The relationships in our lives shape us into the people we are. Many people endure trauma from unhealthy relationships, be it romantic, familial, work-related, or platonic friendships, they all affect us. I talk about grief a lot and the more I talk to people, the more I realize how many people are grieving past relationships AND current.
It’s common to discuss the issues we face while grieving the loss of a relationship. But what happens when you’re in the relationship and grieving? When you realize that the person, you’re in a relationship with is no longer a match for you or isn’t who you thought they were? That’s hard.
What happens when you realize that a family member you love so much is toxic for your life? Or that friend betrayed you. Or that person you planned to marry doesn’t love you anymore or vice versa but they're still in your life so you have to see them regularly, knowing that things aren’t the same.
They say that time heals all wounds, but I have to disagree. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, addressing your wounds and processing your emotions does. Alot of people never address their issues and think because time has passed, they’re okay. Let me tell you something, your body and subconscious remembers the pain no matter how much you force it away.
It makes me think about people who go from romantic relationship to romantic relationship, never taking a chance to be alone. I’ll add in situationships as well (you’re technically not together but you operate as if you are). Consider why you need to constantly be occupied with someone? Do you even like those people or are you just lonely and seeking attention?
I’ve gone on dates with people and was amazed by how many of them started talking to me about the trauma they went through with past partners UNPROVOKED. And I’m thinking “sweetie you’re clearly not over your ex, why are you dating?” If you’re bringing up your ex 15 minutes into our first date… you haven’t healed from that past relationship. If you think that ALL men or ALL women are the same, you’re not healed yet. To be clear I acknowledge that healing is a journey but severe trust issues and resentment from past trauma is no way to start any relationship of any kind. Some things you simply have to address before bringing other people into the picture.
I can tell if someone has healed by what they choose to talk about and how they choose to talk about it. When you’re healed the conversations are different. You’re not assuming that everyone has it out for you and no one can be trusted. You’re not immediately looking for flaws in people. Yes, be cautious, yes be vigilant, yes pray for discernment but living in fear of friends, family, and romantic partners hurting you, is a miserable way to live.
I heard a quote that said, “Did they let you down or did you put them up too high”.
Often, we get upset with others for not being or doing what we desired, only to realize that they were actually being who they’ve always been. Being who they ACTUALLY are, not what we imagined them to be. And just like they have the choice to do what they want; we have the choice to decide if they are supposed to be in our life or not. Or perhaps they need a different “role.” Maybe, as the quote states above, we’ve cast them for a role that they are unqualified for.
In my book, Getting to Okay, I discuss some of the disappointments I’ve had with dating, friendships, etc. I think that sometimes we as humans naturally want to see the potential in people. So much that we see it before they do. However, in any relationship, you have to love people where they are and for who they are at THAT moment. Not for what they could be and not for who you desire them to be.
So, let’s do an exercise. Take a moment to take inventory of the people in your life. Note who brings you joy and who does not. Is there anyone you need to cut ties with? Is there someone you want to keep in your life but can no longer keep them at their current role? Are their past relationship traumas you haven't worked through? I encourage you to grab a journal and work through these questions. Take a hard look at your emotions attached to these people and issues. When doing this you have to remember as I stated above that people are who they are. It’s not your responsibility to change them, nor should you. But it is your responsibility to decide how you allow them to be in your life and at what capacity.
If you would like to dive deeper and work on healing and processing your past trauma, I highly suggest you consider my book: Getting to Okay or my workbook, The Healing Workbook: 30 Days of Healing. In these books I tell my personal story of healing and give you practical ways to heal from your trauma.