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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Facing a Past Hurt

Several years ago, I had a situation with another woman that was very hurtful. When we came to her and her husband about the situation, they invited us to dinner to talk about it. The dinner was a disaster. Rather than being about resolving our differences, the couple used this as an opportunity to let us know everything we've done to hurt them, and everything good they've done for us. Their attitude was, "how dare you have anything against us when we've done all this for you and overlooked all of these faults?" In the end, we agreed to disagree, and nothing was ever resolved.

The experience scarred me deeply. As much as I tried getting beyond the hurt, I couldn't. I felt so much shame and condemnation from a couple that I'd once looked up to. I was afraid to engage with anyone who knew them because they'd put us so far in the wrong that I was afraid others would also look badly upon us. When this couple moved, I was relieved. But the hurt never went away.

Fast forward several years. Hubby ran into them at an activity our kids are doing together. And of course, they're on the same team. At our daughter's last game, the woman sat behind me. She arrived late, so I wasn't obligated to speak to her. I was relieved because the thought of even seeing her made me feel sick to my stomach. However, shortly after she arrived, I could hear her talking to her mother or mother in law. I was horrified to realize that she was talking about me.

They spent a great deal of time talking about me, and while I didn't hear all the details, I can tell you that it wasn't positive. I wished I had the courage to turn around and say, "since you're talking about me, why don't I join you?" But I'm not that brave, and I'm not sure it would have ended well. As I sat there, uncomfortable about being gossiped about in my presence, I realized something- she's hurting too.

The talk stopped as soon as I started cheering for my kiddo. Part of me hoped she realized her faux pas and was embarrassed to have been so indiscreet. Then I wondered if maybe the reason she acted the way she did was because she was embarrassed over how she'd treated me. And I thought, "I don't want her to be embarrassed further."

For the first time, I had compassion for the woman who'd treated me so badly. I still don't know what motivated her to hurt me. But I can't stop thinking about something I read a long time ago- "hurting people hurt people." Maybe I was the one to hurt her, causing her to respond in kind. Or maybe it was someone else, but I reminded her of that wound and made her lash out. Maybe it was a combination of both. I don't know. I'm not sure she knows either.

I'll admit that I'm probably not going to become her BFF. In fact, other than exchanging the same pleasantries I exchange with the other parents on the team, I probably won't talk to her. There's still a lot of healing in my heart that I need to do. But I'm finding it easier, knowing that she's suffering under the burden of our previous conflict, to let mine go. For me, taking the time to step back and try to imagine things from her eyes has helped in my healing.

Is there a wound from the past you're still healing from? How have you handled facing that person again?

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