I suck at confrontation. When someone hurts my feelings or makes me angry, I want to tell them, I truly do. But most of the time, I internalize the pain and hide under my proverbial bed. From past experiences, when I tell a person that they hurt me, he/she becomes defensive or angry. It’s hard for me to stick with my own feelings when this happens. I feel off-balance. It’s as if I did something wrong by expressing myself. That’s when the anxious thoughts begin:

Maybe I shouldn’t have told them how I feel because by doing so I’ve made them angry.

I’m too sensitive.

I’m overreacting.

I don’t have a right to feel this way. 

They’ve been such a good friend to me.

When someone I care about is upset with me, it is devastating. I empathize with them. I feel uncomfortable, because they are in pain. They hurt so I hurt. That is why it’s so hard to confront people when they hurt me. I can’t distinguish between their feelings and my own. I start to merge with their anger, hurt, confusion, sadness, and then it’s hard to remember why I was upset in the first place.

Then, the resentment comes. I feel upset that they don’t care about my feelings. They are so busy expressing how they feel that they’re neglecting to acknowledge my feelings. I can’t tell you how many boyfriends I’ve had this argument with. This might as well be my mantra:

You’re not acknowledging my feelings.

One of the things I value the most in a relationship is to be heard. When I find the nerve to confront someone close to me, it terrifies me. I am standing there shaking, hoping that the person will hear me. I’m praying that they will acknowledge my feelings. In my experience, there have been few occasions when I’ve confronted someone and felt like they truly heard me. This is why (healthy or not) I tend to keep my hurt feelings to myself.

I’m working on this issue. I don’t want to be like this forever. I struggle this core belief: I must have done something wrong for this person to hurt me. 

Intellectually, I know this isn’t true. But it feels true.

I need to believe that my feelings matter. They are valid no matter what the other person says or does. If they acknowledge them, that’s great. If they dismiss them, I cannot control that. It’s so hard to express myself and take a gamble that the person hearing me might not react in the way I’d like them to. That’s part of the problem. I have a vision of what I’d like the person on the receiving end to say. It goes a little something like this:

I’m sorry I hurt you. I’ll try to be more sensitive next time.

In arguments, there is no script. You can’t tell the other person what to say or do.

Confrontation is challenging for me, but I’m not giving up. I’m learning to stand firmly on my own two emotional feet. I don’t need to cower just because someone disagrees with me. There is not right and wrong with feelings. I am allowed to feel however I want, and you have that same right. It’s a matter of attempting to acknowledge both sets of feelings equally and finding a balance so we are both heard.

Will Stewart//Unsplash

Will Stewart//Unsplash