Sticks and Stones, Part II

Yesterday I shared words that other people can use, but it’s just as important for butterfly moms to know how to react when someone hurts their feelings.  We can either be constructive and repair those hurt feelings, or we can lash out and create more hurt feelings.  I’ve done plenty of both.  When you feel tremendous pain, physical or emotional, it’s really tempting to hurt someone else.  I guess misery really does love company, maybe because we don’t know how to ask for help and end up acting out like kids do.  Whatever the reason, it solves nothing to drag someone else down with you, and it usually adds guilt to your emotional dogpile.

It’s a fact that someone is going to hurt your feelings; this is true in all of life, and dealing with a miscarriage tends to amplify that factor.  My whole life I have been pretty bad at confronting hurt feelings with any level of maturity.  I’ll let things pile up until I explode and do the stereotypically female historical rendition of every wrong, real or imagined.  No good has ever come from my method.  When I actually act like an adult and have a conversation about what’s bothering me, it’s usually resolved without any crazy emotional outbursts (although, I will cry – that’s a given) or assistance from the History Channel.  When I respond the same way when confronted by someone I’ve wronged, we can both move on with a stronger relationship.  That said, there are good times to just let things roll off and ignore them.

I have a rule that when someone hurts my feelings, I will speak with them about it if it’s a relationship I value.  If it’s someone I do not deal with on a regular basis and do not care to deal with on a regular basis, I just let it go.  For instance, someone I speak to once a month in the hall really won’t care about the situation for more than a few seconds, and confronting them is likely to cause more harm than good.  A friend that I would like to spend more time with is worth the effort it takes to share my feelings, and not talking to them is likely to cause more harm than good.  Anchored by Hope offered this as a possible way to confront the hurtful words: “Thank you very much for your sentiment, but let me tell you that this wasn’t really what I wanted to hear right now. I know what you mean, but it still hurts me more.”  This is a great way to start the conversation, or you can just stop there if you don’t want to or can’t explain more about why it hurt you.

Another rule I made for myself is to sit on the hurtful comment or incident for a short span of time, like a few hours or a few days.  If it still pops back into my head, then I know I need to address it; if I can’t really remember why it upset me, I let it go.  If I let it go for more than a few days, then I have to let it go forever.  It’s kind of like training a puppy: if you don’t address the bad behavior when it happens, then they have no idea why you’re punishing them later for something they don’t remember doing.  However, it’s good to wait a short time to address a problem until you can control your emotions and therefore your tongue.  If you can speak rationally in the heat of the moment, you are to be greatly admired and should begin counseling me immediately.  If you are human, then you should probably cool off before you tell someone they hurt you; you’ll be able to “use your words” and avoid further injury to either party.

Avoid using your loss as a weapon.  It is possible to bludgeon someone with bad news: someone bugs you about working on a project or ribs you about dropping out of Zumba, and you give them enough rope to hang themselves before you inform them that you had a miscarriage and were unable to keep your normal schedule.  I’ve done it, more than once.  It doesn’t matter if the person was being a jerk, I should know better than to take someone down a notch like that.  There are fair ways to take someone down a notch, but a surprise verbal assault is cheating.

Recognize that most of the time, whoever hurt your feelings by saying something insensitive really didn’t intend to hurt your feelings.  If you accept that they meant well, you’ll be able to forgive and forget much more easily than if you go off half-cocked with only the thought that they hurt you.  Also recognize that sometimes, there will be no right thing for anyone to say to you.  Miscarriage is the loss of a loved one with all of the grief that goes with it, and it carries the added weight of hormonal mood swings and actual physical symptoms that are often painful.  Just surviving physically, mentally and emotionally is a feat of strength worthy of honor.

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One thought on “Sticks and Stones, Part II

  1. Anne,

    Thank you for sharing both “sides” of this very difficult situation. Without meaning to, I can see that I might have inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings over the years by saying something that I hadn’t thought through before sharing. I tend to be so open and honest that what I’m thinking often comes right out.

    I would never intentionally hurt anyone, and what you have shared gives me insights that hopefully will help me avoid hurting feelings in the future.

    I agree that letting the person know how you feel is a great way to keep a friendship from falling apart. True friends will understand and want to be aware when they have accidentally hurt a friend.

    Thank you for sharing–and I’m sorry that you have had to deal with such a burden in order to have the capacity to share both sides of a delicate issue–sharing with anyone who has had a loss or received bad news of any kind.

    Your friend,
    Sylvia

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