Healing and Relationships

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”

Khalil Gibran

When we lose someone, something, or parts of ourselves, we experience an event that leaves us hurt and devastated. We give meaning to this loss and the events surrounding it. Healing is the process of resolving any negative thoughts, limiting beliefs, and lingering emotions that we developed around this loss.

We all go to great lengths to avoid feeling pain and hurt. Little do we know that this is a part of life, necessary for our growth and development. I experienced an opening of the mind through pain. It unlocked my creative side and opened my mind up to different ways of viewing life and relationships. Through my own pain, I became more sensitive to that of others, more compassionate and empathetic. That being said, as with everything else, we have to learn our lesson and know when to let go when the time comes. Dwelling on our pain hinders us from moving forward and building positive, healthy relationships.

If we do not release the negativity and toxicity conceived from a traumatic experience or a toxic relationship, we will continue to attract negativity and toxicity. This adds insult to injury. We will continue to repeat unhealthy patterns by dancing the same dance with different partners.

“Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn your lesson.”

Brigitte Nicole
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We have to take the time to do the work and heal from our past traumas.

Healing is often described as a process consisting of five stages:

  1. Grief and Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It may be helpful to break the process of healing into steps. This gives us insight into what is happening within us and what to expect. However, this gives the impression that we can take a step-wise approach to heal. The healing process does not follow a linear trajectory.

Trauma or a crisis can throw our lives into chaos. Taking an orderly approach to chaos can be counterproductive. Leaning into the chaos and bringing order to it may be a better approach. The difference is that the former is more tyrannical, and the latter approach more tolerant. I view healing as a tough, messy, zigzag pattern, predictable only to a certain degree and unpredictable in every other way. Sometimes, it feels like you are making progress, and sometimes it feels like you are back to square one.

My biggest mistake in my healing journey was to set a timeline on it. I sat down and did the math and decided that a reasonable time frame would be one year. So I marked the day on my calendar and proceeded to attempt to “fix” myself. Needless to say, that didn’t go quite as planned. The year went by, but the hurt was still there. The moment I accepted the hurt and pain was there to stay as long as needed to run its course is when I started healing. We have all heard that the acceptance stage is the most crucial, so some try to trick the system by claiming that we accept our situation. But alas, you cannot take shortcuts here. True acceptance comes from deep within, beyond our intellect. Moreover, as with any stage, acceptance is not a permanent stage. It might come in waves.

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The key to healing is to allow yourself to sit in your pain and let it do the work without becoming one with it. When the time comes, you have to let that pain go to make room for new emotions, experiences, and relationships.

This brings me to the next point. Should we be fully healed before starting a new romantic relationship? I believe that there are several downsides to bringing prior baggage into a new relationship. Jumping into a new relationship too soon is not recommended. When we are hurt, we are vulnerable, and it is easy to attract the wrong person and overlook their flaws when we are stuck in this energy. We might think we need a temporary fix to help get us through a difficult time, but we don’t realize that we could get attached to this person or stuck in a “situationship”.

Moreover, entertaining a romantic relationship with a new person may be a disservice to the new person when you are hurt. The fear of getting hurt again may hinder us from opening up to give and receive love. You are likely to pass the pain onto the new person unintentionally or sabotage the relationship.

“Hurt people hurt people. People hurt others as a result of their inner strife and pain.”

Will Bowen
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Now that I have made that clear, I would like to look at this from another angle. I believe that healing happens best in an accepting, judgment-free environment. Do you see how much pressure and judgment we put on ourselves when we say that we must be fully healed before allowing ourselves to love and receive love? It seems counterproductive because it implies we are not good enough as we are.

Is there a point at which we can say that we may be just healed enough to start a new romantic relationship? I think the answer lies in testing the waters. If we are not healed enough, we will attract similar partners. The relationship dynamic will serve as a mirror. We will see our “brokenness” reflecting at us as we interact with our new partner. The partner will also experience the same challenges. Sometimes the purpose of these relationships is to let us know where we stand in our healing journey.

Healing is our responsibility and no one else’s. However, I have found healing in open and honest communication too. I wonder if, when the time is right, maybe not perfect but, just right, we can explore a relationship with someone new. By being open, honest, and transparent, we give our new person a choice and a chance. Presenting ourselves as completely healed when we are not is deceitful. This is not the right foundation upon which to build a new relationship. On the other hand, letting a person know that you have come a long way but still have work to do in your healing journey may be an approach worth considering. I know that it is hard to be this vulnerable, but if the new person understands and is willing to be patient, you can continue to work on your healing within the relationship.

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