I am currently going through a tough situation with a close family member of mine in which we are attempting to redo our relationship. Through the conversation we had regarding this I realized something. I assumed that he knew many of my feelings even though I never voiced them. He explained how he didn’t even know we had any problems and I have been dealing with them for the past 12 years!
I had an epiphany. In so many relationships we assume that the other person knows how their actions or words made us feel without telling them. Yes, sometimes people know their actions were hurtful and will apologize without you saying anything. However, if their convictions don’t tell them they will continue to go on as if nothing ever happened, which means they will continue to hurt you until you say something. At some point you have to take responsibility for the hurt because of your silence.
Imagine someone coming into a room while you are sitting down. They start up a conversation with the person next to you while simultaneously stepping on your toe. What would you do? You would either attempt to move your foot, say ‘Excuse me, you are stepping on my toe’ or maybe you would let out an uncivilized ‘OUCH!’ You will communicate in some way to that person that their action of standing there is causing you pain and suggest that they move to a spot that is toe-free.
It seems simple and even silly to not tell someone that they are stepping on your toe but when we zoom in to issues of the heart it feels more complex. We question if the person will be receptive or not and we even question if our confrontation will change the view a person has of us. A person may not understand your hurts but you don’t need agreement from them to solidify your feelings.
I have a big toe that is damaged so it is extremely sensitive. If someone stepped on this toe it would cause immediate and intense pain. When I first felt this pain I almost pushed my nephew, who was standing on it, so hard that he almost sailed across the room, and I let out an uncivilized ‘OUCH!!’ The people in the room looked at me like I was crazy for how I reacted. I may have looked crazy but the pain I had was real and even if they didn’t understand it, I felt it.
Withholding information from a person on how they hurt you will be more painful to you and them in the long run if you continue to avoid it. You are doing a disservice to them because you are acting out of knowledge and allowing them to act out of ignorance. Yet you are judging them from your knowledge base. Being honest will not always be easy nor will it always yield a person being truly sorry and avoiding hurting you. However, that is not for you to figure out or fix, it is up to that person. Nor is it not up to you to just ‘guard your toes’ around that person because you will set up self-protecting boundaries that are not pleasing to God. Be careful in your dealings with matters of the heart, but be sure that you are dealing with matters of the heart.
Don’t assume a person knows your feelings are hurt if you have never told them.