One of the most frustrating and helpless feelings I have ever experienced is being misunderstood with no way to fix it. No matter how much we try to communicate, and no matter how much we try to be ourselves, sometimes our inner workings are too different from each other to truly see the ground floor of someone. Through the years, it has become easier for me to accept because I have been graciously gifted with a handful of people that can see through to the core of who I am. I know that not everyone is so lucky, and some personality types suffer more than others. It truly grieves me to think about those women who feel like no one sees them.
It is safe to say that I have spent a lot of my life feeling misunderstood. I know that it is developmental in a way for young people, but there has always been this lingering, nagging feeling inside of me that people cannot see my heart. I have always longed to be known and understood. I have always craved understanding, for someone to just know what makes me tick. No explanations needed. No buffers or disclaimers. No fear. But we are all just humans. We are not perfect, and there are a few things I have learned that have kept me afloat when, for whatever reason, someone’s eyes are closed to my heart.
Ground Yourself In Truth
Being misunderstood leaves us feeling insecure. When someone looks at you with judgment or assumption, it is so easy to feel unloved. As people, we hunger for love in a very deep way and being denied it can shake us to our bones. It can leave us defensive, overly sensitive, and confrontational. Or many times, it can leave us just plain sad. It is important to own that feeling, but respond to it with truth. You don’t have to believe it right away, but when you constantly remind yourself of what is real: that you have worth, value, and deserve to be loved for who you are, eventually it will begin to sink in. If you feel like you can’t do it, go to a trusted loved one that you know will. Ask them to lay it on you so that you can hear it from somewhere. There is no shame in asking for a little love when the world is trying to twist your mind.
Let It Go
At some point, everyone will find herself in a situation in a relationship that is truly unfair. Accusation will fly, deception will creep in, and pride will rear its ugly head. In those moments, it is worth fighting for truth, but we have to have the wisdom to know where the line is. And we must know that ultimately, it is not our job to defend ourselves. We will not always be able to correct a wrong perception or explain until understanding comes. There are times when you have to open up your hands and let it go. That means letting someone perceive you in a way that you know is untrue. I have been in many situations where I eventually have to let an offensive comment go because I know I won’t be able to convince the person to see me for who I know I am. I have also made the mistake of fighting too hard for justice when it will never come. In letting go, we have to also let go of our own offenses and remember the times that we have done the same to others. Holding on to the hurt and building resentment against someone who does not understand you is not only counterproductive; it makes your heart feel sick.
Be And Stay Real
Look in the mirror. Get honest. It’s not all flowers and butterflies in there, is it? Part of being understood is not just being known for the goodness inside of you. If you really want to be seen you will have to be real about the things you are not proud of as well. When we are confronted with something we feel is not justified, the first question we ask ourselves has to be, “Is this true?” Sometimes it will be and sometimes it won’t be. We have to consider it and let it roll around inside of ourselves before we gear up for war. Sometimes it may be helpful to ask for another outside perspective. Being misunderstood can also create a tendency for us to be closed off. Don’t let the pain of misunderstanding and loss make you hide who you are. It takes a lot of courage to commit to being yourself when who you are has not always been appreciated.
If you are lucky enough to be the steward of friendships that give you the room to be transparent, be sure to return the favor and celebrate the people you care about. If you want unconditional love, you will have to give it. If you want to be seen, you will have to see, for yourself. If you want to be safe in relationships, you will have to create a safe place for others as well. Be more concerned about being free from anger than about getting justice, and you will have the opportunity to not only live it, but also teach it.
Artwork via Darling Issue 1 by Marshall Roemen.