I am the author of The Darkness Within a mental health memoir that is out now on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. I have a bachelors in Psychology from Bradley University and I worked as a mental health professional in two mental health facilities. I also was a foster care case worker on the West side and South side of Chicago, Illinois. I have over 12 years of experience in my field of Social Work.
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We all at some point in our lives have said something to someone we care about that hurts them. How do you deal with the shame and guilt that comes after? I have personally experienced this, the question is the how? How did I get to a place where I would have allowed myself to say something to hurt another person I care for?
When we make friendships and connections in our lives these relationships are fragile. Meaning, the person you come to trust with your ideas, thoughts, feelings it creates a vulnerability. At the same time you need to realize that the other person is also sharing the same thoughts and feelings to you.
For me since I have had so much trauma in my past. I have always had a flight or fight reaction when it comes to my relationships in my life.
The research I have read says I am in a constant state of “trauma mind.” Does this give me an excuse to treat another I care for with words of hurt? The answer to this…Absolutely not. We are in control of our emotions and for this we need to be held accountable. It is up to you as the individual to sincerely apologize, take accountability for your behavior, and hope the other person can forgive. That is what you can hope for in this situation.
There are times when I have not felt I was my “best self” and it makes me feel that I do not deserve love and friendship. This is a conditioned response from past abuse. When children are abused and become adults it is difficult to accept, receive friendship and love.
The truth is, when you have a friendship you have to be gentle and care for the other person as you would care for yourself. I am middle aged you think by this time I would have learned this lesson. I teach this to my own children, I am a work in progress. Every day I try to work on myself and have the self awareness to be present within myself and my actions.
The friend you have hurt you need to give them the time and space to heal from the hurt. It is not healthy to project your emotions onto them. The truth…the projection comes from you being shut out by your friend who trusted you. Who is to blame for this? YOU. So there are two ways this situation can end. If a connection and friendship is strong enough it will survive. The person who you hurt. They will find it within themselves to hear the how, and feel settled with the fact you owned what you did.
When you explain honestly to your friend make them understand that you did not mean what you said. Having open and honest communication to explain the place these words came from. You slowly regain the friendship to the way it was with time and the rebuilding of trust.
Or it could go the opposite way. You could potentially lose this close friend and for that you have to accept. People have standards of other people in their lives. No one wants to be treated poorly just like you would not want to be. If this is how the person feels.
It is up to you to respect how they feel, let them let you go.
This is the hardest scenario, because having someone who you are so used to having in your daily life is now gone. There is going to be a mourning process that you will have to go through. Every word that comes out of our mouths as humans we have to be aware how it will affect others. Each person has feelings and you have to treat those feelings with care. There are lessons in every day life people come into our lives for reasons I believe. To teach us how to become better people, to show us things in ourselves we did not know existed.
I only can have self forgiveness I can hate myself for not being aware of how I was behaving. Or I can take a step back, evaluate the how and why and rationally accept the fact I messed up. I am choosing to be hopeful that the person I care for will find forgiveness. That is all I can hope for…
The most selfish thing a person can do in friendship. Is to say something hurtful push their actions back on the other person. Not taking the accountability for being mean. Self growth is about owning your mistakes and communicating how to make it better. If you do the work to be a better friend and person at least you are willing to have self awareness. We are all human and at the end of the day treat others as you would want to be treated.