Hurting people hurt people.
I’ve always believed these words to be true, but it hasn’t been until recently that I have come to know them to be profoundly true.
By the time we reach adulthood we have all accumulated our (un)fair share of hurts. And while some of these hurts come by way of physical, verbal, even sexual abuse, I have found that some of our deepest wounds look more like disappointments, regrets and our own insecurities. The what ifs…what could have beens…if onlys…
Our (inevitable) hurts become vehicles by which we hurt others when we give them the power to define us as a person. Where our identity is involved, so too is our ego and pride–the very parts of us that strive to defend and protect no matter the cost.
And it is from this place of self-protection, of self-preservation that I have experienced some of my greatest hurts from others. Hurting people hurt people, after all.
It may seem harmless at first, a passive aggressive comment here, a compliment that is neither endearing nor genuine there, but the consistent wake of destruction left behind from these interactions eventually becomes hard to ignore. The words spoken are like thorns, only rather than mere external flesh wounds, the attacks are more personal, aimed for the heart.
Mind the thorns.
I am learning to mind the thorns, the thorns that protect the tender hurts of others. Just as one must prepare the soil in different ways for different vegetation, so too am I learning to cultivate these old friendships in different ways.
It’s not a matter of abandonment, but one of learning to tread more carefully. Considering what they have been through and where they are, and doing the same for myself. When the outcome is consistently hurt, something must change. Otherwise, it’s just called insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results.
It’s hard to admit that a friendship has changed, but I suppose this is just a part of growing up, of life. We change, they change, and sometimes the chasm of change becomes too big, too far, too much for us to forge. Or, maybe it’s just not our chasm at this time, in this space.
I once heard that we have three types of friendships: the ones that last a season; the ones for a specific reason; the ones that last a lifetime. While I might argue over the finality of this typing system, I do know that there are ebbs and flows, natural currents that all friendships experience.
More than anything, I am realizing that hurtful words spoken say much more about the person speaking them than they ever do about the one they’re spoken to.
Hurting people may hurt people, but I get to make choices for myself in how I interact, handle situations and move forward with people who are hurting me and/or others. I do no have to remain silent, I have a voice. I do not have to remain in the situation, I can walk away. I refuse to carry the shame and insecurities, guilt and disappointments of others, those are not the burdens we are asked to share with one another.
Hopefully the thorns will soften with healing, but maybe they will only grow longer and stronger. There will be seasons to draw close just as certainly as there will be seasons of retreat. I guess, really, I just want to be better in adjusting my own expectations and acting accordingly, making the necessary coarse adjustments along the way.
And maybe that’s just really called wisdom.