Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Use Your Words

I’m always telling David and Katherine to use their words (instead of whining and screaming), but I’m often afraid to use them myself. Unlike Eric, who vocalizes a resentment before it’s had time to fester and start a family, I hate confrontation so much that I’ll befriend the resentment–dress it up, take it out on the town, hang out with it for years–anything to avoid conflict.

On some level, I fear that any conversation of substance will end the same way as the one I had with my dad almost two decades ago–when I conjured up the courage to tell him how hurt I was that he missed my high school graduation. (He was golfing.)

He responded defensively. “Of all the things I’ve done for you,” he said, “you have to concentrate on that?”


I tried one more time, a year later, to tell him I wanted a better relationship with him. Newly sober, I was struggling with all the drinking in our family.

“Dad,” I asked, “would it be possible for you not to drink around me?”

He followed through–by excluding me from family trips, where my sisters and he bar-hopped all night.

If I were an emotionally healthy, chemically-balanced woman, I might have let go of my hurt long ago. I certainly should have cremated it with my father’s body when he died. But I’m an extraordinarily sensitive manic depressive with an excellent memory and a hearty menu of issues.

Part of my recovery has been to not look back so often, and to become more assertive in communicating my feelings because depression is anger turned inward (at least at some level).


It’s not easy. Because when you use your words, you learn a lot about a person and his priorities–you invite responses that are downright ugly and difficult to hear.

But silence isn’t the solution–not if you want to keep your cortisol (the stress hormone) levels low. The trick is using your words with absolutely no expectation of what kind of response you’ll get (yeah right). You say them for the sake of expressing them, not for anything you hope to hear. If that’s at all possible.

  • http://HASH(0xcfce02c) PharmaGirl

    Wow-That’s tough with your dad. I know you say you’re not balanced yet but it definitely seems otherwise to me. You approach this all with such a healthy attitude–I aspire to get my life together as well as you have. Thank you!

  • http://HASH(0xcfce350) Annette

    You touched on the big hurdle of not looking back at the hurt. Letting go with forgiveness is the only answer I’ve found that works for me. I think about the fact that whom ever has caused my pain, did so out of ignorance. Whether it be from lack of knowing a better way of behaving or lack of acknowledging their own demons. I’d rather forgive that ignorance, than let the fact that another person doesn’t know the right thing to do, impact my life negatively. It’s easier said than done but with faith I’ve been able to practice forgiveness in my life today. I don’t want to give away my power to what I can’t change now!

  • http://HASH(0xcfce9a8) Kitten

    Letting go is the beginning, but I find even more useful is to use all those things as seeds for the garden you really want to flower around you, sort of like a compass of what is good and right, because now you have learned so much about what can hurt and harm. It is truly rare that someone acts not out of love or with the best skills they have at the time. Loving and forgiving, and then growing and spreading joy. It is the challenge of the situation, and will you take up the right challenge when the situation presents itself to you? That’s how I try to see these junctures of potential conflict, a challenge to find more good and more love.

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