I have spent the better part of my life watching people use their pain to justify causing pain to others and it was something I have always understood.
I understand wanting someone to understand you and being able to empathize, and I understand why people think that it is necessary to make them feel that same pain that they have felt. They do not want to be alone. No one wants to feel as though they are alone in what they are feeling. I used to feel that same way, but I have grown since that time in my life. With that being said, today, I would never wish my pain upon anyone else because pain is relative. What one person can take could be way past another person's breaking point. I would never want anyone to feel as lost, alone, and scared as I have felt in the past. Rather than using that pain to hurt others, I think it is better to take that pain and mold it into something worth the pain. The potential that you could help someone through their experiences through yours makes the pain you've endured before, so much more worth it than hurting others.
Empathy is a powerful thing. Being able to place yourself in someone else's shoes because of what you've been through can mean the world to someone else. I remember sitting back and never saying anything or opening up to anyone else because I did not want them to see me differently. I did not want them to be close enough to me to hurt me. My heart was a fragile organ and I would do everything in my power to protect it. Then I realized that it is not about me. I have definitely gone through a number of phases to get to where I am today in response to wanting to protect my heart.
The first phase was hurting others.
For a long time, I was hurt, angry, and confused. I pushed everyone away no matter how badly it hurt them. When you live like this, you do not care about the people around you. The only thing you think about is yourself. It is a very selfish way to live. You live to bring pain to others in hopes of never being alone in what you have gone through. This is often times known as the domino effect. Someone hurt you, so you go and hurt others, whether that be random people, family, or people extremely close to you. You hurt others before they have the chance to hurt you. You hurt others because you are hurting, but rather than dealing with that hurt, you project it onto someone else. It's a defense mechanism and a very destructive one at that. Once you realize that hurting others does nothing but redistribute the pain leaving you even more empty you enter the second phase.
The second phase is pretending you don't have a heart altogether.
This phase includes completely numbing yourself to emotions and putting up a thick wall with too many layers to get through. You ignore the feelings, ignore the pain. This was the method I clung to for an extremely long time. This, to me, was the easiest. Don't get close to anybody and don't let anyone get close to you. The easiest way to protect your heart is to have no one close enough to break it. I put up so many walls around my heart that it seemed as though I had no heart at all. I was cold. Numb. I never allowed myself to care completely for anything because I knew in a moment how quickly it could be taken away. I did not really feel angry anymore, I just felt empty. With all that being said, it doesn't work. It might work for a while, but the hurt is still there. It doesn't go away, you just push it further and further down until one day you just explode. It is impossible to hide everything for long extended periods of time, you can try but it will backfire. With that in mind, I would suggest moving into the next phase.
The third phase is living for others and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, authentic, and real.
This phase was the hardest for me to reach. I didn't realize that being for other people did not mean that you had to compromise yourself, but it does mean that you are opening yourself up. I realized that protecting my heart actually meant allowing the right people to get a hold of it, not to break it, but to repair it. You be careful, but at the same time, you give 100 percent to each relationship because there comes a time when always putting yourself second actually causes healing. I would prefer to work my butt off trying to make everyone around me happy, then to even think about making feel the way I did. I'd rather care too much than not care at all because everyone deserves someone who never gives up on them and you never know what another person is going through so just that smile can be the very thing that makes their day. I would rather learn from my experiences and use them to help other than allow my pain to destroy me and those around me. You can not heal something that you pretend doesn't exist. Rip off the band-aid. Feel the pain. Don't let it destroy you, let it grow you into a more empathetic, motivated, determine, passionate, and compassionate person.