When we are hurt by another person’s actions or words, a small bit of relief can come from knowing that we were completely blameless, and that our anger, hurt and resentment are justified. And sometimes, that’s all it was. We were mistakenly caught in the crossfire of another person’s own pain and self-destruction, and it truly had nothing to do with us. But sometimes, these painful interactions are part of a larger pattern of which we are the common factor.
This is not to say that we deserve to be hurt or that we bring such suffering on ourselves because we just can’t learn from our past mistakes. Oh no. Not at all. Not never. No one deserves to be humiliated, belittled or hurt in any way by another person. But it does happen. We do get hurt. And it sucks. But what can make it suck slightly less is recognizing and acknowledging how this pain may be serving us.
For years, I was continually hurt and disappointed by a close family member’s actions. When I would share my experiences with others, I would get sympathy and even accolades for being so strong as to have lived through this other person’s recklessness and callousness. Now, looking back, I can see that I reveled in these responses. I was sane and thoughtful, juxtaposed perfectly against the crazy and selfishness of this person’s actions.
And I kept doing it. In one way or another, I would construct scenarios that were outwardly reasonable on my part, but deep inside, I knew that this person could never meet my expectations. And I’m not sure I really wanted them to.
Instead of looking where to hang the crown of blame, we can instead look for what these repeating patterns give us. In my case, it was sympathy, praise and if I'm completely honest, an excuse. Once we can see these gifts, we can start to reassess their value to us. There might even come a point when they no longer serve us and can be let go. This can make space for healing and offering ourselves the acceptance and love we truly desire.