Someone very near and dear to Dave and I, someone who has known us for many years, is reading our memoir. Each time I speak with them, the same comment is made, “I don’t know how you put up with it”. During our last conversation they remarked, “Why didn’t you ever say anything?” “How come when you knew about XYZs affair you never said anything?” So, even though this person has known us for our entire marriage they knew nothing of the issues we faced—after all, they were our issues.
It’s not as if I didn’t share with anyone, it’s just that I didn’t share with everyone.
Why wouldn’t I discuss my problems with certain people? Was it because I was trying to hide what went on? Was it because I was trying to protect an image? Was it because I was trying to project a different reality or was it because I knew that there was no wisdom in sharing my heart where there was little hope of empathy and understanding, and I mean this in the nicest possible way.
It’s only natural that people who love and care for us also have the innate desire to protect us. (Admittedly, this is what an unfaithful spouse vowed to do—yet didn’t—for their own reasons).
People who love us don’t want to see us hurting; sometimes though, their attempts to sit with us in our pain often feel more like they’re urging us to take a page from their own action plan.
Perhaps they haven’t learned the skill of empathy yet, some have no idea what it is, and then there are others—thankfully a minority—who are literally incapable of showing it.
In a worse case scenario, with reckless regard to keeping confidence, our pain may even become someone else’s fodder for gossip.
When we experience trauma of any kind—no matter how it manifests and regardless of the scale—we rarely need other people to give us their opinions.
We just need them to “show up”.
We don’t need fixing, we don’t need to be told what they would do if it was them, we don’t need to just get over it, we don’t need judgement and we don’t need comparisons.
We need empathy and we need wisdom. Godly wisdom, not man’s wisdom. So before we broadcast our pain, pray for discernment, not everyone is able to support us in ways that are beneficial to our healing.
Brené Brown says “empathy rarely begins with, at least…”
How do you “show up” for others?
This is a question I must reflect on myself…