I am still reeling from a comment made by Laura Campbell last week in response to my Defenses = Damage post. When referring to the all-too-common practice of lashing out at another person, she said, “Rarely is it to hurt another person, most often it is to protect our pain.”
(Wow. What a profound statement!)
Over the weekend, I noticed this tendency in a non-divorce scenario:
Boyfriend and I were visiting some friends and we were told a story about how their daughter’s privacy was violated during the school year. We were outraged, as was our friend who told the story. The conversation was peppered with typical statements: “They lied!”…”No way?!?!”… “oh, it gets better.”…. “lawyer”…. “so I said”…. “Can you believe that?!?!”
We went round and round with the he said/she said and what could’ve/should’ve happened. Oh, the injustice of it all- it was truly a maddening story!
And then… the male half of the couple suggested a reasonable explanation from the other side of the story. And suddenly everything changed in the light of compassion. Our anger was replaced with understanding. Before long, there was nothing left to say. The conversation drifted on to other topics.
On the way home, I mentioned Laura’s comment and referenced the conversation that had taken place. Indeed, we’d reacted the way we did because we all knew how it felt to have our privacy violated. We were, in fact, protecting our own pain. That is, until we were forced to step outside of ourselves and into the shoes of the “enemy”, who by that time was no longer an adversary but just another fallible human being.
It’s insane, isn’t it? That we often behave violently (verbally or physically) in order to protect/preserve something that hurts us. We hurt others so we can continue to hurt ourselves.
Wouldn’t it be better to let go of our own pain and exercise compassion for others?
Easier? Of course not.