Being Misunderstood

All of us go through life being misunderstood at least some of the time. How can we ever completely understand each other when we have all walked different roads, with different life experiences? We can’t. We can try. We can put ourselves in others’ shoes and develop empathy, certainly. But we can never hope to be completely understood by others.

Now and then someone will come along who, regardless of differences in life circumstances, understands usimmediately – not just in a way that general friends understand us, but someone who gets us immediately, without explanation. I am blessed with a friend like that. We are different in so many obvious ways and don’t get to catch up terribly often. But knowing she is there is such a comfort for understanding.

So little needs to be explained between us, in order for each of us to know where the other is at in them self. I remember when we first met, sitting there listening to her and to her responses to things I said, as a sense of belonging swept through me, a feeling I had neverexperienced on that level previously in my life.

People like this are rare though. At different times we can be blessed to find such connection with a partner, a friend, a family member, a work colleague. It is important to truly appreciate such connections. They are a rare gift indeed, but they are certainly possible to find.

At other times though, there is a connection with people up to a point. You can see them as the best mate in the world, the most beautiful partner, or whatever, and this feeling can last for years, months, or briefly. Then one day you see them through clearer eyes and you realise that the friendship and/or relationship is not actually as healthy for you as you once thought.

It may have all been on their terms, you’re both growing in different directions, or you recognise that the values driving each of you are conflicting. Regardless, things do change. We are all constantly growing and evolving. And through that, some friendships and/or relationships will survive and some won’t.

This is a part of life and the impermanence of things. Sometimes though, in learning to honour your own heart and give yourself the love that you give to others, you can be misunderstood completely. Those who had you pigeon-holed into being one sort of person may then accuse you of being someone else.

All you are doing though, is giving yourself the same love as you give to others. This can take a lot of courage. It is not always easy. In fact, it rarely is. Extracting yourself from someone you still care for, but someone who you know that deep-down is actually not the nicest person around, through whatever of their traits have awakened you to the reality of things, is not always as easy as that person may think it is for you.

Such decisions can be heartbreaking, especially when the mind will continue to remind you of their other genuinely lovely points. But the inner voice of wisdom will not be silenced long-term. It reminds you over and over of how it is time to honour your own needs and that despite the history, it is time to let go and move on.

It doesn’t just hurt the person being left behind. It can be incredibly painful to leave friendships or relationships that had many positives as well. But in order to move forward, you can no longer share your feelings on that level with the person or you are back into the unhealthy dynamics of the relationship as it was, on their terms again etc.

Don’t get me wrong. Some relationships and friendships are definitely worth the work. The amazing growth that can come from honest communication and emotional maturity is healing and life-changing in the best of ways.

Sometimes though, your heart tells you over and over that it is time to let go. Breaking the habits of that friendship and/or relationship may leave you being very misunderstood, spoken harshly of, and accused of not being the person they thought you were.

But we cannot control how others will react. If we wanted to do that, we would spend our lives retracing our steps to ensure every single person we ever met liked and understood us and still never succeed. This is the nature of the human heart and mind. They have free choice to feel and think whatever they like. We cannot control that in others.

We can only do our best to be understood, and especially to understand ourselves and our own deepest needs. One of these is to know our own love and to listen to our own heart, even when it tells us to go in directions we know will bring us (and possibly others) pain. But not listening to your heart brings much, much more pain in the long term.

Honesty takes courage. Sometimes though, so does silence. Breaking patterns, not continuing to explain yourself over and over, and knowing you will be misunderstood, are sometimes necessary in order to honour your own heart and health. A friend of mine lives by the motto “Never Complain, Never Explain”. I love this, as sometimes explaining takes far more effort than it is worth.

Feel compassion, certainly. But sometimes that compassion has to be a detached compassion, from a distance, with trust that they too are on their own journey and that you have both played the role you were meant to in each other’s lives, in order to facilitate the growth you are both now experiencing, individually.

Letting go is not always easy. But sometimes, it is absolutely necessary.

Staying silent is not always easy either, but sometimes too, it is also necessary.