A couple of weekends ago, David said to me, “You are made of granite.” I had several situations that caused a trigger attack upon my senses, emotions and then, ultimately physically. I am not going to go into what happened, it really does not matter and it would take too long to detail all of the triggers and incidents that set me off.
When I go through that, I feel weak.
I feel as though, I should be able to control my emotions and how other people’s words or actions affect me. I feel as though, I should be strong enough to ignore or brush off those things, but I am not. I begin to attack myself and blame myself for things that are not my fault. These are common things for those who have been victimized. (Insert a good read Why do trauma survivors blame themselves?) However, I find myself sick and upset at myself whenever I am hurting again, because of what others have said or done to me.
I immediately comb over my words and try to figure out what I did wrong.
Though I still do this, I stop the dysfunction much quicker and remind myself that I am not responsible for managing people’s emotions or actions. When David said those words, I was not only surprised; I did not know how to respond. I have always perceived David as thinking that I am weak, less than, not capable. He has not expressed otherwise and he tends to give compliments, but then gives what feels to me negative feedback right after it, which negates everything that he said in my mind. It feels like constant criticism, but to him he feels that he is helping.
I did tell him that he did that the last time he gave me positive feedback.
I have been communicating with him when his words trigger me. I have shared that at times they can feel negative and cutting. In learning to communicate better, I have embraced the words “I feel.” It helps to know that his words are coming from a perspective of helping not criticizing or questioning my actions. In communication it is not always the other person, it is about how we interpret or filter through our experiences. Experiences can make words become filtered through faulty perspectives it is like looking at fun house mirrors.
They can become distorted and lose the actual meaning.
Or the other person is expressing themselves through that distortion and it comes across attacking. He has tried to work on not adding helpful criticisms, but just letting it be. I have tried to work on my form of communication as well. We both miss the mark. We have very different ways of communicating that is influenced by our upbringing, personalities, and the way our minds think differently, how our environment affects us, all sorts of things. We both have negative coping mechanisms from dealing with family dysfunctions this definitely contributes to miscommunication.
Now both of us are trying to work on this – there was a season when I was taking all the blame for our communication problems. (Long story, moving on.)
My communication has been fused with the affects of abuse, being bullied, and feeling like I had no voice, and the fact that I am not a “talker.” I do not talk out my thoughts, I write them. David talks, he talks a lot that is how he processes. He gets stimulated, excited, and resolved through his process of throwing out tons of ideas and thoughts. My literal mind can think that he is explaining how he really sees things or how he feels when all he is doing is processing aloud. I find this confusing. He asks tons of rhetorical questions and then, leaves them hanging. It can spin my brain into thinking I am supposed to find the answers.
However, I can do the same thing to him.
I can ask social questions, such as “Why does she always do that to me?” I am not looking for an answer, but many times, he has taken it as me wanting to “figure” the person out. He will go into a deep psychological break down of the person which, feels to me as if he is speaking of them negatively. In turn, it causes me to go down a spiraling path of pulling up every incident and social situation I have had with the person.
It makes me hurt because I do not like people speaking negatively about others.
It has caused me to shutdown much of my communication over the years because I did not feel heard and I did not want him to think or say negative things. Again that has been my perception, no one can actually know what David means unless they are talking to him themselves. My recent questioning of his comments has made things more clear for him, he is being direct and a matter-of-fact. When I think about it I do the same thing in other situations.Communication is so complicated!
Talking overloads me and causes me to shutdown or meltdown.
I have gotten better in my ability to express what I am feeling. Because of that, he is starting to understand that I cannot handle the “talking through” type of processing. Many times, I just need to be left alone. It is not exactly fair to him though because his means of communication is to talk. I do my best to allow him to do his processing, I listen, give my perspectives and insights, but I also work at reminding myself that many times he is just getting his thoughts out and nothing more.
The problem with that is words affect me too much.
My mind cannot just “Let it go” when someone splatters all sorts of various ideas, thoughts, and rhetorical questions. It takes in all the communication and processes, connects, pulls up old and new data, it has to find a home in my brain otherwise, it will stir all sorts of questions, loop, and begin to seek answers to things that I really do not care about. My mind cannot let unresolved thoughts go very well. I have found that exercising has actually helped with this my mind seems to be able to move information faster and be ok with some unresolvables.
The way that this has been handled lately, is that I tell him “I cannot do this today.” or “I just cannot process all of that right now.”
I used to feel that I had to sit and listen.Then, there were times that I felt so frustrated and angry because he was doing it when Daniel had rough days, I had a million things to do, I was on my way out the door, the kids had zapped all of my energy from the day (MONTH, YEAR) etc … I would say things out of frustration and exhaustion. I would think to myself, “How can he be so inconsiderate and not understand that I just can’t?” Since, I have been able to explain these things it has gotten better for the both of us. In my next post, I explain a bit more about why the words that he shared made such an impact on me.
I also, share how communication or lack there of can cause me anxiety, self-doubt, and /or confusion.
Continued … “You Are Made Of Granite” II