Photography: by my lovely mother, April.
Before we get started, I just wanted to say something real quickly: to everyone who commented, messaged, texted, called, and talked to me in person about my last two posts, you’ve made a world of difference in my life. Thank you for taking the time to love on me because, something a lot of people don’t know, there isn’t a way for me to tell if you’ve read my blog, so reaching out always brings me so much joy! I haven’t wanted to post anything since the last entry because I was so happy with the outcome…but then I overcame something recently that I feel like people can relate to, so here goes.
Ya know that one person (or multiple people, I don’t know your life) that if you were to see him/her out in public, it would make your blood run cold. You probably immediately thought of someone, didn’t you? If their face were to show up against the background of your regular every day scenes, it would stop you in your tracks, make you lose all train of thought, and your only mission would be to find an escape route. Survival mode would kick in instantly.
Recently, I ran into the person who used to be that individual for me out of the blue. We didn’t speak, I don’t actually know for sure if they saw me. It was a surreal experience.
Used to, when I saw this person, I went from being who I am today, to feeling so very small, wounded, and insignificant. My body language would change, my personality would shift to exhibit defense mechanisms, and I would feel completely naked.
Whether for you that’s an ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-friend, estranged family member, co-worker, etc. - the pain may be complex and specific, but the culmination of emotion is the same: hate.
Not dislike. Dislike is something you feel about a person that you just don’t really care for. There’s a specific thing about their actions or personality you don’t approve of, but you only think of them if you physically see them or they’re brought up in conversation. They don’t haunt your thoughts or invade your peace.
Hate is different. Hate sneaks up on you.
A visual I think of for hate, is if I had a clear glass of pure water, and squeezed a single drop of red food coloring in it. Up first, it would only swirl just below the surface, but soon, it would permeate the entire glass.
I remember teachers and adults telling me not to use the word “hate” at all because it was “too strong.” However, have you counted how many times a day you use the word love? I’ll save you some time – too freaking many…but I digress.
We all know that among many other things, hate and love both involve complete consumption. They’re both an obsession, intentions/motives aside. But, that’s pretty obvious.
Another cliché we hear often about love and hate is that a very thin line separates them. For the majority of my life, I thought that the line represented something that the holder of my affection did to turn my love into hate, or vice versa. The line was something he/she did to wrong me, and then my only option was to redirect all of the love I had for that person into hate.
That’s why I couldn’t get over the line, because I didn’t know what it was.
The line has nothing to do with the other person. We draw the line. The line is full of unmet expectations we set that someone else didn’t live up to.
The line isn’t on the ground between us. I’m physically holding the line above the other person’s head while shouting, “REACH IT.”
Once I realized that my hate was actually a great deal of wounded love falling to the ground from high, unmet standards, it helped me let it go.
When I realized I was still holding out for the person who hurt me to change my hate back to love, when I realized I was still waiting for them to be a “better” person, then I realized that I was holding myself hostage to a desire that would never be fulfilled. I was living in the space between what that person was willing to give and the standard I’d set for them.
So, I let the love go.
This is a short post, but let me be very honest – it took me YEARS to get my hands dirty and physically pull all the disgusting, thick, layers of hate, anger, and rejection away from my heart to get back to the love I needed to dismiss.
Hate ruins people. It makes them incapable of having healthy relationships in their lives. It makes them unable to grow. It can even change their physical appearance. Hate was ruining my life.
I wasn’t trusting of new friendships and relationships. The standards I set for people got higher and higher because I felt more and more let down with every passing person in my life. I was building a mountain for myself to sit on that no one would ever be able to climb.
I’m embarrassed by what I allowed to grow in my heart. I’m ashamed of the amount of struggle I’ve been through because I couldn’t deal with experiencing disappointment from someone I loved deeply.
One reason it took me so long is because I could only pull back so much at a time. Have you ever pulled a weed that wouldn’t stop coming back? Then finally one day you took the time to make sure you excavated the entire root. That’s what was happening to me. I was pulling away the surface symptoms, but the roots were growing deeper and deeper.
The second reason it took me so long to let go is because I was completely determined that the other person was the one in the wrong. It was their fault. I wanted an apology more than I’ve wanted anything in my entire life – and I thought I deserved it. I thought an apology would set me free to move on. It would erase the line. I needed validation from the one who hurt me.
I lost a lot of battles in my war, but the other day when I saw the person face-to-face, I realized I’ve finally won.
I didn’t feel anything when I looked at them. I wasn’t scared or angry or sad. I didn’t feel the need to be right anymore. I didn’t need them to approve of me or love me. I didn’t need anything from them. I didn’t need them to be anything. I’d let them go, completely.
Just as slowly as the hate had crept into and surrounded my heart, it had finally disappeared. I had to go back to that pain over and over and deal with it one painful memory at a time, but finally, there was nothing left to justify. There was no righteousness left to exact.
I can’t put into bullet points for you how to get over the feelings of hate born out of deep broken love. However, this post is to encourage you from the other side of hate.
I physically looked into the face of the person who used to stir up such strong painful emotions for me, and I felt nothing. It is possible. I know how hard it is to keep going back to that pain over and over and you may feel like you aren’t making any progress, but I just want to remind you today that you ARE making a difference in your life. You are getting closer to having no pain left to return to. Leaving that pain untouched is actually giving it space to grow, change, and become even harder to get rid of. Keep digging. Being free of hate will change your life and relationships more than you know. Don’t give that person any more power over your heart.
Get past all the hate you feel, be brave enough to find and acknowledge the love left over, then let it go.