It can be hard for some folks to know when harm has hit them. We know some of you are shocked and give the side-eye when you read this. Harm can be hard to detect when it isn’t physical. We live in a society with preset measurements for “extenuating circumstances”, which change based upon color, gender and the perception of the alleged victim. Under some circumstances, a victim isn’t a victim until the right person says he or she has been violated.
All of which is so unfair!
Sometimes pain and mistreatment whispers into relationships and it is hard for us to hear or to see what is happening.
An iron-clad sign is having to keep your happiness low-key. If you need to keep a promotion, an accomplishment or the “Win-For-The-Day” a secret or any other glow-up moment in your life to yourself because someone will knock it down, this person doesn’t mean you well.
Another sign is when someone does not allow you to express your own hurt or to seek support. We worked with a couple struggling in their marriage. The wife has a physical challenge she works hard to overcome daily, but it will be a lifelong issue for her. Her husband doesn’t allow her to speak of her disability despite its impact and limitations in her daily life. For him, speaking of it causes her to be limited. When the truth is, talking about it brings the deficits in their life to the forefront and he doesn’t want to provide support to her. To keep from being accountable, he has forced his wife not to speak of her disability. Meanwhile, she cries silently and does without many needs on a daily basis due to lack of help.
Have you ever had to tiptoe around a person or felt anxious about meeting a person? For whatever reason, you knew you were at risk of a problem coming up. You had no idea what the problem could be or would be. You were certain it would involve you and it would be your fault. Trying to live your life preventing fires that have yet to be lit or may never start is exhausting! Yet, if you don’t you could be in a full blaze at any moment and somehow, you should have seen it coming.
Next, being in a position causing you to feel you are not good enough as you are is hurtful and demeaning. When you allow yourself to be in the presence of someone comparing you to everyone and everything that is not you, you’ll question your own self-worth. This pain can cut so deeply a person will begin to doubt the need for their own existence. And this earth needs all the diversity and uniqueness of good folks to keep the Love Thang Village going!
These unloving comparisons can happen between a mother and a child…a supervisor and an employer or a husband and a wife.
A parent can compare one child to another child to the extent a person loses their confidence and begins to desire the identity of their sibling because this will seem to be the only one to have parental approval or love.
This unspoken harm can be subtle and go unnoticed because it is often an act committed by someone you love, know or respect. And that never makes it ok. Someone being familiar with you or close in your circle doesn’t get to knock you down because of their connection to you. In truth, this person has a greater duty to safeguard you.
And when you don’t protect yourself, this is mistreatment too.
Be good to you.