Many of us have been in relationships where we thought it was going somewhere, that this person added so much to our lives, and things were going incredible – until something threw it off course and completely destroy what you had created. Maybe it was a lot of lies, maybe it was drugs, maybe it was cheating, maybe it was all of it in different times, or maybe you woke up one day and the person you thought you knew, did a complete 180.
I’m not saying we are all innocent and that we never play a part, but usually there is some huge event that plagues the rest of the relationship until it is over.
Not always, by the way. Many seem to be able to work through these issues, but for those who don’t/can’t/won’t, both are left on the sidelines picking up the pieces.
And have I ever picked up the pieces in my life; More than I’d care to admit. It is a scary feeling, swept up in something only to find out in a few short years, you gave away all your power, everything you loved, what you had earned, pieces of you and your soul, little by little, until the entire relationship seemed foreign, and even you look like a shell of the person you were. It can happen very slowly and very subtle, but you learn to spot those red flags.
Or maybe, the more yourself that you became, the more the other person resented you or couldn’t be around you.
Or maybe, you got sick, or a chronic illness, and that extra stress is too much for the other to handle.
Or maybe, they acted the way you needed in order to “get” you, and once they “had” you, they stopped showing you affection, care, compassion and stopped listening.
Life gets messy, complicated, undoubtly hard – and we rely on those around us to support us, while we also support them in their times of need – or so we think.
No one tells you, that admist heartbreak, illness, chronic illness, death, you could also experience such apathy it makes you question how you could have felt so much love previously. Unfortunately, many only love when it is easy, stop talking when it gets hard, continue to push away and make decisions they know will destroy everything around them.
And when you’ve had enough, after so much talking and pleading, trying to rectify, getting self-care, you end up being the horrible person to everyone else for doing what is best.
And then, when someone comes along who seems almost too-good-to-be-true, I am sorry we may think so for quite awhile. The reason being, everything has been too good to be true. All of the “don’t worry we got this”, “I’ll never leave you”, “we will figure it out”, “I’d never hurt you” and all the great things people say when they think they mean it until you actually do have to figure it out and take ACTUAL action to fix a problem, not just ignore it for years and hope it goes away until it goes septic.
It isn’t you, we just have a hard time really seeing the truth, and let’s face it, we filter through our experiences and when I thought I was being ‘objective’ and ‘seeing clearly’ I wasn’t. And I will also be the first to say that treating anyone because of the past isn’t okay, but it will take anyone like me who has been through everything you can think of, awhile to fully start to believe 100% in all the easy things to say. It will take someone like me, alot of work (mostly on our end!), some reassurance and HONEST open conversations. Please listen and hear us. That is one thing that we may have never had – so please hear us FULLY without jumping in to fix. Hold space for us, just like we will for you in a heartbeat.
The best thing is to have heart to heart conversations. Explain the kind of person you are. SHOW the kind of person you are. Be THERE, be consistent, be YOURSELF. Don’t try to be what you think we want. If you are an affectionate person – BE THAT. Don’t try and deceive us. There may be a chance we don’t fit and that is OKAY because it is better to know now, then four years down the road.
By being yourself, by being consistent, by listening, caring and loving us, you will crack our ‘protective layer’ and come through our doubt. And that is exactly what it takes, is support, care, constistency, SHOWING UP to the hard things, SHOWING UP to the important things. Taking a real hard look within yourself when someone tells you their expectations in a relationship – can I really fulfill that? I don’t mess around when it comes to dating. I don’t care for the bullshit most try and pull – and when you have three very simple and I would have thought EASY values to be in a relationship, who knew that most who would be okay with that are those who have problems in those areas?
We all have different boundaries of what we will and will not accept in a relationship and although some may mean well – they agree to things beyond them.
When you have been through many heart breaks, it can be very overwhelming to meet someone who actually is honest. Who actually carries the same values. Who actually wants to be affectionate and spend time with you. If you’ve been beaten down before, to have someone lift you up can be extremely uncomfortable. To go from not being seen at all, to having an amazing person take notice, is UNCOMFORTABLE, but doesn’t mean we want you to stop. And if we did we would say so!
Just keep in mind, it takes awhile to get used to a normal, healthy relationship after enduring trauma. Also remember, you are not here to fix us, nor can you – you also can’t heal us or do the work for us. It is up to US, and yes we must do it, but what we need (and what we also offer in return) is feeling supported, heard, and loved. We don’t need to be fixed, because our experiences have shaped us into the person you have come to know and adore. We also don’t want to fix you. We want to support you and your growth much the same. If we have things to work through, we can do it together through other means, but we can’t step into the ‘fix it’ roles or rescuer roles because that would mean one of us would have to play the victim.
Find out our love language. Find out YOUR love language. Work together on how to ensure both of our languages are met in a healthy way. Be VULNERABLE and OPEN, despite how hard that may be. I’ve had to swallow my pride and do my own work, and partners should be able to do the same. No one is perfect, we can all learn how to be more emotionally mature and find tools to negate any old behaviours or patterns.
When you learn about our past – if it changes your view on us in a negative way, then you need to go on alone and work through your judgements. No one should ever be seen as less than because of experiences they have had. I know there are experiences in some of my ex’s past I wish I had seen as something that would rear its head eventually. Sometimes it can be red flags if they have not done any work to deal with it. When someone doesn’t see a problem with a problem and will justify it to no end, it isn’t gone. It will never be gone. They can try and run and hide, but as soon as things get rough they will go back to their escape methods. You can love someone with your entire heart, but they will still choose that over you. They will still never feel comfortable with talking to you, because it is more comfortable and safe to be numb. And that’s okay – but it is truly up to them and not you. You can’t force anyone to get help, to change old patterns, there has to be a time where they finally see it for what it is.
No one is perfect, but to be imperfect, aware and willing to work on what the old habits and patterns are, to grow WITH someone, to talk and be open when it is uncomfortable, to not shut others out or think this is “stupid new age crap”, takes alot of effort, self security and awareness. We have all been through some trauma, and even if you haven’t, there are experiences that shape us. There are experiences that allow us to be compassionate with another.
This doesn’t mean we enable any bad behaviours, but we may point out where someone is hurting and ask “how can I help? Would you like to discuss it? Can we go for a walk? Do you want me to come to your next doctor appointment/counselling appointment etc?” and believe me, if someone is trying to be helpful yet you can’t see it and keep melting down and blaming them, that is another sign that something is triggered beyond the situation and it needs to be addressed. Having active emotional charges is real, but doesn’t excuse abusive behaviour either. It isn’t easy to be honest with ourselves, it isn’t easy to see the pain and hurt that may have happened, but with the right trained professionals, we can move forward and accept the love and happiness we deserve.
We also have to be aware of our patterns, and if our partner notices them, to lovingly express “I’ve noticed ________, and I feel __________ in this situation. What can we do to work through this together? If you’ve never used non-violent communication – Check it out here.
If you haven’t thought about it or heard it today, yes YOU, you DESERVE LOVE. You DESERVE to be happy. You are NOT your circumstance, your past, you’re not your story. You have the ability to work through it, there is support everywhere even if you do not have it within your family or even friend circle.
If you’re been through heartbreak, any type of illness, death, trauma, you are NOT broken. You can get back to having a fulfilling life, many of us think that isn’t possible, but it is.
Resources for help: https://adultchildren.org – Adult children of alcoholics and dysfunctional families. suicidepreventionlifeline.org, trinitysage.ca for help with active emotional memories, emdrcanada.org