How amazing would it be to be able to embrace life and relationships with an open heart and mind, not blocked and clouded or defended against fear of being hurt or humiliated?
Certainly we can come unstuck if we are open and sensitive at times sharing with those who may shame us or try to put us down. Criticism from others that is not given in kind and heartfelt way does injure us and makes us fear opening up again in any way. If we are raised by or spend a lot of time around narcissists, those who are invested in not allowing us to actually fully express ourselves and our truth being open in this way becomes difficult and fraught with all kinds of fears and insecurities. We may fear where the next defence or attack may come from if we are honest with others who are nothing like those people who blocked us before from expressing our feelings, wants and needs.
Learning to develop good boundaries, learning to gain a better sense of how and when it is appropriate to express ourselves, as well as when we need to be quiet and listen to others and make an attempt to step into their shoes is so important.
I was reading a chapter about compassionate communication in my book Love for No Reason : 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love last night after returning home from a dinner with friends I had not seen in a long time. It was talking about keep the channel between our heart chakra and our throat centre open.
One of the things mentioned was how it is so important to our own wellbeing and the maintaining of healthy relationships to be able to be open, honest and authentic in our communications with others. We need to find a way to speak from our own truth, but not in such a way that is harsh, critical and judgemental, nor in such a way that steps all over the boundaries of others.
Most certainly there are times in which we will try to express our truth and others will react badly, even if we are being sensitive to them. That reaction most probably has a lot more to do with them and their own issues. Often too we can be on the receiving end of criticism that has nothing to do with us. Something we have done may have sparked the pain body of the other person, an area of old hurt, wounding or sensitivity and if that person is defended or lacks emotional insight and intelligence they will react in a difficult way, they may deflect, deny or blame.
I remember in my last relationship with a man who had intense narcissistic issues, I was slammed for turning up on time to collect him from a bus journey that was running early. I got in trouble for not being there to meet him as he had sent a text while I was in the video shop dropping off a DVD to let me know it was going to be 5 minutes early.
When I arrived to pick him up an argument ensued (we are talking about 5 minutes here). It had been raining and there was lightening around the bus stop. “I could have been hurt or injured,” he said to me. I tried to point out I was sorry, I was actually on time but had missed the text and had done my best, in fact I had spent most of the afternoon preparing a dinner for him which I then mentioned (this sort of thing happens with narcissists, we try to argue against the unfairness of what they are trying to lay on us that is associated with old pain). I got a huge serve for changing the subject and we ended up breaking up for the third time after this incident.
In this situation there was no way to soothe what was actually a sore spot for him. Maybe I could have helped the situation by acknowledging his fear (while recognising it was more about past issues than present ones), who knows. As usual after we broke up I went over and over critical issues like this trying to figure out what had gone wrong and what was my part in it. I would add this is a guy who would keep me waiting for hours at a time at critical times. In the end I think I may have been set up to fail in any case. It was really impossible in the end to meet the list of his demands of me which centred around trying to make up for all the failures of a mother who had left him at age 4 to escape an abusive marriage.
On reflecting upon all of this recently I feel that part of recovering from narcissistic wounds or our vulnerability to narcissistic relationships (we are more liable to attract these when we have emotional wounds and difficulties with boundaries ourselves) means we struggle to become aware when fear is actually blocking the full and free expression of emotions that lie underneath the fear. Fear of these emotions and how vulnerable we do feel when they are touched causes us to react or over react in painful ways. It causes us to attack or defend.
What might it mean to stay open and non judgemental in this situation, even when our defences have been sparked, to be aware that there is a tender spot within all of us that lies beneath this fear? One that needs our attention, care, understanding, insight and love. It is something to contemplate.