When someone hurts us, whether intentionally or not, we can go through a variety of emotions and responses.
We feel sad, and maybe we feel some anger, a sense of betrayal, of confusion, of loss. It can be easy to try to make sense of things in our minds, to deal with the way we’ve been treated, by putting the other person in a ‘box’ in the way we think of them.
Someone has hurt us and acted in a way that doesn’t seem right to us, and so we ‘deal’ with it by telling ourselves they are selfish, unkind, uncaring.
I’m processing some things just now, and I realise that’s not a mature way of looking at things or thinking about them. The reason we feel hurt is often because we cared a lot. Something mattered to us, it was important, it was valuable. If the person was all of those not so nice things, we probably wouldn’t have allowed them in our lives for so long.
People mess up, they muddle through life, and they hurt people along the way. You’ve hurt people and people have hurt you. And usually we feel the hurt because we care, because someone matters to us.
I think of The LORD Jesus suffering, fully Man feeling every human pain (and at the same time fully God), on the Cross and all the time His Arms outstretched in Love. True Love. In His suffering He was thinking of other people, He was loving people, He was concerned that Mary would not be without a son to look after her, and He was concerned for John, and so He in His anguish told John to take care of Mary. He was thinking of others. He was thinking of them. Of me. And of *you*, dear one.
Our natural fallen broken responses to hurt might be to clam up, to fold our arms around our chests rather than open them wide and expose our pulsating hearts. We have a choice to make. To protect ourselves or to love. It can be a tug of war sometimes, but Love is always greater than the hurt. Love overcomes all.
Jesus chose to Love me completely, He gave His life for me, so however I have been hurt or wronged, I choose to Love. x
I have a friend, and most people think she’s a lovely person. It can be hard to be honest about someone who is nice to most people, most of the time. But sometimes she’s not so nice to me. Generally speaking I have to admit that she’s very kind, caring, compassionate and understanding to the people she meets. She tries to encourage people, to help them and support them whenever she can, and although she is a quieter person, she does have a lot of close and trusted friends.
She’s had some rocky times in the past when people haven’t treated her too kindly, but for the most part she’ll admit that she does get her fair share of compliments. She’s known as intelligent and good at her work, she’s been noted for her kindness, and some people have called her slim, pretty or even beautiful. In some ways she’s pretty ‘ordinary’ and maybe some people overlook her, but she would admit that there are a fair few people who think well of her.
She sounds like a lovely person, doesn’t she? The kind of person I ought to be glad I have in my life.
The thing is, we’re pretty close. And sometimes sadly we’re most unkind to the people who are closest to us.
Sometimes she can be really encouraging to me too, like she is to all of her other friends. But on other days, when she’s maybe feeling a bit insecure about herself she’ll let me know it.
Today, she caught sight of me standing in a queue for lunch. She whispered to me that I looked a bit fat, that I’d put on weight. I tugged at my top and my clothes and tried to look at my reflection but it made me feel bad to see myself after hearing that remark even if nobody else heard what she said.
I had been in a fairly good mood before that, and even had some brief chats with people around me, but at that point I lost confidence and lowered my head as I waited for my lunch to be served. Why was I eating that? It’s true, I haven’t exercised for a few days, or maybe even a week. I worried about whether other people would think I looked fat as well and I wanted to hide, to not be seen, I had felt alright and slim this morning but now I just felt a bit down on myself. I never used to have this problem, I always was the slim one. But now, what were people thinking of me? That I had put on loads of weight, or even a bit? I cringed to think that people might be thinking that way about me.
I don’t know why she chose to focus on my appearance that way when she could have said something nice like she does to everyone else. What’s so different about me? She’s called me ‘ugly’ in the past. And I’ve been left feeling like I was ‘gross’ or horrible. Why would she do that? And why would I go on thinking those negative things about myself? Why would someone who receives compliments from others, someone who is genuinely kind, caring and loving to everyone else be unkind to me? Why do I let her?
I suppose that’s what can happen when you’re close to someone. And the thing is the words may have come from somewhere, may have come from her past and her insecurities because people used to treat her badly, but now that she is seen as lovely, caring, kind and intelligent, why should she be unkind to me, even if it is an ‘off day’, even if those days are fewer and farther between nowadays?
What would you do if you had a ‘friend’ like that? What do you think I should do? I wonder if some of you might be thinking that it’s all well and good for her to be nice to everyone else, and she may be a really nice person, but why single me out? It’s a good question. You’d probably tell me to ‘ditch’ her, to let bad influences out of my life because I deserve better.
But I wonder if you really understand how difficult that can be? To let go of someone so close to you even if they do cause you hurt. Do any of you have a ‘friend’ like this in your life?
I need to give her credit though that she’s growing in self awareness as to how she sometimes talks to me. She has a lot of issues from her past because she was verbally abused – a lot. I’m trying to help her realise that she didn’t deserve it, she was young, no one whatever their age or stage in life, their appearance or any other thing deserves to be verbally abused.
She gets that to a point which is why she’s so kind, caring and loving to everyone else. But there are days when she doesn’t extend that same kindness to me. You think it would be easy just to let her go, to cut her out of my life? Not really, we’ve been in each other’s lives literally forever, it’s easier said than done!
I can’t cut her out, that would be impossible. But I can try to educate her, to help her think about the ‘snap’ judgement words she sometimes uses about me, to help her to reflect on what impact this can have on my confidence, self esteem and worth. It might take time but I think we’ve been making progress. She has been learning to be kinder to me, and maybe she’ll be as kind to me as she is to everyone else someday.
You still think I should cut her out of my life? I can’t. She’s me.
Can anyone else relate to negative self-talk? If so, what do you do to overcome it? Let’s learn to be ‘our own best friends’. x
That’s a tough question. Not because you don’t know the answer, but because the answer may be very painful. I could write reams about this life issue, and about the longstanding effects, but I want to keep this short and write about just a couple of aspects, in the hope of reaching out to someone, somewhere who might be suffering with the effects of bullying, whether past or present.
If you find yourself in the quagmire of victimisation of any kind, particularly if this happened / is happening when you were / are young and haven’t had the years of growth through adulthood to build up any kind of resilience or more positive reference points (although bullying in adulthood can be severely impactful too), the chances are high that aspects of your identity have been bruised, broken, fragmented, belittled, crushed or torn apart in some way. It took me a long time, decades in fact, to begin to unpick the Truth that feeling horrible wasn’t the same as *being* horrible, unworthy, etc. Being victimised, abused in any way, whether that be physically, through cruel or careless words whether written or spoken, mental or psychological distress or whatever way one may be made to feel dehumanized by another person *feels* utterly wretched. Not only are there physical and psychological symptoms as a result of the stress, but also mentally and emotionally it just feels horrible. For a child, it is very difficult if not impossible to navigate being bullied in any objective kind of way. For example, when I was bullied as a child, cruel and horrible words came at me from a variety of different directions, I was physically overpowered and hurt by those physically stronger than me. Like a sponge, I simply absorbed what was being said about me, and because it seemed ‘everyone’ – even people who didn’t know each other – was saying the same cruel things, then it must be true….there must be something terrible about me to warrant me being treated that way….like many children, I interpreted the bullying as being in some way ‘my fault’ because I was deficient, not good enough in some way. The psychological distress and damage children face, even if or when bullying stops, can last decades and unfortunately for many, can eat away at most of one’s adult life, unless they find a way to release and process these thoughts, feelings and emotions, possibly with the help of a trained counsellor or trauma specialist, and begin to reframe their life’s narrative to be able to use their adverse childhood experiences for more positive outcomes. This can be gruelling work…but the human spirit and mind can overcome a great deal, by the Grace that carries us through.
What I really want to say, to anyone going through such horrible experiences, and feelings about yourself, is that that is a completely normal reaction to unacceptable treatment. The bullying makes you *feel* horrible, but please, dear ones, and I say this for myself as well…that DOES NOT MEAN that you deserve to be treated that way.
You are intrinsically valuable, important and special because you are you – because you are human, and are made valuable. There is nothing that can change your intrinsic worth – no feeling, no bad treatment, no judgements from others or negative self perception – NOTHING can ever diminish your worth. The fact that it all feels horrible, you feel horrible, doesn’t mean that you are not beautiful, special, worthy, unique, valued, and ultimately deeply LOVED…you are not here by accident, you are Created and loved, and you will always be valuable no matter what life experience may have told you otherwise.
If you can begin to grasp that, then that may be the point when you begin to recover. Someday you will see that you are LOVED, Created and Loved, in the meantime try to learn that you are worthy, and please never give up. You’re amazing to have made it this far…keep faith in the transformation and healing that LIFE can bring. ❤ xx
There is no doubt that life can be hard, and at times very hard. I know that each and every one of you reading this will have experienced something in life, however relatively big or small, that will have caused you pain. Perhaps the sting of cruel words, or even feelings of loneliness or being ignored, or maybe some devastating life events. I don’t know your story or your heart, but I know we share in our common humanity, and in this world none of us have a purely trouble free existence. Moreover, I care about you, although we haven’t met.
But today, I encourage you to begin to use your broken pieces for something transformative. Build a bridge that can help someone else cross troubled waters and move forwards in their life. Bridges are only built piece by piece, so don’t feel like your offering, your little stone or pebble is too small…it is the start of something…
For me, today, this blog post is one of my little stones to build a bridge that will hopefully help and encourage someone. I am walking my journey of recovery from post traumatic stress, depression and anxiety as I overcome the painful wounds of childhood bullying that almost devastated my little heart, it messed up my mind, and left me feeling like I didn’t want to be alive anymore. But now, reminding myself how far I have come I remember years ago wanting to someday use my painful experiences to reach out and help someone else…even if that was ‘just’ one…for I was just one. It felt impossible though under the crushing weight of heartache, trauma and helplessness, and perhaps this post isn’t a grand gesture…it isn’t the books I wanted to write to help other people, it isn’t me getting up and speaking in front of a crowd which would still overwhelm and panic me, and it isn’t me traveling the world as a motivational speaker or mentoring bullied kids…yet…but today, I hope my little offering towards my bridge will help and encourage you. Think of one of your broken pieces today, just now, and use it for something new. It can be something like reaching out and comforting someone else who is walking the painful road you walked. It could be paying someone a compliment and using words to heal if you are struggling to overcome words that hurt. It could be noticing and paying attention to someone if you felt ignored and neglected. It could be offering food to someone if you know what it is to go hungry….only you know your road and I pray that your heart will heal a little more today as you think of the bridges you can begin to build.
For me, my life is gradually transforming, little at a time…but it’s not just because I am putting my broken pieces to use, it is because I am putting them in the Hands of my Lord Jesus Who was broken for me, and He Is bringing new Life and beauty in place of ashes, gladness and joy in place of mourning….He, The One Who Loves us most, even if we don’t yet believe in or know Him (for once I didn’t), He Is the One Who truly loves, heals and frees us from deep within. Be blessed. With love to brighten your day. xx