I learn a lot from Facebook.
I mean, not from Facebook itself, but from the awesome folks I meet there.
Recently, a sweet friend tagged me in a post featuring 17 slides.
Each slide addressed an area of life where people commonly struggle.
I scrolled through, and the slide that first caught my eye said this:
Anger is a natural defense against pain. So when someone says “I hate you” it really means “you hurt me.”
This statement hit home like, well, (insert compelling sports metaphor featuring fastball + pro athlete here).
And (just for clarification’s sake) I don’t mean to imply on any level that “I hate you” doesn’t also mean “I hate you.”
But under that feeling of anger, rage or hate, more and more these days I am personally finding pain. Hurt. OUCH.
To further complicate matters, I’m learning that sometimes, when I say “I hate you” to someone else, I really am talking to myself.
Sometimes I am talking to both of us.
Sometimes I am addressing the circumstances rather than any particular person, or I’m stomping my inner 2-year-old’s frustrated little foot, because, after all, life isn’t fair!
Saying (or shouting, or even thinking) “I hate you” is sometimes the fastest, easiest, and most effective means of getting the e-motion OUT.
So the hate-feeling often comes first. But then the pain hits. Then the grief process begins to unfold, with its denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and (if I’m lucky) whatever I needed to learn that can lead to an eventual acceptance and the ability to move along.
Why is this realization so impactful for me?
I would have to say it is because I used to hear myself thinking or speaking the words “I hate you” and I would immediately stop whatever I was feeling/thinking/doing to jump on myself with judgment and condemnation.
I mean, what kind of person even says that? What kind of awful person even thinks that?
Hate is so terrifying. It is so toxic. It is deeply unfair.
It presumes I know much more than I will ever know about that other person’s thoughts, life, and the reasons behind his or her actions or words.
But now I can resist the temptation to instantly turn around and school myself when hate and I cross paths. Instead, I have learned to simply draw back and witness the part of me that needs to let those three little words out before anything more productive can begin.
She (me) doesn’t mean it for forever. She may not even truly mean it for this moment.
But she needs to say it, because saying it means taking that first critical step towards healing the hurt beneath. Saying it wakes her up to the pain.
Saying it validates her feelings and clearly defines her being-ness, her strength, her need and her weakness.
As a second point of clarification, I have also taught myself not to say “I hate you” out loud…..at least not at first. In fact, I can’t actually remember the last time I said “I hate you” out loud, unless it was all the times I’ve been alone in the car yelling it at the driver in front of/beside/behind me who did something so stupid that the hate (okay, fear) felt justified in that instant.
But that other driver didn’t hear me yell “I hate you.” And shouting it alone in the car got my rage and fear out and quickly returned me to focusing on the road (and navigating my own vehicle to get as far away as fast as possible from people who clearly shouldn’t own vehicles, let alone drive them).
I guess my point here is that mostly, I just deeply appreciate that somewhere, out in the wide world of Facebook and the internet, someone else was willing to admit to having said, “I hate you” and I can use that person’s experience to help me understand some reasons why this emotion arises in me and how I can productively heal it.
In this way, I can even see my way clear to perceiving hate as a unique mentor who only shows up in my life when there is much-needed healing to be done.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever judged yourself harshly for feeling – or speaking – hate? Do you have a sense of why you personally might experience feelings you label as “hate,” and other emotions that might be wrapped up in that feeling? What helps you move through the hate-feeling and move forward again?