We unknowingly hurt each other while trying to help. Your attempt to protect me? Hurts me.
Somehow, maybe because your heart is so big or you love so much, or because someone loved you so much and you learned from them, you got into this whole “protecting another person” thing. There can be lots of other reasons as well…
This supposed protection involves withholding truths from someone you care about, whether they are your own personal truths or truths about reality that are just too difficult for you to share.
It hurts you to imagine how much pain they are going to experience upon discovering said truth, and you would take it on a million fold to prevent them from having to feel it.
Case in point in my life:
My 3 year old’s best friend is changing schools.
1st world problems, I know, but I’m devastated for my little guy.
But here’s the thing: Me looking away from this situation doesn’t change it.
Me not talking to him about it doesn’t make it go away.
As much as I’d like this boy to be at school with my boy, he’s not.
And let’s get real, my kid will be fine, he’ll adjust and drop his best friend as fast as he lost interest in Thomas The Train.
But my big mama heart just wants him to be with his friend forever more and have things be okay.
I don’t want him to feel the pain.
But this attempt to protect him from the pain by withholding the truth from him is an insult to his humanity, his heart, his soul, his freedom, his resilience.
So I’ve gotta check myself. And be there for him with his grief, however it comes up.
This is where your big heart can get you into trouble, when you castrate the people in your lives by “protecting” them.
Their pain won’t kill them, and it’s not your fault that they feel it.
Pain is part of life, growth, learning and development.
And we don’t just do it to our kids.
Adults do it to each other.
You may feel guilt or shame about your truth, unknowingly, so you hide from it, much less acknowledge it, much less share it. If your truth may hurt someone you love, you may hang onto it, and look away from it.
Here’s the thing:
You’ll never be able to escape what is.
You can stuff your feelings, squelch that small voice inside of you, and turn away from your emotional reality.
But it’s not going anywhere.
It would as ridiculous as me pretending my boy’s buddy never left preschool.
Hiding your truth from yourself and then subsequently from important people in your lives as a way of protecting them, when it’s ugly or you wish it weren’t true, only makes things worse.
It distances you from you, and you from them, and the ugly truth sucks up more of your energy and becomes a word I recently learned from a client:
(“a nest or breeding place; especially : a place or substance in an animal or plant where bacteria or other organisms lodge and multiply,” per dictionary.com)
In other words, what was once something upsetting or painful becomes worse. It grows more layers and becomes more complex and difficult to deal with.
Your efforts become self-defeating and your protection causes more pain than necessary.
You may be doing this to your partner (or another loved one in your life) without even realizing it.
You’re erecting walls that keep the problem stagnant.
I want you to tear down those walls so that you can share the pain together.
This act of vulnerability, bravery and surrender is ultimately more protective than anything you can do by ignoring what’s there or hiding it from anyone.
Even if it felt like it was at one point in your life:
It’s not all on you.
Quit playing God.
I know you are strong and can take it on, but so can the person you care about.
Ask yourself, where are you taking on too much?
Where are you trying to “protect” that is rendering you distant from the ones who matter most?
Let me know if this hits home.
I thrive on your feedback.
Thank you. I am going to send this to my WS. Maybe this will get through to him.
Jenev Caddell says
Thank you for your comment, Amber! Not sure what WS stands for – but I’m glad the post was helpful for you.
Katie Sofio says
I love this! Thank you! What do you think about protecting ourselves? Do we need to protect ourselves, like in relationships? Is there a danger in getting too close to someone?
Jenev Caddell says
Thanks so much for your comment. Absolutely we need to take care of ourselves first and keep in mind our needs and protect ourselves with boundaries based on how safe we feel with others. I think the answer to your question about getting too close to someone depends everything on the people involved. In an ideal world, with the right people, I personally don’t think there is a danger, but for sure, that doesn’t mean we walk around with our chests open and hearts available for anyone to walk all over…make sense?