For as long as I can remember, feeling ‘hurt’ from interactions with others was part of my life. I could easily react to harsh words, behaviours, actions, dismissiveness, abuse, violence, abrasiveness, lovelessness, rejection, arrogance, being controlled, lack of consideration and understanding – really, I could react to anything that was not love. These reactions formed part of my daily existence, pulling me off balance more often than not.
My reactions could consume me for a whole day or many days and would continue for as long as I avoided feeling the uncomfortable reaction in my body. When I recovered from one situation, it wasn’t long before another was there to take its place, and so the cycle continued.
There were many vices I would call upon to avoid feeling the uncomfortable and turbulent feeling of ‘hurt’: busyness, excessive exercise, alcohol, drugs, eating particular foods, travel, excessive sleep, television, drama, blame and of course emotions such as anger, frustration, intolerance, despair and sadness.
The hurt seemed to stay stagnant in my body and could resurface whenever I thought about a particular person or event that may have upset me in the past. Was there any true moving on or healing from these hurts?
Recently, however, with a touch of courage, and when enough was enough, I challenged myself to explore the topic of ‘hurt’ and over the weeks that followed I discovered that there was much to understand.
A Turning Point
To personally describe what ‘hurt’ feels like in my body, I would say that it feels like a ping pong ball bouncing around with no place to rest. It feels uncomfortable, like it doesn’t belong there, which is probably because it doesn’t belong there.
Most of the time I would react to ‘hurt’ in a way where I could not feel the truth, or what was really going on in a situation. Instead I became lost in what I describe as the facts of the matter. I would hang on to the words: “he said ______ to me” or “she did _____ to me”. Whilst factually it may be true, recently I came to realise that there was more going on here than these facts alone, I just needed to be more honest.
There was a particular day where I felt a sting from an email that was sent to me by someone who was upset about a matter that I felt was quite trivial. Whether this was the case or not, this attitude didn’t stop the emotional reaction bouncing around in my body in the hours that followed.
I chose to ignore its disturbing nature claiming I was too busy to go into the silliness of this email. I was determined I was not going to buy into this drama, indignant that this situation was not going to ruin my day which had started just fine.
I chose to ignore the situation, but it was too late, the reaction was already in my body.
Many hours passed and the uncomfortable feeling continued. As the day unfolded I noticed my frustration levels escalating and my tolerance for others reducing. I no longer felt like myself and my thoughts were dismissive and without understanding.
I began to question what happened at that very moment when I read the email. What did I take on board, what did I allow to play out, what was this really about, because it had affected me greatly?
I saw how this one email of about twelve words caused such an over-reaction that it changed what could have been a potentially amazing day into one that did not feel amazing at all. I realized how such a simple thing could send me on this ridiculous tangent.
I then made a choice and that choice was to stop.
I stopped pushing through the day, stopped fighting the reaction, allowing myself to feel fragile, with no condemnation for myself or another, just fragility. At first this was not easy, because to me ‘fragility’ was to be seen as being soft or weak and I did not want to be these things, for I wanted to be strong.
Nevertheless, I made the choice to focus on nurturing myself deeply, and nothing else. For the rest of the evening I nurtured my body, wrapping myself warmly in a blanket with a heat pack, simply acknowledging the feeling as I lay all snuggled up in bed. I didn’t try to work anything out in my head, because I knew that this would be futile as my thoughts were racy and irrational.
The next morning I woke early with the realisation that I was needing others to respond to me in a particular way. I wanted to be treated with love, appreciation, respect, delicateness and to be confirmed that I was an awesome person, instead of knowing this and holding onto this in absoluteness for myself.
Not long after this newfound awareness, I noticed how my body released from the tension and became content again. I realised that when I react in an emotional way, my body becomes uncontrollably shaky, like it has lost its anchor. And indeed it has lost its anchor because it has lost its connection to the part of me which is tender, loving and still.
By allowing myself to feel more deeply into the situation I was able to find the hidden truth, a truth that did not condemn or focus on another or make them less, a truth that had no blame and only understanding. It was no longer about focussing on another and their words and behaviour, it was about understanding why I was reacting and what I was reacting to.
What became clear was how futile it has been to try to fight, dull down, numb or run from the uncomfortable nature of the reactions we have in our daily lives. By not honouring the hurt that we feel, we can keep ourselves trapped in a time warp, because we don’t really move on until it heals from our body.
I no longer see being fragile as something shameful, because I have experienced just how powerful it can be. Now that I have learned that fragility is the bridge to clarity, it makes me willing and committed to care for myself with absolute tenderness when I feel hurt in a situation. Fragility certainly has a big role to play and is something I can now embrace in full.
By Maree Savins, Project Support Officer, Tertiary Education