My neighbor says really funny stuff sometimes. I laugh and enjoy that part of his personality. Sometimes he says words, expresses ideas that are racist and sexist. At first, I felt offended by his callous displays of humanity. Over time, I've felt less offense because I've begun to understand his dearth of compassion. That, and sometimes I say to his face that he's saying racist or sexist comments. Woo, go me!
The guy can be quite fun. My partner and I hang out with him and his friends, play street golf, chat about the weather. Then he'll say something completely outlandish like, "You know you want to be with women." That one's from yesterday. He drinks a lot. As in, blackout time. We ate dinner with him about a week ago, and he didn't remember it yesterday when I brought it up. I enjoy social drinks with him, casual fun. And he also says stuff that offends me. I don't know what to say to him about this. I suppose I could try, "I feel offended when you say that to me." Seems simple, right? Ack. Then why this anxiety in my stomach when I consider it.
Maybe because of past life experiences around speaking about myself. When I told my mom and dad about things that hurt me, they either didn't believe me (dad) or laughed (mom). I experienced a lot of disconnection in my earlier life, a lot of tension and neglect on an almost-imperceptible level. So now I'm friendly with the neighbor guy, and I feel some anxiety about speaking to him about my internal experiences when I am around him. I don't want him to hurt my feelings, kinda.
If I say, "I feel offended," when he says something I find racist or sexist, that's ok. Regardless of what he says to me in response, I've made myself clear.
It's kind of like I think he wants to offend me, so I don't want to say, "I feel offended when I hear your words." Even if he wants to offend me, so what. When I say I feel offended, it's not to benefit him. It's to benefit me. I can stay silent after I say it. I don't have to explain why I feel what I feel or where I'm headed with a statement about my feelings.
I don't want to hate the neighbor guy or completely cut him out of my life. He's a human who expresses statements. I feel offended after his words are uttered into the atmosphere. I can say, "I feel..." an emotion and then breathe deeply and stay connected with that part of me that wants me to speak. I'll know what to say or not say when I stay connected with deep breaths.
Well hello there.