Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Your Hardened Heart

It hurt when they lied to you, when they couldn't see the plea in your heart. Didn't it?

And so you hardened yours, and you turned away, and you said it didn't matter. You said you were fine.

But you weren't. Not really. A hard heart isn't fine.

You tried to make it okay. And you tried to heal. And you tried to forgive. Maybe you were successful, maybe you weren't. And yet your heart is still hard.  Because if you don't soften it, then it can't be hurt again.

Then, you can't be hurt again.

But a hard heart doesn't get to feel much love, either. A hard heart is tough to find a way into, and repels a multitude of attempts.

You want to protect... but what you really need to do is trust.  Even if you get hurt again, what you need is trust.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Never Speak of It

We said we'd never speak of it. I know.

And so we don't, at least not in words.  
But the fact of it hangs in the air.

It's in the way we don't speak of it. It's in the sidelong glances and the heaviness of the silence. 
It's in the awkwardness and the stops and the starts. It's in the politeness. 
It's in the way we tiptoe around it, lest one of us slips.

We don't talk about it. We pretend it isn't there, and we're afraid of what speaking of it would do. 
How would it change things? What parts of us would it break? 
What parts could we never get back?

So we tiptoe, and we talk about other things. We stay where it's safe.

But I think we both know we're pretending... and that as long as we play it safe...

...we aren't playing it real.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Broken Pieces

Sometimes, when I look inside myself, I see a lot of broken pieces.

Relationships that went awry and left me torn up inside.
Choices I wish I hadn't made.
Words I wish I hadn't said.
Choices and words I wish I had.
Barbs that sunk into my heart and never let go.
Insecurities I can't shake.
Fears I can't let go.

Just a lot of broken pieces.

And when I look at those pieces, sometimes I wonder what I'm doing. 
Why do I bother trying to tell my stories, or share my heart. 
How can I be of any help to anyone when I am such a mess myself? 
How can any good come out of all these broken shards?

But, I read something the other day that made me smile and made it clear.

Broken crayons still color.

You can still make art even if your crayons aren't sharpened to a perfect point.
Maybe the art won't look the same.
It will look different.

And, you know, maybe art is okay when it isn't perfect.
Maybe it's better.

Friday, July 18, 2014

When Anger Becomes Cruelty

Sometimes when we're angry... what comes out... is mean.

We want revenge. We want the other person to feel the same pain that they inflicted. So we're mean. We don't just explain why we're angry, or why what the other person did or said was hurtful.

No...  we go for the jugular. We want them to pay. We say the things that we know will hurt the most. We try to turn other people against them. We have our excuses that we tell ourselves... but really... we're just being mean. It's not even an eye for an eye... it's more like a whole heart for a hangnail.

When called on that, I've seen people say, "This is just who I am.  'Honest.' I'm just saying what I think!  Take me or leave me." I hope I haven't been that person... but I probably have.

I think it's a terrible way to excuse cruelty... Maybe it is just the way someone is. Maybe they are just being honest, just being themselves. But I can't imagine being okay with "deliberately cruel" being the person that I am. I can't imagine "complete lack of compassion" being something that I am okay with embracing.

I'm sorry for someone like that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

But What if You're Angry?

So, what can you do with the anger when it's there?

First, I think that we have to accept that we're angry.  Don't push it down yet...  especially as women, I think we teach ourselves that feeling anger isn't okay. That we're wrong or bad -- and I just don't think that's true. It's okay to feel anger. It's okay that you do.

But, second, and this ties back to what I wrote about on Tuesday, you have to think about why you're angry.  Not just what they did or said that made you angry -- but why did that action or those words affect you? Why did they bring up so much ick inside of you? Think about what emotions got churned up... and too, think about what is it that you want to happen?

Do you just want to scream out what they did? Do you want an apology? Do you want them to change?

But, maybe you can't get there yet.  Maybe you're too close and still too mad to think about those things, and I think that's okay. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Take some moments to breathe and let the anger seep out of you a little bit. Hit the pillow... scream into it, if that's your thing.

And eventually, it will be time to communicate what really upset you. "Explain your anger, don't explode it." Talk about how what they did or said made you feel, why it made you feel that way.

And sometimes... sometimes they won't get it. Sometimes they will misunderstand what you're saying, and I think it can be helpful to jump into their shoes. What could they have been feeling when they said the things they said? What could they be feeling now as you're talking about things? Is there a part of you that can understand that?

I think that one of my favorite bits of advice on anger came from a child -- from an article I read on the internet somewhere --  and the child's advice was this:

When you start to angry...  scrunch up your face really tight.  
Keep it scrunched up for as long as you can, and then let it go... 
letting the anger crash to the floor and break into pieces.  
That way, the mad doesn't get into your brain.

There's something about that I liked.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Under the Anger

Possibly one of the most important lessons I ever learned came from my mom. So, it must be true! And it goes something like this:

Anger is not just anger. It's a secondary emotion... 
and there's usually something hiding underneath it.

And 99 times out of 100, I've found that to be true.

Anger is sometimes a natural defense against pain.  We snatch it up without thinking because it's easier to be angry than it is to confront the confusion or the fear or the hurt or the sadness that lies underneath. It's easier to lash out at someone and attack them back than to tell them that they hurt us. Anger allows us to be the attacker...  Sharing a hurt puts us in the position of possibly being attacked once again.

We aren't wrong for feeling anger. I think that it can come naturally... but I think, too, that it's a choice to allow it to stay. Holding anger up as a shield in a moment of panic is a defense. Wielding the anger like a sword, once that moment of panic has subsided...  that's a decision.  It's a decision both to be an attacker... and to be an avoider.

Once the anger has passed... once it's been played out and lashed out through...  the emotions that brought it up are still there. You still have to deal with the hurt or the jealousy or the fear. It didn't go anywhere... you just heaped more conflict on top of it.

"Anger doesn't solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything."  And usually... "everything" includes you. Because the more you allow anger, and it's often hate and bitterness that follows it, to take hold of your heart, the less love there is left in you to enjoy the present.

When you're angry, when you feel that take hold of you... look underneath it.  What lies there?  Deal with that. Confront that.

Healing lies on the other side of it...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Living Moderately in a Polarized World

I don't always notice it... usually it's when some major political issue or election comes up, like recently with the Hobby Lobby ruling. But, on a political scale, I believe moderately.  What does that mean?  I tend to run towards the middle... there are some things that I would fall on one party's side for, and there are other issues that I fall on the other. And I think that, because of this, it's easier for me to think sanely about the people who lie on the other side of the issue of the day -- because sometimes those people are people I agree with, and sometimes they aren't. But, whatever the issue... they're the same people, with the same heart.

But, our world has become one that isn't very moderate. I don't know if it's always been this way, or if it's just that I notice it more as I've gotten older, or if it's truly changed with the advent of the internet. People are polarized... They believe all the way one way... or all the way the other way.  And there isn't a lot of middle ground.

But, I think that what's worse is that, with the polarization, people have somehow lost the ability to see the people on their other side. People who believe otherly have become the bad guys, they have become objects of anger. People forget that the people who believe differently... they're just people. Maybe with different thoughts, but with the same hearts.

I don't really know how to live in a world like that, so usually I just stay quiet about what I believe... or even what I'm not sure to believe. (Except for the occasional "HMPH" blog... I'll be honest.)

That happened to me yesterday... in two different places, amongst two different "sides," I voiced my thoughts that I wasn't sure. There were parts of both sides' arguments that I could identify with, and I hadn't yet worked out in my head what I fully thought about everything. Truly... I was the person you wanted to dialogue with if you wanted to draw me to your side.

But, in both places, the responses were merely filled with anger... and I've learned long ago that, especially on the internet, anger isn't what I want to tangle with. That's not dialogue.  That's just anger.

The truth is... I don't want to be polarized. I don't want to be unable to see the hearts of other people who may disagree with me. I don't want to forget that there are people on the other side of what I believe. And I certainly don't want to treat anyone who believes differently than me with hatred.

And it's easy for me to sit here and say these things on issues that I revolve around on the middle. But, it's made me think about what things, perhaps outside of politics, I am polarized on. It's made me think about how I treat people on the other side. And it's made me think about how I treat people who are in the middle.

Maybe it's just made me think of how I treat people... good ways, bad ways, and ways I'd like to tweak.
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