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Innocence or Ignorance?

I am going to make three points that I think all matter in dealing with comments like this:

1). The work to understand if it is someone’s ignorance or innocence can also be costly. This is a decision that the person on the receiving end decides on how (if) they want to respond:

A few questions to ponder:

  • Do you have the capacity to hold space for someone else who does not understand what these relational dynamics are like?
  • Is your hope to get them to understand? Is that realistic? What will that cost?
  • How does holding space for them feel? There is no right or wrong answer, only your right or wrong answer.

2). People project all day, every day. It’s awful. I was on a professional call recently that had been set up for over a month. The person asked how I was and I shared that I was great and so thankful to have recently recovered from covid and pneumonia.

They proceeded to tell me that it was best that I got it so I could stop living in the fear of getting it (which I didn’t) and what vitamins to take. They spoke for ten more minutes about me having covid, and none of it had to do with me.

It is a shock to the system how unaware people are. Things like unsolicited advice and/or opinions are coming from a lack of self-awareness.

Have you ever received unsolicited advice in the midst of being hurt that you enjoyed? Right.

Why do people do this?

Because they do not want to connect with your reality. They live in default mode, and have limited availability for anyone else’s experience. There is certainly innocence in this, and this is often not meant to be harmful, but what they do not see is that they are relating someone else’s vulnerability to their lack of awareness. That’s why it feels icky.

3). A few statements you could make:

  • I turned out how I turned out based on the work I’ve done that has gone unnoticed. I did not arrive here without carrying a significant burden.
  • What would your response be if I didn’t turn out so well? Would you have more concern about the impact of what I have experienced?
  • “So well” is relative.

Without responding with judgment or harshness, I would try to make an assessment on whether or not there is an outcome that you can contribute to that helps you or others.

Often, there isn’t and this is where a lot of people lose time and intention.

Someone who lacks self-awareness does not have less value in humanity as someone who is self-aware. But, they deserve less input in how you overcome hardship and/or having access to the tender parts of your story.

It is beautiful to get to a place where statements like this are clearly about the messenger.

That is really tough to get to, but when you do, there is a lot of freedom in being able to say, “This has nothing to do with me,” and shed the talk.

There is also beauty in being someone who is open to the innocence in others who lack awareness with the hopes of giving them a safe place to be curious. This can be an unwrapped gift for all involved if the invitation is accepted–growth, too.

I’m sorry you have ever heard these words. I shared this question because I believe most people who have gone no contact have heard similar statements. I know it sounds odd, but it truly has nothing to do with you. I know, I know. It feels deeply personal–wounding even. But, projection isn’t personal.

A few things I would like you to hear:

  • I’m so sorry you know the pain of going no contact. The amount of pressure to present a different story for other people’s comfort is really tough to navigate.
  • I can’t imagine the decisions you had to make and the sacrifices to come to that place. I hope you always keep some gentle space for that part of you. Always let them remind you of their presence, their sacrifice, their loss.
  • I do hope you are “so well.” And, I hope you have a gentle plan for the days you pretend you are, when you’re not.

All of it matters.

I’m so glad you all are here!


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