The other night it was suggested to me that I might be guilty of “stealing” someone’s pain. In other words, taking it upon myself to keep others from feeling bad about themselves, even if they have done something to hurt me. It was suggested that the pain someone feels for “doing you wrong” is something they need to feel, in order to learn and grow from it, and my rather protective and forgiving nature was not helping people to make real and lasting change who have repeatedly done things that have hurt me.
Boy, did that make me stop and think. A whole bunch. Because, yeah, I’m guilty as charged. I have done that. I have repeatedly put myself in a dangerous place emotionally by trying to keep others from feeling bad about themselves. To even keep people who are collateral damage to the original hurtful behavior from feeling bad.
I’ve forgiven the same bad behavior over and over in my life. That’s a good thing, to forgive. But the point of forgiving is to let go, and move on. Not to forgive it, and allow it to be repeated, at least, not on yourself. Why did I do that?
Maybe because I hadn’t really learned the lesson all the way to my core? Maybe because I felt empowered by making someone feel ok about whatever they did that caused me pain? Maybe because I misunderstood the lesson I was supposed to learn from it? Maybe because I thought the perpetrator might be grateful for my forgiveness and see how much I cared for them? Maybe for the false relief that that situation was over, even as I set myself up for it again? Maybe because I thought I wanted something terribly that was bad for me. Honestly, it will take more than this blog for me to figure out the answer to that question.
But yeah, whatever the reason, I was stealing their pain. Someone told me that when he would see addicts going through detox, begging for money, he’d give them $20 because he felt so sorry for them for the pain they were in. That’s when he realized he was stealing the addicts pain. Pain that they needed to go through to break their addiction. I was stealing the pain someone needed to feel to make a real and permanent change in their behavior, pain they needed to feel to stop causing pain to others. Just enabling them to do the wrong thing over and over.
I won’t do it again. Or, I’ll try not to, for sure. I will, from now on, try to see and understand my motive, if I find myself about to do it again. It’s almost like it’s been my own little addiction, to be able to feel good about myself, to allow myself to forgive something that was utterly painful to me, and then to allow myself to go through it again.
It doesn’t alter unconditional love. But it does set up a boundary that allows me to stay safe and happy in my own life.
It was a hell of an epiphany. Love learning a new lesson. Love people who can lovingly get me to look at myself from a new and different and even more honest perspective.
Love and light.