It's Not About You: Unmasking the Past
Change inflicted by pain takes many forms.
You say a word,
And I hear it in a different tongue,
An unintentionally harmful joke,
I once felt it wrapped around my neck like a noose.
You breathe in frustration around me,
And I remember another’s breath before the violence.
But it’s only your reaction to a hard day.
You see an attractive girl and it means nothing.
I see the times I was cheated on.
You tell a white lie to prevent a fight,
Because you’d rather us be happy
And I get that.
But my fighting isn’t in the action, it’s the lie,
Because lies are all I’ve ever known.
You call it plans changing,
Life happens, I understand.
But I feel the broken promises of the past.
The unwanted feeling I’m so used to.
I see your aggression and it’s not even about me.
And my hands shake
Because someone else’s hands weren’t so kind.
You see an overreaction,
I see the side effects of an unhealed mind.
You see the world differently than I do,
because my past was different than yours.
My pain is different than yours.
I try to hide it but I know it shows
and I’m sorry.
You weren’t what hurt me.
I’m still figuring out
how to live like I was never hurt
and even on the off days,
you make it so much more bearable.
. . .
We all have an inner darkness. No matter how much light we let in, it seems to always miss the crevices where it’s needed most. Pain changes us in different ways. We all can relate to pain but we cannot assume what someone else is feeling or why they react to certain sounds, words, situations, or people the way they do. Even a name can send someone into a crippling spiral of thoughts and when we see our loved ones' reactions, we take it personally. We take offense while they struggle. We fail to comprehend rather than judge. It’s not about you. It’s not even about them. It’s about the fear of going through the very things they’re trying to heal from again.
Imagine your deepest fear. Have you slain that demon? If so, I'm proud of you. Some of us are still trying to remember where we put the seraph blade.
It's a battle, and it's one that can't be fought for them. It's something they have to fight alone, but you're not helpless. There are ways you can make it easier for them.
They don't want to feel these things any more than you want them to. All the times you wish they'd stop, they've already told themselves to stop a million times over in their head. They're doing all they can to take control. Trust me, they're more frustrated than you are and showing them impatience is only going to make them feel worse. Patience is key.
Their laugh, their smile, the joy they find when they're with you... it's all genuine. So how is it this beautiful soul who can scare away the storm in your life and transform it into something resembling sunshine could be happy one moment and with the slightest trigger, the laugh is silenced, the smile is gone, the joy leaves their eyes? What are you doing wrong? Nothing. It's not your fault. It's important to accept that, and even more important to realize they know it, too. Not only are they fighting within themselves to escape these thoughts, they're fighting harder to make sure you don't feel them.
Words of empowerment instead of negative commentary. Keeping commitments and promises to the best of your ability instead of last minute changes. Genuinely listening when they finally attempt to shine a light on what they're thinking and feeling, and being ready to comfort them with the truth. Reassure them that they matter, that you prioritize them, and that your love is sincere.
In love, there is compassion and understanding. So be compassionate. Try to understand as best you can where your partner is coming from and reassure them they are safe now, they are strong enough to overcome this, they can let it go. You might see their experiences as a set back in your relationship, but no relationship is without fault. Couples argue over money, over time. The list goes on. To walk away because one aspect of the relationship isn’t ideal is to sign yourself up for something else that is also unideal. If you only want to take the good with good, and leave your lover locked outside alone in the storm when the bad comes around, is it really love at all? Choose compassion. Choose understanding. Choose love.