanges with one friend who was pretty invalidating. She was upset by what I shared. Her rather angry reaction prompted some hurt and shame for me and I found myself reflecting on what had happened for a little while that morning.
I worked through what she said. I understood that she had the belief I was implying she did not care. I understood that was not my opinion nor what I asserted. I realized that I could have phrased my feedback a little gentler and that she could have made her response more validating while still disagreeing with me. There is always a better way.
What I ended up truly gaining from this experience, though, was a deeper consideration of how we speak to people we love. Particularly when they are sharing things that are hard for us to hear. I made connections to more times when I had shared my feelings and people responded with judgment. To how that pushed me away, reinforcing the idea that I should keep things to myself. I also made connections to times in my relationships when I had behaved similarly to my friend- when I had been invalidating. This was usually prompted by someone telling me that they felt left out, sad that I had not invited them somewhere, or like they weren't getting enough attention from me. My internal reaction was feeling mad because it seemed to me that they were not valuing all of the things on my plate or were trying to control my choices. The overall sentiment feeling like I was doing something wrong....And so, that aha "you too" set in for me.
The recognition that I do what everyone does. I have the same feelings. I engage in the same behaviors. And I have the knowing that we are all susceptible to not doing our best. That sometimes "not our best" is "our best." And that we need to hold space instead of closing off. That we benefit from asking ourselves and each other questions and stretching-- to do better.
And so... I learned. I learned in a way that only this conflict could help me do. I learned a heart lesson that will help me respect myself and my people more. For that I am thankful. And for being awake enough to participate in this very human work, I am also thankful.