When we are caught in a conflict words can become our greatest obstacle. Either there are so many that we can never feel satisfied that we have expressed all the hurt and anger we have experienced or we struggle to even begin to describe the pain and fire that burns inside. We may alternate between floods of recrimination and defense followed by periods of stony silence that seem to stretch out indefinitely.
As communication stops our relationships freeze. Yet we burn and long for healing and renewed companionship. We may play out long speeches in our heads where we overwhelm our opponent with an incontestable outline of their wrongs and our suffering. Or we rehearse our defenses and justifications- working point by point through the rationalization that we are truly the victim. Our “mistake” was in trying too hard to do the right thing.
Too many words or no words at all. Communication becomes impossible as we are alternately flooded and starved for what is the most basic, most essential to life and relationship: belonging. Loneliness- the scarcity of belonging- is a devastating and destructive experience. It is even crueler and more corrosive when it must be endured in the presence of someone whom we have loved and with whom we have experienced comfort, happiness, and safety.
Differences and conflicts are inevitable. In order to be our most authentic self we must disagree, at times, even with those we are closest to. We learn to accept that our experience is unique and unknowable to anyone else. We recognize that we cannot completely share our life and experience of the world with anyone else. No one will ever know or understand all that we know about this world. Yet this is balanced by the relief of those moments when we can and do remember and share special moments with those whom we allow close to us.
In times of conflict three words stand between us and the despair of loneliness that could overwhelm us. Three words in those moments when the fighting and tension in our relationships make us most aware of our ‘aloneness’. Three words that we can choose from a range of words to bridge the divide that opens when our aloneness becomes too painful:
I miss you
I am lonely
I need you
I was wrong
I don’t understand
I will try
I am hurting
Please help me
I love you
You are important
Three simple words. Developing new and effective communication skills is a key component of healing and growing your relationship. Contact me today and learn more: www.jimwalkerlcsw.com