Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hearing Through Our Bitterness

It was a friendship that had begun to sour.  Actually, it was past the souring point, but we were still in the phase where you dread the drama of the actual "break-up" enough that you're still friends on social media and you're still hovering in each other's circles.  Not because you're still a part of each other's lives... but you just don't want to deal with the trauma that will ensue when you hit the "unfriend" button. And as long as you don't, there's still that possibility of reconciliation.

There was a day that I'd said something.  Maybe I hadn't worded it right. Maybe I hadn't taken the time to read it with other tones than the one I wrote in before I hit Send. Suffice it to say that she heard it much differently than I said it.  We're talking MILES differently here.  The venomously responsive status of her own was the moment I knew. It was the moment where I knew that there was so much anger harbored there that she was no longer able to see anything I said through anything but a haze of bitterness and hatred. It took me aback. I didn't know until then. It was also the moment I knew for sure that there would never be any reconciliation between us.

It's funny about that.  Since then, I've really noticed how the way we think of someone colors how we hear the words they say and write.  If it's someone you really like, you're more apt to hear their words through a veil of positive thoughts. You assume that their tones and intents are ones of peace and goodwill and humor, and you hear them accordingly.

On the flipside, if it's someone we don't like... or someone that we've come to have bad blood with, our perceptions of how they say things change.  No longer do we assume that they meant well.  Instead, we assume that they didn't. We hear snark and pettiness and self-pity.

I've been there too, and not just on the receiving end.  Sometimes I'll hear the words of someone through my own veil of bitterness, and I have to be very proactive about asking, "Is that fair?  Are you hearing honestly?" Many times, the answer is "No." I have to pull myself back from hearing through my hurts.  They do color, and they color dishonestly. They make you hear things sometimes that just aren't there.

I guess there's a part of us that wants to believe that the people who have hurt us are bad. We want everything they say and do to be a support of why we're right and why they were wrong, and why they continue to be wrong.  It's some sort of weird self-validation.

But I guess it's not really fair to them.  So it's good to be aware of it, to know it's there. When you find yourself awash in that bitter ocean, sometimes the awareness is as much of a lifesaver as you need to pull yourself back to the shore so that you can listen honestly and truthfully.

Photo Credit: John Mallon


  1. Oh yes! This can be so difficult, to recognize I'm hearing with different ears. I think, quite honestly, it's what we do on a bigger scale withpolitics even. But in personal relationships it can hit quite hard.

    1. I can see that with politics too. It's always very eye-opening to me when I force myself to see that's what I'm doing. You do it without even thinking about it...

  2. Yes- I have recognized this in myself and have been so thankful for the opportunity to reconcile with someone by realizing this! The weird self-validation thing- yeah, not pretty, is it?

    1. Nope, not so pretty. But we can always recognize it and curtail it, and that's a good thing. :)

  3. excellent words........something I have learned growing up in the past few years..... :)


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