A few days ago, I got in a blowout fight with my on-and-off partner of the last two years. During this fight, I said, "You don't even want to connect with me at all." Later, in heated Facebook messages, he brought this up as one of the things I'd said or done that bothered him the most.
The day following the fight I was in the car with my mom, on the way to her place for Christmas. We were discussing (more aptly, complaining about and processing) the biggest trauma our family has seen in a long time- my aunt selling the family land, which, although she has the title to, was supposed to be available for my mom to live on permanently in lieu of the inheritance she signed off on. And, as of last summer, was supposed to be left to me. My aunt is selling, she says, because she has severe health problems and needs money to retire. In a recent letter to my mom, my aunt wrote that "you [my mom] don't care about my health at all". This part of the letter upset my mom more than almost anything else my aunt has said.
As soon as I heard my mom relay this, I began to draw parallels. In both cases, the speaker is desperately upset. In both cases, the statement is not entirely true. And in both cases, the person the statement is about is incredibly bothered by it. My mom and I do care about my aunt's health problems - but not as much as we would if she had come to us and asked us for help financially, instead of selling this precious property out from under us. Similarly, my (ex?)-boyfriend did express care for me, but was more focused on himself than helping me at the time.
I shared my thoughts with my mom, wanting her to philosophize with me, hoping that perhaps together we'd find some great revelation about life. But she was still focused on her frustration with my aunt, leaving me to mull it over myself.
I don't have any answers really, except to note this tendency (is it just my family? or is it a human thing?) to feel so desperate and empty that we exaggerate, in a sense, although in the moment it seems true, the lack of care we perceive from others. The only better option I see for myself, or my aunt (though I won't be telling her directly) is to do our best to stay present with our feelings and needs. It would be different, if my aunt or I had said instead, "I am hurting so much right now. I am really needing to be cared for, I am needing help taking care of myself!" I don't know how my mom or my (ex?)-boyfriend would have responded to my aunt and me, respectively, but I imagine it would have gone over a little better.
Hindsight is always 20/20 though.