I've wanted to write an article like this for a while but it has always felt a little too personal. I've been told that I'm not super forward with people when it comes to the way I feel. For example, if a friend has hurt my feelings I will say just about anything that hints that they've done that, but I don't usually say it outright. This could be due to my fear of confrontation or my other fear that I will have hurt my friend and they won't forgive me. So, I suppose this is my way of saying a lot of what I have wanted to say but haven't.
Lately, I've been feeling guilty about my emotions. Guilt can sometimes occur when you compare your circumstances to others, which I've been doing a lot lately. Over the past couple of years, I have invested so much of my time in friendships/relationships that have been really complicated, to say the least. I have felt used, betrayed, taken advantage of, confused, and simply just hurt.
Often when I have tried to be forward and have said, this is what you did and this is how I feel, I have been met with resistance which includes but is not limited to: "I would never take advantage of you.", "I knew what I was doing, but it wasn't with malicious intent", or "I'm basing my decisions solely on my own experience". Do these sound like cop-outs to you? They sure do to me. See these statements discredit the way I felt. They are saying, I'm sorry that YOU feel that way, but I didn't do that, I didn't mean it, and/or I don't care. When people do this they are reframing the situation so they feel better about themselves. It puts all of the blame on you for misinterpreting their actions.
YOU DON'T GET TO DO THIS.
Take some responsibility for the fact that the way that you have behaved has made another person feel bad. When you make someone else feel like they are not entitled to their emotions, specifically ones that you may have caused to some degree, it is incredibly detrimental and falls under the category of mental and emotional abuse. I speak from experience when I say that when I was made to feel like this it made me feel crazy. I didn't know if what I was feeling was "allowed" or "real".
If you use words like "abuse" or "assault" the person who has hurt you may try to downplay how you're feeling. It makes them feel like the bad guy because they did something that falls outside of their moral compass. I am a big believer that actions don't always equal a type of person. If someone sees that what they did was wrong, takes ownership of it, and apologizes for it in such a way, then I don't think they're a bad person. I think that's why people won't take responsibility for their wrongdoings, because they will feel like a bad person. Just because you did a bad thing, doesn't make you a bad person.
What makes you a bad person is doing any of the poor behavior above and then repeating it. I give out a lot of chances, but at a certain point, I had to be able to say enough is enough.