Love is saying the hard things. Sometimes the hardest things to say are the things that need to be said. Recently while sharing some whiskey with a friend, he made a comment so significant that it stopped me dead in my tracks.
“The problem is T, love is saying the hard things, and you aren’t good at saying the hard things.”
Well, fuck me! The main problem with this was I instantly knew he was right, and that stung a little bit. In my defense, I don’t like hurting people’s feelings. I also do not like confrontation. Put those two together and its a losing combination. Who looses? Everyone!
I could trace back my entire life and see that there were times I should have been saying the hard things and didn’t. I could list a lot of reasons why I didn’t speak up. While they sound like excuses, and perhaps they are, they are also valid reasons I had at the time. The primary reason I avoid saying the hard things is I don’t like to hurt people. I personalize everything that others may feel. Am I an empath? Probably and something I should perhaps research. I’m sure there are sources out there that help empaths handle confrontation and these sorts of things, but that is for another post. Knowing I have been this way my entire life is knowing that the work to fix the issue will be long, hard, and involved. Learning how to say hard things is something I am working on improving.
If it were just one area in my life, my friend’s comment might not have had the impact that it did. He was speaking about relationships specifically, but when the words came out of his mouth, they hit all my senses. I heard them, I felt them, I instantly knew he had hit a nerve. He has also landed on the truth.
Growing up, I had the fairy tale version of what love is. It didn’t take long to realize that Cinderella and Snow White were bullshit, and the white horses carried more frogs than princes. The horses were probably the coolest part of any fairy tale. My parents had a good marriage. Not great but good. When I was growing up, parents didn’t talk about the issues in their marriages. They parented. Everything else was pretty much off-limits. I never saw them fight. Ever. My mother never swore. My father worked three jobs to make sure we could eat. We had family dinners occasionally, but the discussions were about our school, our friends, generic things. Never seeing my folks fight gave me the impression that you just didn’t. They didn’t mean to send that message, but that was the message that was sent.
I followed my mom’s lead and picked my battles. Even in high school, I allowed people to bully me, make fun of me, and openly hurt me. I stood by and took it. It never occurred to me that there would be any other way to handle things. All of my relationships were dealt with the same way. Not only the intimate ones but family and friends relationships as well. As marriages ended, friendships were one-sided, and family members drifted because of the choices I made that they didn’t agree with, I was left wondering what I had done wrong.
I think I didn’t do or say anything, and that was wrong. If love was saying the hard things, and I wasn’t saying those hard things, was I not loving to the people in my life? All that tie, in all situations, I felt like I was doing and saying the right things. I was saying the beautiful things, the sweet things, the caring things, and the comforting things. I was protecting feelings, mediating emotions, and staying in the high light of all of those around me. Even when others said the hard things, the things I didn’t want to hear, I never spoke up. I was quiet, told them they were right; they had a point; I understood their perspective. I never questioned it. I accepted what was coming at me.
My most recent break up with the man that was my friend, lover, and Dom when it suited him always said the hard things. He would call me out on everything. Sometimes caring, sometimes not. Most of the time, just from the perspective that he was always right. I was, admittedly, confused by the D/s part of our relationship. I didn’t think I was allowed to speak up. I accepted what he said, and I took his perspectives without question. I was new to D/s, new to everything. So, when he cut me off without warning over a text message, I accepted that too. I knew he was wrong. I knew the process was ridiculous and cruel. He told me he was done, and I should move on. I accepted that. I stopped texting my pleas for a face to face discussion. I stopped texting. Later I learned he was surprised that I stopped texting. All of his others and pleaded, texted for days asking for another chance, and never gave up trying to get back into his good graces. He told me to stop, and so I did. I listened. I said nothing.
Looking back now, it makes me giggle a little that at the time I was doing as he asked me to do. I was his sub and still in that role. It stunned him that I was so obedient. Perhaps he wanted me to beg and had I done so, and maybe he would have given me another chance. Also, looking back now, I realize it doesn’t matter the why just that I did it, and while it is still painful, it was the best thing I could have done. Looking back now tho, I wish I had spent some time saying the hard things.
If love is saying the hard things, then I should have blasted the fuck out of him. I did love him. I loved him the only way I knew how to love, without condition, without question. I am learning now that wasn’t enough. My first thought is that I would have sworn like a sailor and blasted all the hateful things he had done to me and said to me. All the lies he had me tell and manipulations he asked me to do to get information on his others. Those were the times I should have said the hard things.
I am learning. I am moving forward with a different perspective. It feels uncomfortable. It feels like I am wearing someone else skin and using someone else’s mouth when words come out that I know will land harsh and with a sting. It isn’t easy. It fills me with anxiety. My new relationship has been a year of not saying the hard things. I was not pointing out the things that are painful for me and saying how I feel and what I need. Recently, I have started slowly and gently putting my true feelings into words and letting them leave my mouth to land gently, hopefully, but with purpose. He has been receptive, understanding, a little hurt, and frustrated, but he gets it. At least I think he does, and he says he does.
He didn’t run away. He didn’t say hateful things and call me ungrateful. He listened. I’m not sure he knows the depth of difficulty this process is for me. I don’t think he has thought that much about it. His past relationship was full of fights and yelling and saying hateful things. Not saying the hard things out of love but just saying hateful things. So it is likely that he has no idea the work it has taken me to get to this point.
Having said some of the hard things, out of love for him, hasn’t gotten us any closer to where we want to be. I feel better about the start of it. I feel stronger and more in control. In control of myself, my relationship, my role in this journey with him. Love is saying the hard things. I am learning how to answer those hard things with strength and compassion and to support and protect myself. It feels scary. It feels awkward. In some small ways, it feels right. I hope it feels more right moving forward.