Sunday, 16 February 2014
They've got into the habit of feeling hurt,and have lost the ability to be happy. They see everyone around them as potentially hurting them and are permanently on the defensive.
I remember one woman I worked with - let's call her Beth - who looked forever beaten-down and subdued, hurt leaking out of her like sweat, always waiting for the next wounding remark, always complaining about the way people treated her.
I never discovered why she felt so hurt, who had done what to her to fatally undermine her resilience and self-esteem. But the emotional damage, the crushed psyche, was plain to see.
It was hard to befriend her because she was so suspicious of people's intentions, so sure that sooner or later she would be treated badly yet again. All I could do was handle her as gently as possible and not do anything to confirm her suspicions.
I can recall several women who carried this strong sense of hurt, but I can't recall any such men. I'm sure there are men who have been hurt just as much but are conditioned to hide the hurt and not show any sign of it. They may be in acute emotional pain but they put on a sanguine demeanour that gives nothing away.
I'm sure my father was full of hurt, but he would never admit it. He thought it was okay to be angry, or jealous, or possessive - healthy masculine emotions - but hurt was strictly taboo. A feminine thing, something for cissies, something humiliating. He bottled it all up and thought we couldn't see it.
He went to his grave still hurting. Because he was too ashamed to tell us.