It is the worst feeling in the world when you unintentionally cause someone else pain. You wish you could rewind, unsay, and erase, erase, erase.
It is like lightning striking your relationship, too. It hurts both sides.
I’m at a loss to understand or amend what happened between me and a very important person in my life. This morning, my emotions are crippling my ability to think straight, so I’m doing what any writer might do to pull myself out of it. WRITING.
Sadly, the situation keeps making me think of a dramatic story I read in one of those emailed-to-everyone-and-their-brother chain emails. With the email long gone, I’ll retell it here (and please let me know if it comes from a book with copyrights, thx).
Once upon a time, there was a boy and his dad, some arrows and a fence. The boy opens the story by picking on another kid with his friends, as kids do. He badly hurts someone’s feelings without, like most kids, fully understanding what he has done.
So the father asks the boy to shoot a few arrows into the fence, and the kid does. The father explains that the arrows are like the insults he lobbed at the other kid. The arrows damaged the fence, and those comments hurt the kid, too.
Light bulb starts to go on in the son’s head. He wants to run apologize to the other kid right away.
But first the father asks him to pull the arrows out of the fence. They leave gaping holes and splintered wood. “Can you fix the fence?” asks the dad. Horrified, the kid realizes no. Even if you fill the holes with putty, they are still there. The fence is permanently damaged.
Lesson: When you hurt someone, you have created a wound that, even though you smooth it over later, is still there in some form. Permanent damage. Therefore, do everything you can to never hurt someone on purpose. Bite your tongue. Go for a walk. Let the vitriol cool off. Get some healing. Make the better choice, and love your neighbor.
But what about healing?
It will never, ever get better? Omg, what a depressing story! But so is my personal situation, in its recent rawness. It feels irreversible. I feel like our relationship will never be the same because this horrible, awful misunderstanding happened. There will be holes in the fence. We will always remember this.
Sure, the dad’s demonstration helped the kid better understand THAT he hurt someone. But is it really true? Do hearts and humans, like wooden fences, never heal?
Is this an outdated, incorrect story? Is this one of the common cultural myths we are learning to heal beyond?
Do you think it is possible, with forgiveness and genuine healing (not repairing), to fill those holes and restore the relationship? Do you think the dad is teaching his kid the wrong principle, which, in reverse is this: when you get hurt you will never be able to repair yourself?
I myself believe that this story is old thinking. After 15 years as a healer, I know it is.
I know that genuinely healing a harmful relationship event (not fixing, not undoing) can transform the relationship by taking it to a new place of understanding, deepened love, and appreciation. It’s not quite “learning the lesson” in the event — it is transcending it to a place where it does not matter any more.
It’s easier to understand this by thinking of little things that are easy to forgive and forget, like a toddler wobbling and spilling your coffee on your lap. Unintentional, easy to let go of (maybe after you change and mop up). So can the BIG rifts in life be, with healing, true healing. To begin, you just have to ask how you can get to that bright and healed place.
Thanks for the reminder. Thanks for helping me pull out of my old attitude.
I am feeling better already.
© 2012 Daria Boissonnas