Part Question; Part Soapbox
When you experience emotional pain, do you lash out or withdraw? If your pain goes unresolved, do you handle it differently as time goes on or does your initial reaction intensify? Does the way you handle emotional pain differ depending on how socially acceptable the cause of your pain is? If you feel any degree of embarrassment or responsibility does it change how you deal with it?
Personally, I tend to withdraw in emotional pain while inside I desperately hope that someone will reach out to me or something will change and relieve my pain. My behavior will sometimes take a form similar to a sad little shipwrecked girl huddling in a lifeboat firing the flare gun occasionally and hoping someone sees the signal, and the more I hurt, and the longer I wait for rescue, the more often I begin to fire the flares. When I stop firing flares, you’ll know I’ve lost hope entirely.
Lately one of our members has been called out a couple times for “negative” comments about his experiences. Maybe I’m projecting, but dang if I don’t see those comments as flares. I suspect he’s hoping maybe somehow, sometime things are going to change or one of us might actually have the crazy (inspired!) idea that finally makes the difference for him, but if not…at least someone remembers he’s there. Maybe this is the only place he has to express his pain. After all, how many of us have someone IRL that we could go to and say, “My sex life is extremely dissatisfying and I am deeply unhappy and hurt!”
Instead of complaining about what a downer he is, maybe we should pray for him and his wife, and everyone else who might not have the courage to send the flare, but reads his and says, “Yes! Me too!”
I think an important question we should add to this mix is, How can we emulate Christ and be full of grace and full of truth?
I don’t think we ought to dismiss truth. If we see a sister or brother in sin, our love ought to drive us to speak truth to them. Jesus spoke truth in His encounters. But, our love ought to drive us to give and show grace, at the same time, just as Jesus did. I think we all have a tendency to swing one direction over the other, but both, completely and fully, are who Jesus is, and what we are called to be as one in Him, and He in us.
Duchess, I absolutely love the analogy you used. I don’t think I have ever seen it described the way you did, but it very accurately describes the way I tend to act out in unresolved hurt. In the past, it would have been different, and generally would have been an escalation of anger, till I finally blew my top. Your description of the flares is so insightful, but I think there have been a few times that final crescendo you described might more closely resemble a fireworks display😮.
Speaking of the analogy. I understand it, but not until reading Doug’s comment did I give it much deeper thought, and I asked myself, “Is that how I feel or react?”
To me it portrays loneliness, isolation, and I am sure fear. For me, at my worst, I didn’t feel relatively safe in a boat. I felt like I was in the water, going under, suffocating and drowning. With the occasional “Help” coming out, but mostly that wide-eyed look that they talk about drowning looking like.
If you have seen the movie “Breakthrough”, that boys drowning and miraculous saving, might be a better portrayal of what happened inside of me. 😳 I still get a sour taste in my mouth when I think about certain people’s reaction, then I forgive them again.
All along, my only glimpse of hope was knowing we had a Resurrected King who could bring dead things back to life.
I certainly shrink back and send up flares wanting to receive loving attention, but then end up lashing out in anger when the response is not helpful or loving. I really like your analogy and hadn’t thought about the “sending up flares” before.