“I hate my parents.”
I work with families and teenagers in recovery. I often hear these words or words like them, uttered with bitterness. Sometimes accompanied by tears and distant stares.
The words may be directed towards parents or family, ex-lovers, friends… or even drugs. At first, the words are spoken, jabbed like verbal daggers.
But the daggers don’t tell the whole story.
Many times when we say we hate someone, underneath our words is not anger, but hurt. “Hate” usually means “Hurt” because of what someone else has said or done to us. Hate is much easier to say. Hate is directed at someone else. Hate means that we feel that we have reasons that justify our behavior.
Saying we are hurt drops the daggers. It takes vulnerability. It takes courage. Saying that we feel hurt means that we are owning our pain, accepting that it is there.
Hate keeps the walls up, but saying we feel hurt lets them down. Healing begins when we acknowledge the hurt that is underneath our anger, our substance use, our obsessive use of exercise/overeating/porn/shopping, our depression, our self-injury.
Hate is easy to say, it rolls from the lips. It justifies and can make us feel like someone else is responsible for the choices we are making. But admitting that we feel hurt unites us with others, regardless of their skin color, beliefs, level of education, their wealth or status.
We may not be ready to face all of our pain, our memories, or the choices that we have in front of us. Admitting begins when we become aware of what is. And awareness can help us move to acceptance. In time, we will have to face the things that we, ourselves have said or done to hurt others.
When we move towards healing, hurt bonds us to those that we feel have hurt us. What others have done to us may have involved hurt, trauma or broken trust. Accepting our hurt can create empathy for those who have hurt us, but what they have done is still a violation. Accepting our hurt means that we can forgive so that we are set free.
Admitting hurt means being honest with ourselves. Sometimes we have to face how we have distorted, exaggerated or overreacted to situations. It is easy to say that we hate our parents, friends or other people for what they have said or done. But honesty means that we have the courage to lay aside our blame and entitlement and demands. We see ourselves. We see others.
The daggers never tell the whole story.
Hate can often mean that somewhere underneath, we feel hurt.
Ask yourself, is it Hate or Hurt?
If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to see some of my other work:
I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.
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Keep it Real
Photo by Contra Curva