It’s often said that when it comes to relationships, communication is key. And I agree with this for most people. But for me, I’m not sure complete communication is the answer.
Verbally communicating my feelings has never been easy as I’ve been told I can come across as harsh or blunt, and people have even joked with me, “Wow, tell us how you really feel.” And that’s the thing. I did. I did say how I really felt, in the gentlest way I knew how, but sometimes the truth is not gentle. Sometimes truth is painful, no matter how many unicorns and starbursts you use to cover it up. Most of the time, people don’t want to know how you really feel, or at least, that’s my experience.
For me, now, it’s hard to get the words out. They often feel like burdens free flowing from my throat. I feel a heaviness in them. They are just words, and yet, they carry so much. If I keep them pushed down, they just kind of buzz in the background like an annoying tiny gnat I occasionally swat away.
The words that are supposed to come out as feelings, ideas, and concerns often end up coming out sounding like complaints, nagging, or general unhappiness, and so when the dreaded question “What’s wrong?” is asked, the only plausible answer is “Not much, just tired.“ Tell us how you really feel.
The burden of communicating those words to another is almost too much to bear. And what would my spouse, child, or loved one think of me anyway? That I’m not strong enough or not capable of dealing with life? That I’m not stable? That I take all of my blessings for granted? That I am mean and uncaring?
Communication is key, but at what cost? The cost of the person I love feeling bad or helpless? Feeling not good enough or like I am attacking them? Feeling like they failed me or like I am failing them? Disappointing or hurting my child? The cost of a person I love thinking they chose wrong when choosing me? That is something I truly could not do.
And so I push the feelings aside. Because how do you make “I’m lonely” sound like butterflies and rainbows? How do you make “I don’t feel seen or appreciated“ sound like anything positive at all? And if I say “It’s all so much, my shoulders are so heavy with all of these people and projects and events I’m responsible for,” well then, saying that—just thinking that—creates a whole other set of emotions, including guilt and shame.
Yes, communication is key, but for me, it’s just too much of a cost.