Have you ever wondered why something you said or did triggered a negative reaction from a friend or loved one? I don’t mean the kind of intentional teasing or ribbing that you honestly know they don’t like but you do anyway. I’m talking about the stuff that feels like it popped up from way left field and leaves you feeling like you’re walking on eggshells and utterly confused…
Friend, you’ve likely encountered an invisible battle scar.
These battle scars can have all kinds of shapes, sizes, locations, vibrations but one thing they have in common is that they stem from a past hurt and can still have the power to derail things in the present.
The tough thing is, it’s hard to know you’re up on one until you’re knee deep in the middle of it so I’m going to share a few of my personal go to’s for how to navigate the situation once you know it is upon you.
1. Absolutely don’t blow it off with a “Oh they just trippin’!”
Everyone has the right to feel how they feel. When we care for others it should matter to us when they are hurting or in distress. That said, it is not our responsibility to “fix” our loved ones. But it absolutely won’t help the situation if we try to write off or ignore the signs of battle scars.
2. Retreat, if appropriate, and make sure you’re able to re-engage from a place of calm.
This one is hard, take it from a recovering fixer. When someone I love is hurting I have been guilty of rushing into the field of battle to help them without covering my rear and the results have at times been disastrous! You know how the airline stewardess makes the announcement before takeoff to secure your mask before assisting others.
Yeah, that part.
Having a loved one bite your head off and not knowing or understanding where that reaction came from can hurt. Been there, done that. It is so important that you pause and not react in a manner that might make things worse.
3. Really put yourself in the shoes of your loved one and see if there was a better way for you to approach the topic or scenario that revealed the scar.
Remember that part I mentioned about teasing? Yeah, not everyone enjoys being ribbed in public. Some people really don’t enjoy April Fool’s Day.
IT’S Me! I am people!
If you know someone you care for is sensitive about being teased in public, the sensible and compassionate thing to do is NOT DO IT! I see it happening all the time with people I know and if you watch carefully you can often see when a person is fed up and poised to fight back.
4. Listen, really listen to your loved one and resist the urge to quick fix or invalidate their feelings related to the scar.
Know that this might be something very challenging for them to talk about and they might not even want to talk to you about it. You can’t nor should you force your loved some to talk about any or everything. However, you can show yourself as available to your loved one to speak deeply on sensitive subject matter and let him/her know that you won’t judge them nor take off running for the hills.
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a few tools at your disposal like the ones I just mentioned. Sometimes more professional help is needed to work through past trauma. There are many options available now like Talkspace or BetterHelp that you can use or that you can gently recommend to a friend or loved one. Navigating battle scars can be challenging but it’s worth the time and energy for the ones we hold close to our hearts.
Marta is an award winning filmmaker, writer and producer committed to sharing the rich and complex stories of America’s Heartland region. Marta wears several hats as Chief Creative-in-Charge of MartaGwyn Productions, LLC as well as the Co-Founder and Senior Grant Writer of Youngblood and Associates, LLC and Chief Operations Officer of Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services, LLC.
Marta is also the founder and editor-in-chief of TheWRITEaddiction. An online community of writers that publish creative and inspirational works daily at www.TheWriteAddiction.com.
Marta is an alumna of The Ohio State University and Tougaloo College with degrees in Sociology and English-Journalism and resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and unconventional college sweetheart of 10 years, Terrance Youngblood.