I had an epiphany today. I have my doubts about whether I’ll be able to express my profound thought in a way that sounds profound…but I guess I’m willing to take the risk. What may be a common sense thought to me may be a ground-breaking realization to you and vice versa. I know that’s certainly how things tend to be with J and me, anyway.
So, before I tell you my realization, let me give a bit of background information: I’m very reactionary, and by that I mean I tend to have big reactions to things. I won’t go so far as to say I’m bipolar, but I do have high highs and low lows. I feel a wide spectrum of feelings, and it’s downright impossible for me to hide those feelings. Even if I don’t blurt them out in a flurry of words as I am apt to do, my face tells all. J says it’s a good thing to be so transparent, but I find it very vulnerable for everyone to know what I feel about something. For better or for worse — mostly worse — that’s my personality.
And then there’s J who is just about the exact opposite. He is a man of few words. He thinks about things before he reacts. He’s calculating, he’s careful, he’s reserved. He’s steady and strong and all the things I tend to wish I was.
…but here’s the problem… In our disagreements, we hurt each other. A lot. He takes a risk and expresses a (generally valid) complaint, and I react with my big personality. My voice gets louder and squeakier with emotion, and he retreats into the safety of his head. The more I react, the less he communicates, and the less he communicates, the more I try to pull him out…which, of course, causes him to pull back even more. He hurts me by his failure to engage, and I hurt him by my aggressive approach.
Our counselor urged me to try to not react when he expresses a complaint, but to try to merely say something like “Thank you for telling me how you feel.” (SHOOT. I don’t know if I can do it. I’m going to try, but it’s going to take every ounce of my willpower.) After the session, I was mulling over the things we had talked about and I arrived at my epiphany.
Both J and I need to learn the same important lesson, but we’ll have to apply it VERY differently. The lesson? That our words are powerful. We must be accountable for the weight of our words. It’s so very simple, and yet so profound.
I need to recognize how much my reactionary words tear J down on a regular basis. I need to work on wielding my words with extreme caution so as to not hurt the man I love more than any person on this planet. And J needs to recognize the power of his words too… He has the power to encourage and affirm me with his words, but his silence has done tremendous damage to me. My hope is that he will recognize the weight of his words and use them. I need to stop speaking death into his life, and my hope is that he will start speaking life into mine.
Words. Weighty, powerful words.