Maybe you can sense it and not explain it. Perhaps you perceive it when others don't. Something is a little off except it's not. Non-verbal emotion can display as conundrum. It can hide in plain sight. Respectful communication requires awareness.
I started out this post by remembering a couple of memories. At first remembrance, I felt anger and frustration, a bit of hurt and disappointment. It's painful sometimes to remember parts of the past. I walked away from the post for a while; did some other things; pondered which message I want to convey; how the memories could apply. Why remember a memory? To address it. It occurred to me that both of my memories have emotion in common. In both, I feel powerless and insignificant.
Brains go through patterns until they learn new patterns. A way to learn a new pattern is to look at something in a different way. Part of life is discover and assess. One of my foci right now is respectful communication. It's one of those goals that's lifelong, means many things, and offers somewhat ethereal benefit. It's grand.
20 years old. A partner's mother gives me a Christmas gift. It's a Dr. Hauschka skincare kit. I feel grateful and special. I am not often treated to a gift of that nature. In my excitement, I show the gift to my partner's younger sister. She is not excited. She displays dislike, anger. She is indirect with her expression. It is facial movements. It is change in breath. She later shows me a larger kit with more bottles than the one mine contains. She smirks at me and gives me a particular stare that says Haha. She tells me her mom sent it to her. I don't say anything because I am not sure what to say or whether anything is amiss.
Discover, assess! That memory shows me how I observed another human experience insignificance. She smirked at me and did not participate in my joy. She appeared to need more than what I had to feel good. She did not feel good inside of herself. She communicated in an indirect manner. I sensed that something was off because she did not verbalize her jealousy. I noted her actions rather than her words. My anger was a natural response to her indirect communication. I didn't say anything which means I didn't know whether or how to communicate my assessment. Neither one of us communicated in an open manner. I sensed that her behavior irked me, and I couldn't verbalize why. It was a confusing situation because she was my partner's sister, so I felt like there were different rules for her than for someone not related to my partner. From this memory, I can learn compassion for indirect communicators.
16 years old. Acne covers my face. I try to live with my dad and his new wife. It is my first attempt at life under one roof with my stepmother. I want to purchase a skincare product at a grocery store, and my stepmother tells my father it is too expensive. I feel disappointment. Later, I am in their restroom. I see that my stepmother purchased the skincare product for herself. My acne goes untreated.
I'm at a school with teens who drive expensive cars. I feel embarrassed to drive my truck to school. It looks less-than. I drive my dad's car for a while, relief in my brain because I kind of look like I fit. My dad suddenly tells me he needs to drive his car because my stepmom said he should, that I should drive my truck to school. Stepmom appears to delight in making sure that I do not get what I want. My dad ignores disagreements. He says to me, "Get over it," and then appears to give my stepmother everything she wants. He tells me about how I need to do things and doesn't offer any empathy or understanding for my situation. I move back in with my mother, and she asks me if I moved back to be closer to my boyfriend. I don't try to stand up for myself. What's the point.
Discover, assess! That memory shows me my relationship with my stepmom and parents after my dad's second marriage. I felt uncomfortable and helpless. My stepmother acted inconsiderate and my dad acted oblivious. My mother acted dismissive, and I felt adrift. It was unfair and stressful. None of us communicated well. We participated in the chaos either unknowingly or knowingly, or perhaps a mix of the two. From this memory, I can learn compassion for people who ignore problems, express jealousy, do not stand up for themselves.
Compassion is an excellent reason to remember.
Well hello there.