If you’re a regular reader of mine, or if you’re here for the first time, I want to explain why I say this quite often:
Ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, though I will warn you, you might not like the answers you find. And sooner or later you will have to deal with them.
I usually say this when I’m talking about bad human behavior, like people who are cruel, hateful, or insensitive, people who rationalize alienation and ostracization when that’s not needed but simply because they can. I came up with this saying ‘Ask yourself why…’ to stop myself from ranting and raving and saying things I would regret. Because nothing is accomplished from ranting at someone and calling them names and such, even in the heat of anger. I know it sure as hell didn’t work on me other than making me feel like shit about myself when I didn’t do anything wrong.
But I also tell myself ‘ask yourself why…’ a lot, too. In fact, it started with me asking myself why I thought and felt the way I did. I started doing that in order to learn why I thought and felt the way I did in order to learn how to make better decisions in the future. Yes, it’s turned me upside-down and inside-out, but it was worth it. It helps me rein in anger and rage and also control pain and responses that don’t work well.
Most of all, it reminds me and anyone else reading my words that I can’t change anyone’s mind or way of thinking and feeling. Or as I also say, I can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. Yet this also brings me to a thought I’ve been dancing around for some time, one that’s still a bit hard to deal with: I’m not responsible for someone’s reaction to me telling them my experience of a certain time was different from theirs and not a good one at that. That’s not harsh or mean because I am working my ass off not to engage in blaming other people for making me feel bad when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’m working my ass off to understand why I reacted and still react the way I do to things that have been said, or are said now. This is why I tell myself the ‘ask yourself why…’ bit almost on a daily basis.
Another thought that comes into my mind every so often is this: maybe it would have been easier to stay silent, to stay the way I was: agreeable, appeasing, willing to try and ease and just bury my own feelings. But I can’t go back to that, and I don’t want to because being silent and appeasing did not stop people from projecting their own negative feelings onto me or lashing out at me. And this is because I have come to realize and accept I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings past a certain point. I’m responsible for my words and actions, and I’m responsible for taking responsibility for my mistakes and doing everything I can to repair the damage and learn from them. Most of all, I have learned that when I put words onto emotions and give voice to my thoughts then I can work through those thoughts and feelings and heal.
At this point, I’m sure there may be a reader here who wants to ask me: what if someone told me they had a different experience of a time we both lived through and their experience wasn’t a good one? I would say to that person I understand and accept their experience was different from mine and would offer a space for them to talk about it. This is in turn leads to another question I have been wrestling with for quite some time: would I be willing to listen to someone tell me why they lashed out at me and said cruel and hurtful things to me, or tried to alienate me from others and ostracize me for things that weren’t wrong?
When I first heard that question in my mind my answer was no because I didn’t feel like any explanation would change what I went through and have worked through since. But now I understand it would give me insight into why I reacted the way I did and also show me where I made mistakes back then. But I would only listen if someone didn’t speak in the way they did back then, with malice and hatred, or if they tried to gaslight me into questioning or denying the truth of my experience and feelings. Or as I like to put it, if someone has done the work and wants to talk about that then I would listen if given the opportunity. Because I do believe I do believe I have a right to say that something is hurtful or cruel and without truth and to stand on that.
I felt like simply saying out loud my experience was different and not good was a huge break in my silence. Even though I didn’t elaborate on it any further, I didn’t walk it back either. And now I realize I’m ready to talk about it and listen to others talk about their experiences.
In the time of the twelfth Doctor on the television show, ‘Doctor Who’, there was a line that was said many times: “Silence will fall when the question is answered.” (written by Stephen Moffat).
For me, I would say silence is broken when many questions are answered.