As the semester draws to a close you can be assured that you will see more procrastinatory entries from me.
I went for a run on this mild sunless November afternoon. I decided to try something new, since I don’t need to run a certain number of miles like I did when I was training. So I just ran wherever I felt like it, and went down little side roads I had never explored and just ran until I felt like running back home, which I did by cutting across the flattened yellow and brown fields.
As I ran, I thought about the experience of hurt. Hurt, and recovering from hurt, is a theme predominant in therapy as well as life. People have a great variety of defenses, normal and pathological, against hurt. Some can effectively cope with hurt and legitimately move on. Others carry hurt around with them forever. Some are unaware they are carrying it with them. Others are acutely aware. For them, the wound never seems to heal and the hurt surfaces again and again, the pain as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
What exactly is the difference between the hurt that goes away and the hurt that stays? Does it depend on the situation and who rendered, intentionally or unintentionally, the hurt? Or is it inherent in the personality or sensitivity of the person who is hurting? Or is it based on the vulnerabilities of the person, the origins tracing back to the forgotten annals of childhood? Probably, a complex mix of all three.
Ok. So what is the best way to effectively resolve hurt? In this case I’m going to focus on those who experience hurt deeply and struggle with it because it lingers for years. Clearly these people, myself included, are not very good at letting go, forgiving, or moving on. Whatever the situation warrants in order to recover from the hurt and let it drift away, we do not do, and instead we strap the hurts on our back and swim against the current with it. The hurt burdens, aches, and relentlessly recycles in the mind. It leaves us stuck, anxious, and angry. No matter what we do to get over it, it has the ability to come back, unbidden. It catches us in a moment of silence, or it creeps up behind us at our desk or in our car, or it overwhelms us when our mood is down.
Those of us, then, need help to get over the hurt. The best way, probably, is to approach the person who hurt you and talk to them about it. Unfortunately, not many people are able to listen, recognize or accept your hurt feelings and whatever role they might have played in it. Instead they become defensive, or act like you are overly sensitive, irrational, silly. They ignore it completely. They joke about it. They look at you coldly in the eye and say “Don’t do this.” And for my overly sensitive self, this makes the situation far worse and I am left thinking that there is something wrong with me. I am stripped of all dignity and my feelings are shoved back at me, unrecognized. Healing can come from geniune acceptance, recognition and respect of the other for me and for the situation. Even if you cannot understand my hurt, at least listen and accept, share my pain and still care about me.
Very few people can do that. So where to then? The other options are tougher, slower, lonelier. For some, journaling. For some, therapy. For some, medication. I am very fortunate and lucky though to have a husband and family who do listen (or put up with my over sensitivity) and to them I am very grateful.
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Nov 23rd 2003Uncategorized