This past week, I had a conflict come up with my partner as we were going to sleep. I was feeling sad, and my sadness triggered his anger. He said something to that effect, and I was instantly triggered. A sentence rose in my mind, something along the lines of “I give you support when you feel sad.” Behind those words was the accusation that he didn’t do the same. I KNEW that speaking these words was absolutely in the wrong direction of NVC. I held this sentence in my body, willing myself not to speak it- but the energy of holding it in was excruciating, and it ended up squeaking out of my mouth. Of course, it went downhill from there. Throughout the next couple days, I kept returning to that moment where I had been thinking: ‘Don’t say it. It’s not going to help anything. It’s not NVC, and he’s not even in a place where he can listen.’ And somehow, I said it anyway. My prediction was that he would get even more angry, and my prediction ended up being correct. Why would I say it to him if I had known that it would only make things worse?
Gratefully, I didn’t berate myself for speaking that sentence. In the past I might have gotten upset with myself for “doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done”. Now, I can recognize that I clearly didn’t know that I shouldn’t do it- because I did do it. This means that part of me did in fact want to say it. Admitting that feels validating to a certain part of my consciousness. When I can recognize that part of me wanted to say this accusatory sentence, I can go deeper and find the underlying needs I had in that moment. I had already been feeling sad that evening; I was needing love and empathy. Then when he became upset, I felt anger and fear. My need for empathy became desperate, which triggered my old programming of ‘blaming’ to get what I want. In my highest consciousness, I know this program doesn’t get the results I want; however, it’s very ingrained in my unconscious mind that shaming equals control.
In that moment, I really needed empathy. I was so desperate for it that I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. I felt urgency around being heard and receiving validation. I resorted to unconscious behaviors. There was also an element of the situation feeling “unfair” that made me choose to “stick up for myself” (how I saw it in my mind) versus not say anything and try to stay connected. I see this as experience as taking action to try to meet my needs for empathy and respect. I celebrate those needs and my attempt to get them met, and I also mourn the unmet nature of my needs for integrity and respect. After I said the sentence, my partner felt threatened and left the room. I continued to lay in bed, and pretty quickly connected with myself and my true intentions for love and connection. I was able to soothe myself and after my partner did the same, we reconnected with shy smiles and apologies.
I’m grateful for this experience because next time I recognize that what I am about to say won’t be grounded in intention for connection, I can reflect on this experience and try to give myself empathy instead of seeking it externally. If it’s my need for respect that is in question, I can see that taking some space to be alone and soothe myself is the best action. It’s not often that I have the experience of wanting to say something accusatory and also know that it won’t be beneficial. I see this as a measurement of growth; I am becoming more conscious about the intention and effect of my communication.