The purpose of this post is NOT to scare anyone away from talking to us. That already happens too much. The purpose is to simply help anyone who wants to talk to us know a little more about what’s going on in our heads. We hear often that people don’t know what to say. I hope this helps.
So an interesting phenomenon has become very apparent to us in the eight months since Simon died. And it’s a frustrating, unfair phenomenon. It’s the phenomenon of excuses.
I’m not talking about us making excuses to avoid parties or other events, though that has happened. I’m not even talking about the excuses others have made to not see the Debbie Downers whose baby died, though I’m certain that has happened as well.
I’m talking about excuses for comments, words, behaviors. Those comments that sting, words that dismiss us or Simon, behaviors that confuse us and make us feel like we are unwanted.
The crazy thing is that the excuses for all of these things don’t even come from the offending person. That would be a bit more palatable. At least then we would have a chance to understand why they do, say (or don’t say) what they did.
But that’s not who makes the excuses.
The excuses come from, well, virtually everyone else.
We confide in someone that this thing someone else said hurt and what is the most common response? “Well I’m sure that’s not what he meant by that.” Or “It was probably meant to be a joke” or even “you shouldn’t take it personally, she just doesn’t think before she speaks.” Yes, I’ve heard some (or all) of these. And these excuses put us in a tough spot.
They put us in a position that we are forced to understand and empathize with a person who said or did something that shows an utter lack of understanding or empathy for us. We get chastised for taking things “the wrong way” but the person who said it doesn’t have to explain the wrong thing they said.
It’s pretty shitty to have to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt when we are the ones deeply hurt by a comment that, even if it wasn’t meant to cut, it did.
She wasn’t thinking about how it would come out? Think about it.
He’s just like that? Grow, evolve as a person.
Don’t take it personally? Not so easy when every nerve ending is on the surface and things I don’t even expect to hurt really do.
We read a book to Nolan called The Rabbit Listened. Nolan loves it. In the book, a kid is sad, and a rabbit sits next to him and simply listens. He doesn’t offer advice or criticism. He just listens. It’s really hard to confide what we are feeling to anyone. What we are looking for when we do is to listen. Let us tell you why it hurt. Let us tell you how something crushed us. Listen, and be there for us.
That’s what we need. We don’t need excuses.