Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Somewhere, recently, I read of someone who was talking about how hard it was to not be understood. Not heard, I offered in a response, and thus invisible. Or sometimes not heard because the other person is lost in their past, assuming "you" when what was said was "we". A fight ensues, separates quarters are retreated to by lovers. Productivity ensues because it's so much easier than facing each other and apologizing. Apologies require facing the hurts we feel that have absolutely nothing to do with what just transpired, and absolutely everything to do with the two people arguing moments ago in a kitchen.

I struggle with how to bridge the silence that follows heated exchanges. How do you know when you are ready to engage, with love and the trigger is extinguished? If it's hard to know for yourself it is next to impossible to know when the other person has reached that spot. Edges feel frayed, skin tender listening for the next word hoping it will be soothing, fearing it will form a flinch. Both of you are tired, it's late, deadlines are looming and this just makes everything seem harder. The feelings just swirl and none of them are settled or calm.


Anonymous said...

One of the things that we have agreed to early on is that we each know the other would not deliberately say hurtful things.

When I find myself reacting to something that is hurtful, I have to pull that out and remember it - then try to compare what was said against that standard. More often than not, I find that I am reacting to something internal that was triggered by statements not related to how I am feeling.

It's taken a long time to develop the ability to examine my reactions - and I have put a lot of effort into identifying what my triggers are.

My partner is almost as good at it as I am, and my sisters are getting better.

The key element of this is trust - deep abiding trust, unquestionable trust.

The other thing that makes this work is that each of us know who the other is. That seems simple, but it allows my partner to ignore a meltdown of mine until I realize it's not connected to current reality. I get the space to come to grips with what ever past issue is beating me up at the time, without any recriminations on her part. When I apologise, she lets me know that she knew I would figure it out.

It also enables me to stand outside of her meltdowns, to not take it personally. To point out that I didn't do or say what she's reacting to.

Then, no grudges, no hidden hurts.. no agendas. No holding on to old crap.

Anonymous said...

i was going to say some things similiar to barbara, but this early in the morning, i can't do better than that. i guess i will just add, there is value in silence and letting feelings settle in our heart and mind. so don't feel bad about separating for a while after a fight. at least for me, it's absolutely necessary.

the knowing when to come back together thing, that is tricky. i usually just wait until i feel ready, and the other person looks relatively calm, and then go for it. if they're ready, they're not. but at least i tried.

goblinbox said...

Love is the answer.

Cheesy but true. Ask: Is what I'm about to say loving? What's my goal? Do I want to heal, or do I want to cause more hurt?

Ach. Human relationships. HARD.