I was just noticing one of the ironies of personal communication.
Someone can crush your heart by their behaviour, and if you choose to tell them, in hopes that they will change the behaviour, or at least recognize that there is another perspective, with alarming frequency, instead of acknowledging your hurt, they will deny it. Beyond just denying your feelings, they frequently turn around and get angry at you for being hurt.
This is a very good argument for never allowing anyone to have the power to touch your heart, isn’t it? Affection is a messy business, and when the people we trust to be safe havens for our trust prove unworthy, it can be particularly nasty.
If the attacks prove consistent, and it’s a friend who is the source of hurt, then you can cut them out of your life. It is simple enough to fade away. Sometimes though, you’re actually related to the person who is routinely disrespectful to you, and then things get more complicated!
Parents are particularly prone to this experience about the time their kids hit puberty. All those precious moments of mutual adoration suddenly come to a screeching halt and the poor parents are left wondering who put that unreasonable banchee into their kid’s bedroom. What once was a relationship of caring becomes one of distrust. All motives are presumed to be cruel and vindictive. All common courtesies are seen as violations of liberty. How do you deal with the lack of respect and consideration when the source lives in the same house? That’s a recipe for some serious stress.
I hang around with a lot of teen-agers, of course, and I see a lot of shell-shocked parents.
I already shared in a past blog about The Cat Years. It’s a lovely metaphor about how our happy, friendly little dogs (pre-teens) hit puberty and turn into taciturn cats. The premise is that if we keep trying to treat them like dogs, we’ll be unhappy. Instead, parents need to acknowledge they now have cats in the house, and change their behavior. Cats have different needs than dogs.
A little TLC for the parents is required during the process, though. Long walks, spa visits, spousal affection, concerts… Eventually it gets better. Eventually the kids learn that their parents are worthy of respect and kindness. Some just take longer than others to become happy puppies again. Occasionally they revert to being cats again.
In the meantime, one can appreciate the irony, without appreciating it.
(PS. Yes, grammar nazis, I used the singular pronoun ‘someone’ with the plural pronoun ‘they’ but you know as well as I do that that is common use as a neutral singular pronoun, and there’s no way we’re going to win the fight to stop it).