A couple years ago, someone I love woke up in the morning and wasn’t feeling great.
I didn’t sense this feeling. I rather, woke up feeling incredibly excited to be next to them and started giving them hugs and kisses.
This person, as we all do sometimes, didn’t feel they could say that they were feeling odd and so went with it for a little bit then stopped. They got up and said they weren’t feeling all that great and that they would go downstairs, have breakfast and do some work.
At this point, I could feel something was off. I could feel that there was something not being said but how I would approach it, I had no clue.
Moments passed and then they came up and said they were going to go home. I wasn’t going to stand in their way. If they weren’t feeling great and their energy was off, if they didn’t want to be in my space, then of course - homeward bound they should be.
The hours after that awkward morning haunt me to this day.
All of a sudden, my “spidey senses” were set off.
Questions started swirling in my head. Was it something I did? When could it have happened? Did I say something last night? Did I hurt them in any way?
I freaked out. So I did the thing I know how to do. Communicate.
Problem is, when someone isn’t ready to communicate and you’re pushing for it, you could end up pushing them far away and hella fast.
I asked what was wrong. It wasn’t disclosed. I asked why they wouldn’t tell me, why they didn’t tell me so I could make it right, why I was being left alone to sit in this uncertainty when we could have spoken together and maybe worked it out. Nothing.
Eventually my pestering (and I say pestering intentionally because sometimes you just do have to sit in uncertainty - a lesson I have now learned) saw us meet up for a walk.
It was revealed on this walk that I had made them feel under pressure to ‘perform’ that morning. Which made them feel unsafe and reminded them of a situation in which they were taken advantage of / coerced by someone. This is where it all goes to shit.
I panicked. Hearing those words - that sentiment being expressed after hours of also having just sat alone with anxiety about everything that could have been the case - was heartbreaking and terrifying. Heartbreaking because I genuinely felt that all I ever exhibited was love and while I understand that the smallest moment can trigger someone, I never thought this would be a trigger that I could hit. Terrifying all the more because as a black person (who at that time identified as cis-male), hearing that this is the effect that I had on someone, called all of my other interactions into play. It made me scared that there may be other people out there whispering that this is what I was like. It made me scared that I could have actually made someone feel that way. Made someone feel that because of a motivation that I had, I would overpower and force them into a situation. It made me feel sick and since then, has gone on to affect the ways in which I do or do not interact today.
In my state of panic and bewilderment, my speech became less objective and level and more emotional and heightened, which was then described as aggressive. I was unable to wrap my head around what had been said to me and thus was unable to really hear everything else that was said afterwards. Needless to say the talk didn’t go well.
A few days passed and we met again. Bear in mind this was our first big misunderstanding. We met at a little green, sat down and spoke. I apologised for my reaction but also tried to shed some light on the actual terror that went through my body at hearing what was said. At ultimately being told that something I did that morning made them feel like I might force them into something. I wasn’t heard.
Instead I was told that my reaction to what was said was unacceptable. I was told that upon speaking to their friends, it was decided that we shouldn’t be together. I was being left for something I didn’t understand; for triggering a feeling that was left by someone else; for being so desperate to understand and fix it I pushed too hard for answers; for being scared of and by the words used that my reaction was heightened, emotional and not my usual calm self. I was being left for a mistake that I didn’t even know I’d made and was never even given the benefit of the doubt for. It was decided.
As I sit here this morning and write this, I’m not angry. I bear no anger towards this person whatsoever. I understand that being triggered can be such a raw feeling that the expression of it is equally as raw. I understand that some people don’t instantly say how they feel and thus it’s important to give space and time. I understand that some people also won’t understand or take into account that while their feelings are totally valid, the expression of them can equally or more wildly trigger the person on the receiving end.
To those reading this, I ask that when you are expressing yourself and your hurt to someone that you love, please bear that love in mind. Your feelings are valid so please don’t put them aside - just consider the amount of damage you may or may not want to inflict upon the person receiving your truth. Bear in mind your different backgrounds and the connotations of your words. Bear in mind the energy you pour into your words. Don’t say things out of anger. Those words cut deep and when things are spoken out of anger they are also more to get a response than to accurately express how you feel - ultimately destroying aspects of the person on the receiving end’s personality or confidence.
I’m here still trying to heal the wounds and allay the fears that those words and their subsequent leaving left me with.
I wish you all a gentle day.
I know I’ll need one for sure.