I don’t consider myself a relationship expert. In fact, I am far from it. I’ve had more failed relationships than not. And I’ve spent a great quantity of time trying to heal from heartache. One particular break up actually, really rocked me when it was over and I struggled for quite awhile to believe in my “destiny” of being someone who “gets to be in a relationship.”
Maybe being single was just my path?
I’ll spare you the details on that part of my history. There is a time for storytelling but this is a different moment.
What I do want to share is the things I’m starting to learn and understand, as I have now entered into a new relationship.
First off, before I dive into that. I need to say. Bless this new guys heart. He has SO much patience for me, and really allows me to hurt, when and if I need to hurt. He hasn’t taken any of it personal and has really accepted that I have a past, which he won’t blame me for. He rides the waves of emotions and meets me on dry land each and every time I am ready.
Patience is really his thing.
Lucky me, to be able to have such support in my healing.
And the thing about healing, is that there is no recipe or step-by-step instructions to begin, in order to get to the other side. You just sort of have to move through it. The thick and shittiness of it all.
There are a few things that have come up for me, that I’ve realized as I am beginning this new path. Maybe you are experiencing ups and downs too but are making yourself wrong for many of them. Well, knock that shit off. Your process of change and healing is exactly that. YOURS. It doesn’t need to be painfree or look like a Hollywood romantic comedy, for it to be okay or for it to be working. Yours is yours.
Here are some of my shares and lessons. Maybe you can relate.
The healing doesn’t just come to a stop when you meet someone new.
From my experience, just because I am entering into a new relationship – slowly and cautiously – doesn’t mean that the healing of the past relationship was finished and complete. There is still a ton of healing that bubbles to the surface randomly and surprisingly, asking for attention.
I use to think I might get into a new relationship if and when the past love never crossed my mind, when there was complete forgiveness, or when there was no more hurt in my heart.
I was wrong about that.
I know now that learning to open your heart up to new love can be (and is for me) a part of the actual healing process. For me, having another human being there to show me new ways to smile or to make new memories with, that’s a part of my healing.
What I’ve also come to realize is that it is a fine line to walk, to be careful we do not simply throw ourselves into a new relationship, to avoid the hard work of addressing the parts of yourself which are wounded and or need to change.
Distraction is not what we want here. Healing is. And sometimes that healing is aided through the loving heart of someone else.
As one of my favorite author, Brene Brown says, we are wired for connection. In other words, we NEED other people.
Which means, sometimes we join hands with someone new, as we heal the hurt of someone old.
There are plenty of pains which might still come up: you get sad when you hear a old song that takes you back in time, you get lost in thought when you hear the old loves name and start to wonder what they are up to, you get angry that they seem to have moved on effortlessly… all of that (and so much more) is natural.
What I’ve learnt is to not stuff down what comes up. Stuff it down, and that means it is still there to come up in the future. Don’t fight it when it shows up to be healed. Let it show up. Feel what there is to feel and own that emotion. Don’t let it own you.
Are you mad at your ex still? Are you jealous of how they so easily moved on and seem perfectly happy? There is nothing wrong with what you feel. The key though, is to not sit heavily in it, or make that who you are. The key is to notice… “I’m feeling resentful” not “I’m resentful.” What you are feeling is a feeling. Not a part of your personality or make up.
And know that a feeling, like a thought, can be changed. Choose to notice what you feel, and then choose to acknowledge that there is some part of you that is still healing. Whether you know how to heal it or how long it will be there, this does not matter. All that matters is that you be kind to yourself the way you would be kind to a young child, and with that patience and compassion. All healing can take place with time and compassion.
You still need time alone.
Just because new love can be exciting and fresh, does not give you a free pass from working on yourself and being with YOU. Here’s the thing about life. Lovers will come and go. But there is one person you must go to bed with every night of your life…
And you – whatever version of you that is currently present and here – needs nurturing. Attention. Love. Respect. Time. I promise you that you can be a better lover and partner to your new hunny bunny, if you devote time to yourself.
Maybe you work out, read a book, go for a walk, spend time with your dog… there needs to be a daily devotion to your own heart, with no distractions. You cannot fill another’s cup from an empty well. Fill your well first. Then giving to others is so much easier.
Comparing is natural.
How you love now or were loved before may not be the same. People show love differently. You, most likely, have grown. Expanded. Collapsed and put yourself back together differently.
Maybe there is a difference to who you are now, as well as between the old and new relationship. Maybe the person you are now dating shows affection in a completely different way then you are use to.
Just know that comparing, initially, is natural. I wouldn’t recommend this as a long-term habit, but I don’t believe you should beat yourself up or feel guilty about how your mind tends to place both loves, past and present, side by side and compare them.
The book, The Five Love Languages, is an amazing, easy read for gaining insight and learning to understand how folks show love and affection differently. If you are starting a new relationship, I encourage you to take this knowledge and power with you as you enter in. You will look at your new partner in crime differently and you will begin to understand which love language they speak and how they understand acts of love and affection. Which will ease how you compare the past and present lover.
Bonus to this: my bet is you may even think back to your old lover and find new compassion and understanding for them and what they were showing you in your past relationship. Ahhh… so good. More healing enters into your heart. Another step in the right direction.
New is fine and dandy, but there is no rush.
Don’t rush through your pain. Don’t rush through the dating. Don’t rush through to your happily ever after. It all matters. All the beginning stuff matters. All the pain and the recovery matters.
Another one of my favorite authors and girl power leaders, the queen love warrior herself, Glennon Doyle Melton says, “Pain is a traveling professor and it goes and knocks on everyones door. The smartest people I know are the people who say, come in and don’t leave until you have taught me what I need to know.”
Learn from your pain. Don’t rush it out the door. Don’t move through the conversations with it quickly, to avoid feeling what there is to feel. It sucks and it hurts, I know. Trust me, I know. But rushing away from what hurts keeps you from learning what there is to learn. For every sucker punch we take from life, from all the heartache we endure, there is a lesson to learn. If you rush through your pain, you won’t get the lesson. And just like in grade school, if you fail, you repeat.
If you don’t want to do this pain game again, do the work now and learn what there is to learn. Don’t rush.
Honesty – with yourself – is key.
Are you ready for new love? Does your partner know your past? Is it necessary for the evolution of your heart, soul and new relationship that anything old to be addressed or shared?
This is only something you can know. You have to be honest with yourself about where you are at, and what matters going forward.
Here’s what I know for sure.
The quality of your relationships should improve as you move through life. You should learn from each past love, what you want and what you don’t want, and you should make better choices for your next relationship.
The point is to grow and do better for yourself. Not to repeat the same relationship over and over, in different forms of lovers.
I can say for sure, that the quality of men I have dated and been in relationships with, has absolutely improved over time. I am not willing to do the same relationship and same problems and issues, over and over, with each man. For me, each lesson or each issue that chipped away the trust or foundation of the relationship and myself in the past, is addressed and learnt from, for the present. I have chosen to share certain things with my new guy, regarding what was not right in the past relationships. I do this not so I can relive the pain or make him feel bad for me, but so I do not repeat history, so he can hold me accountable and so together, we can make better choices.
With honesty, you free yourself and your new partner up. You do not unconsciously hold them responsible for mistakes from past relationships. Its all laid out on the table, and you can see – together – what might have been past issues and triggers, so going forward, problem solving can be quickly accomplished with out blame, hurt and frustration.
But it takes getting real with you first.
You can’t be afraid to own the story.
Be real and raw and afraid or nervous but don’t hold back. What I mean by this is you’re going to experience more, feel more, grow more, inspire more, if you really own what is going on for you.
What does it mean to “own” how you feel and to “own” your story?
It means you are not apologetic for your feelings. It means you are truthful – to yourself first and then to others – about what you are feeling. It means you take responsibility for how you are reacting to a situation or event, rather than blaming it on the outside source. You own it. It doesn’t own you.
You own how it went and you own how it will go.
Your story is yours. When you own what was, you can create a beautiful new ending and be in full responsibility for that.
And nothing feels better than living an amazing life, on purpose, that you can take credit for.
I know that as I grow and move through this new relationship, that there will be plenty more lessons for me to learn, plenty more hidden beliefs and hidden pains to uncover and chip away at. Which is exciting and scary all in one. But I’m willing to do the work. And I’m willing to heal the past. And live more fully and presently in the now.
What could be better than that?
May your healing be empowering…