Everyone makes mistakes, but when do those mistakes become a pattern? Our brain is built to gravitate toward patterns, which is why we tend to see faces in everything. So, it stands to reason that we recognize patterns in human behavior. The importance of this isn’t just recognition, but taking action once the distinct pattern emerges.
I posted something on Facebook today, and I really feel like writing about it may help someone. If nothing else, it may help me through the healing that I am trying to achieve.
Sometimes we care about someone so much that we want to tell ourselves that their actions are simply a result of ignorance. “They hurt me, but they didn’t mean it. They couldn’t have.” Or “Surely they wouldn’t hurt me like that.” Be careful! People will show you who they are if you are just open enough to see and hear them. There is always a pattern. We just have to find it. One of the hardest things to do is accept when someone you care about is hurting you intentionally.
As a PTSD survivor, I’ve learned that there are many things that trigger me. In fact, I can’t even keep it all straight most of the time. Someone who is supposed to care about me actually told me that it was hard for them to keep track of everything that triggers me. I know that’s true. I can’t imagine trying to be supportive of me when I’m at my worst. With that said, I think it is important to understand the triggers of someone you love. I also think that work needs to go into avoiding them. Sometimes there’s no winning, and I realize that. With that said, if you decide to have a heart-felt conversation with someone about a trigger and the person chooses to make a decision that provokes that trigger, do they really care about you? Did they hear you? Did they listen? The quick answer to that would seem to be no. I am a firm believer that actions and words have to line up. If someone is nodding their head in agreement or understanding and turns around an engages in an action that is linked to your trigger it would stand to reason that one of two things have happened. They either didn’t listen or they didn’t care.
So let’s take the first one. They didn’t listen. In any relationship, whether it is familial or otherwise, listening is key component to communication. The sad part is that most people communicate to be heard. They don’t actively listen to what’s being said. They are waiting for their turn to speak. In the process of all of that, what you say gets lost. So, nothing gets internalized.
The second possibility is that they didn’t care. Unfortunately, I know too many people who allow their ego to get the better of them. Sadly, most of them are men. I am not beating up the male gender by any means, but nine times out of ten a man, especially young men, allow their ego to make some pretty irrational decisions. That’s not to say that women are any better. I know some pretty terrible females who simply do not care who they hurt in the course of their conquests.
Back to the, “they didn’t care.” This is where you have to dig deeper for a pattern. Has their bad behavior been consistent? Have you told them that it hurts you? Does the behavior continue even after you have voiced your hurt? Have they tried to blame YOU for their poor behavior? If the answer to these is “yes,” it’s time to do some soul searching and decide if the person has a place in your life.
Everyone hurts. Everyone gets hurt. Everyone hurts someone else. That is just human nature. Nevertheless, when someone repeatedly hurts you, that is not okay. You have to learn what is best for your mental health and move toward healing, even if it means cutting certain people out of your life. This isn’t something that is simple nor easy. It’s hard. It’s terrible. It makes us feel as if we are constantly losing at this game called life. Someday, however, we will be able to accept the situation for what it is, call it by its right name, and move on. Until that day comes, don’t be too hard on yourself. Mental abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse have a way of rewiring the brain, which will change everything down to your core personality. Stop beating yourself up for things you didn’t have anything to do with, and don’t let anyone blame you for your abuse. Don’t allow someone to use your abuse as a scapegoat so they can be blameless. That is another form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, stop allowing others to have a go at you. Stand your ground. Be true to you. Call people out. Take back your power. Just because someone hurt you doesn’t mean you have to continue to be a punching bag for their poor decisions, their ego, and their lack of empathy. Always be true to you.
I am in the process of trying to believe the aforementioned paragraph. It’s easy for me to tell you these things; what actions to take and how to do it. Still, it isn’t so easy to execute that plan in my life. It is difficult to heal. It takes strength, and sometimes you won’t feel all that strong. It’s okay to say, “I need space.” It’s okay to say, “What you did to me was wrong, and I am angry with you.” It’s okay to say, “The way you’re treating me isn’t fair.” It is okay to acknowledge your feelings. From what I understand as a practitioner and a patient, those are the first steps to trying to put your life back together. It is an uphill battle every single day. The important thing is to never give up. When you see a pattern, recognize it for what it is and act accordingly. Take that lesson with you so that you will be able to avoid it in the future.