(Disclosure: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a professional or expert at anything I am about to say, simply my personal thoughts on a subject)
Has your husband every said something to you, nothing of any consequence, but because of the way he said it, you got upset? “You have a tone” you might say. I am pretty sure we all do it. Husbands, however, are safe. You are stuck with them forever regardless of what silly attitudes you might give them. Where I find the struggles arise, are women and their female friendships amongst each other.
I know so many women, including myself, who have been hurt, hurt someone else, or are just generally confused on the feelings of other women. I have come to realize a lot of things, many through trial and error, but this past year in my interpersonal communication class, we were taught that everyone has their own personal frame of reference. Due to everyone’s unique past and experiences, we each view things differently. For example, one person might consider the word ‘angry’ as no big deal, a daily word to express emotion. Another person, however, who was raised drastically different, might view the word ‘angry’ as very serious, the kind of word that is used when a friendship is on the rocks. The same word, yet with completely different meanings to each person. This can happen with so many things. We each have our own meanings for words, our own meanings for tones, and even for behaviors. I remember as a child my dad use to always tell cashiers that he was going to go home and beat us kids, then laugh. Well for some reason “beating” meant going home to play the tickle game. Basically the goal was to try and jump past my dad, and if you were caught, you got tickled. If you made it past, you danced in triumph! For years the term ‘beating’ was nothing major. To most other families, however, it could have meant something completely different and more severe.
What does this mean when it comes to our female friendships? I think it means we often think the worse when we really don’t need to. We all have our own pasts and histories that are just never brought into account, causing so much miscommunication. For example, in my life I have been through some extremely trying situations with my kids. As a foster parent and adoptive parent, safety as a family is much different than those with biological kids, everyone seems to have an opinion and several situations have put us in scary positions. Because of this past, something not everyone knows about, I react EXTREMELY sensitive to comments about my parenting, about our kids, or about our family. One wrong comment could cause me to close up and retreat back into a safety bubble. Not because I am mad at anyone or do not like them, but more of a protection mechanism. I was hurt badly and don’t want to hurt again.
Another common one for a lot of people is shyness. Many people automatically assume people are being rude or snobby because of lack of social interaction, when more often than not, that person is just shy! It does not necessarily reflect their personal opinions of any women involved in the current social situation! Another one I personally struggle with, all the time (and continually try to work on) is my confidence in friendships. Growing up we moved every year and a half, so all my relationships were short and did not go through the usual ups and downs that long term friendships went through. It messed me up pretty bad. Because of that, I now associate all the wrong things together. Not because I am crazy (at least I don’t think so), but because of my experiences. Now, if I ever think someone is mad at me, I automatically think they must not like me. If women in my social circles don’t invite me to things I assume they must hate me as a person. I am aware of this and try to consciously work through these feelings. How many other people are operating on similar frame of reference issues? How many people have I offended saying they look so big in their third trimester of pregnancy, because to me big means far along and a baby growing, but to them, big might mean fat? We automatically assume the meaning behind everything based on our own thoughts, and completely miss what is happening from the person sending the message in the first place. The result is a lot of drama between women.
At the end of the day though, especially in our Christian circles, I don’t think the majority of women are out there to intentionally hurt other women. I don’t believe we are all trying to hint at hidden meanings, or imply some downfall to each other’s way of doing things. Yes, these things do happen, but I don’t think it should be where we all go first when reacting to someone’s response or comments in life. We are all sisters in the Lord, and should be there for each other, not against each other, and I think we actually are more than any of us even realizes. Next time someone says or does something that hurts you, take a moment, and try to think of their real intentions or motives, and what hidden driving forces might be behind it all. These are just my personal, random thoughts, by someone who struggles A LOT with misconceptions. Just sharing my thoughts J