The other day I was talking to an old ex of mine. To be frank our breakup wasn’t the healthiest and I ended up reaching out to her a while back to see if I could work on some of the unhealthy trauma that might have come out of something like that. Of course, my main reason to reach out was to make sure my connections (whatever they were) were of a healthy nature since I’m particularly sensitive to that sort of stuff.
So when I reached out to her, the first thing that I noticed was how confident she was about the whole thing. She talked as if she was over the pain, and she was very peaceful upon my initiation of a conversation.
I thought to myself that it was good that despite the way we broke up she was doing well and sounded healthy.
So before we continue, I should provide some context, what exactly does this story have to do with feeling alone in our struggles? Well, our conversation continued for approximately a couple months, sporadic conversations here and there, but I figured I was turning what was a painful past into an old friend and that it wouldn’t be so bad to keep in touch. What I didn’t know was that every time I was reaching out to my ex, she wasn’t actually doing as well with our conversations as I had thought.
Haha, calls for a pretty awkward moment right? The first time I noticed this was that whenever I reached out to her to have a silly conversation with no particular agenda, if the conversation ever got deep or became about something important, she got particularly defensive and became kind of aloof. I figured she must not be interested and so was actively trying to avoid me. That’s ok, this happens, my goal the entire time was to find healing in conversation (always looking for a win-win mind you) and I wasn’t particularly picky as to how things would go forward.
What was weird to me, however, is that despite the nonchalant claims of avoidance that she was enacting towards me, inside, I was feeling some kind of pain, some kind of suffering.
Now, I must preface this by saying that I am a very sensitive guy and I tend to pick up on the pain and suffering of people around me whether I like it or not. Obviously this tends to leave me in some very awkward positions in which I’m not sure whether to address what I’m feeling with the person or to keep it to myself (in case it would be impolite or something) or sometimes even being confused as to whether what I’m feeling is really my own suffering.
You can imagine how this might cause confusion for me in scenarios in which I pick up on the suffering of people around me but have no idea how to help or whether I even should help or appease their suffering. Regardless, as someone who is sensitive to such things, the least I try to do is to at least acknoledge what I’m feeling and to acknowledge what others are feeling.
This doesn’t always work out the best because if you go up to someone and say “hey, I feel your suffering,” not everyone is aware of what might be going on and even more people are not ready to to acknowledge their own suffering in the matter. Again, you can imagine how this makes life a little tricky for me.
Anyways, back to the story. I decided to address what I was feeling with her. I told her I felt like there was something going on and it didn’t seem like a simple non-interest in me. After about 3 uncomfortable to and fro exchanges about this, I finally got a reply that made sense.
This was the first time since we had restarted conversation that she tells me that she was actually not comfortable with conversing with me and shares that talking about things that were important to her didn’t feel safe to her.
I was a little surprised at her honesty but I knew deep down that I had actually known her feelings about this for a while, I just couldn’t truly understand it until she had taken responsibility for it.
I would like to provide that any time I had hinted at her discomfort before, she would talk about her desire to maintain this positive relationship with me and how she has no issue with the matter of conversation.
Now, why am I sharing this story with you? It’s not to shed blame on anyone or to teach you some profound principle about right or wrong. The reason I’m sharing this story with you is to shed light on the fact that I couldn’t see how she was feeling. And weirdly enough, from her position, she held the stance that she was doing ok (and in fact was doing great). To tell you the truth I believed her. I figured that perhaps the suffering I was experiencing was truly my own and while I obviously had many things I was still learning about in relation to the reality of suffering and feeling good, perhaps she had overcome the pain of how we had broken up and was doing well now.
Clearly that wasn’t the case.
The rest of the story ends up with me wishing her the best and then promptly getting blocked. While this wasn’t the best of scenarios in my case, I do believe where we are now is healthier than where we were before. Having conversations with an ex that you didn’t want to have could not be healthy despite believing that the conversations that were occurring were actually positive.
I’m happy with where I am even though I’m a little sad about how things ended up. I also feel a little soft about knowing that the suffering I was experiencing was shared by her and that despite believing that she was ok and that I was alone, the truth was that there was a large amount of suffering on her part that I couldn’t even see and probably still don’t completely understand.
I just want to end this little story with a small message.
Sometimes we feel alone because we don’t realize the pain others around us are in. Of course, this doesn’t help us since feeling pain makes us feel like outcasts who are unable to truly grasp the positivity of a situation even when deep down we know we’re really just lying to ourselves.
I want all of you to know that sometimes we can get really good at lying. Even though you might know that you’re suffering despite the lies we tell, others can not always see that, and to me this is truly a shame.
I am a sensitive person (and I’m sure a lot of you reading this might be too) and so you might pick up on the people around you yet not understand it because sometimes pain and suffering goes unaddressed and can easily hide in the shadows.
Despite living like this, I write to you today in the hopes of reminding us that we’re not as alone as we might think. A lot of us share each others suffering even if the object of suffering is not the same.
And while I know that most of you who suffer wish to be able to release the pain before engaging in any conversation with another party of your life, I’d like you to know that those of us who are sensitive to your pain wish only the healthiest acceptance of what we see as a normal and human quality of your everyday experience.
And to the girl who blocked me, I hope that you find the peace in your heart that you deserve.