I fought with my sister and now we’re not talking. I know that I should apologize for some of the things I said but I’m finding it hard to let go of my own hurt. I don’t want our relationship to continue to suffer, but how are we supposed to work through this?
Hurting in Lacey
I’m sorry to hear that there is so much tension in your family right now. It’s hard to have so much strain on someone important to you, but this closeness may be your saving grace.
Family relationships are the only relationships where you can virtually guarantee that the other person wants what’s best for you. On the downside, family also knows which buttons to push to set your off. This combination can be helpful, but it can also be hurtful.
I was a hitter when I was little. I used to punch my sister when I was angry in an attempt to make her stop talking, and it usually worked. Around the age of seven, I accidentally beat up a close friend of mine and swore off swearing entirely. That experience taught me that my punching did hurt people, and as a result, I felt tremendous guilt. This gave my sister a potential weapon, though; she used it a lot as we grew up.
It was years before I finally had enough and decided to stop feeling guilty, but up until that point, whenever we would fight, my sister would remind me of my past behaviors. It seemed like a low blow every time to me, but it wasn’t until I reached my adult years that I realized that people only “punch” when they are feeling attacked.
When two people get into a fight, one person is already hurting. It’s possible that the hurt was carried over from a past discussion or that something said hit a little harder than expected. Either way, once one person is hurt, things can spiral out of control quickly. One person throws an accidental punch, the next person throws a punch in retaliation, and then the game is on.
Recognizing this pattern is vital to forgiveness.
Your pain was either unintentional or a result of her pain. In the first case, the pain you feel is because something she said is likely, something you think about yourself. My sister saying that I should feel guilty over hitting her only hurt me because I did feel guilty. In the second case, you can recognize that your sister was upset, which allows you an opportunity to release a bit of your own anger.
With a better handle on your hurt, you can now start to analyze. What was said that hurt you? Is there evidence to support what was said? If so, what can you do now to help fix the problem or improve yourself?
These questions can bring a sense of clarity and action which will help you further release your pent-up emotions. Keep working until you’re able to let go of the pain and then move on to the final step, returning to discuss the issue.
Ideally, everyone would do this instead of lashing out when they’re initially hurt. Deal with your pain and then talk to the person who hurt you. This way, you can explain why you were upset without attacking or causing further damage to the relationship.
Yes, you can technically skip this step if you want, but I know that, in my family, people are often surprised to discover that I’m hurt at all. Because I took the time to process and then confront, I’m able to find a sense of resolution without causing pain for anyone else. Which, I’m guessing, is what you would also prefer in your family.
Take your time and follow the steps. If you do, you will find the family harmony you’re hoping for.
I wish you luck.
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