We’re always in some state of rebuilding, aren’t we? Whether you call it recovery, repair, or personal growth, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is recognizing that change plus the ebbs and flows of life and the human heart are constant, a dance that we forever strive to perfect. And then, once we think we have it all figured out, it’s almost as if we are given another test, obstacle, or heart-opening event to remind us that we are after all, imperfect. I think it is in the acceptance of this truth that we have ultimate freedom.
Whether your relationship ended one year, one month, or one day ago and whether or not you’ve immersed yourself in a new one, we all seem to have residual leftovers from our past. We can get lost in the sea of “working on things”. No matter the length of the relationship that scarred you, there is no magic recipe or agenda as to what the appropriate timeline is to your repair. Time does not dictate the connection nor to the extent to which your heart has opened up.
So if time isn’t the answer, what is? Will you ever meet someone new? People who have been through ultimate pain are able to love again. I remember being devastated for almost two years after a breakup in my early 20s and thinking I would never meet anyone else. Much to the dismay of my family, the echo of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” could be heard from my room for ages, and yet, I moved on to have had many great relationships that have each been unique and fulfilling.
So how did I step out of my bat cave and learn to love again? When starting over, there are two things that are very important. One, we need to make peace with our past and be able to reframe its meaning in our life. And two, we must get to a place where we are feeling love for ourselves and honouring where we’re at this moment and what we need at this particular given time. I’ll explain both.
“Your past is not your future unless you live there.”
In order to reframe and be at peace with our past, we have to learn what we can from our previous relationships. It is very easy to fall into the same story of, “how can I move forward when he/she”:
“Cheated on me”
“Took me for granted”
“Neglected my needs”
“Lied to me”
the list goes on…
Notice one pattern in all of these statements? They are the victim mindset. “The world happens to me.” As humans, we naturally default to this state when we’re hurt and it allows us to project the blame onto someone else. It’s ok to be hurt and sad for a while, just don’t unpack and camp there. In order to move forward, you need to see your past relationships as life lessons. It doesn’t mean that your ex wasn’t a bitch or an asshole. What it means is that the name calling no longer matters and that someone that once cheated, lied or neglected us can offer a lot of insight into how we show up to relationships. Those behaviours are not usually the first signs of trouble. We tend to receive many warnings that we choose to ignore. So how do we reframe our past to be a positive experience? How do we find lessons in the hurt?
Grab a piece of paper and answer the following:
- When you think about previous partners, the thought of them either feels heavy or light. Write down the names of those that make you feel heavy.
- What was is it about those relationships that make you feel heavy? Write out everything that comes to mind. You are in a state of clearing, so don’t hold back.
- What was your role in the relationship that enabled this? Could you have honoured your boundaries better? Could you have communicated your concerns in a more effective way? Should you have walked away earlier? What was the turning point? Did you follow your intuition?
- What were the best parts of the relationship?
When I did this exercise, it was very therapeutic for me. I wrote it all down and then strapped on my running shoes and went for a run and one by one, I forgave them for any hurt, apologized for the role I played, and thanked them for their contribution to who I am today. There are so many lessons in our past, but they only become lessons once we’ve learned to remove the emotional attachment and blame from our memories, so that we can process the event from a space of awareness and then forgive. When you stop reliving your old story, you can start living a new one.
The reason being complete with our past is so important is that it fills a space that we so often fill with someone new. We all know or have been the person that goes from relationship to relationship having never sat in our pain and felt it through our heartbreak.
In order to fully be present for our relationships we need to be in a place where we love ourselves and have a high sense of self worth. Why? When we think highly of ourselves, we respect and communicate our boundaries, our needs and desires, and we don’t tolerate behaviour and people that aren’t worthy of our time. Our self respect, values, and principles become so important to us that when someone does not live up to our standards, we can move on knowing that we are the architect of our life, and we get to choose who is in it. Only high performers need apply.
In order to get to that place, we have to do the things that we love. Eating well, exercise, meditation and spending time with friends and family all contribute to a healthier mind and body. Shining light on our emotional blind spots and learning how to participate in a fulfilling and effective relationship empowers us so that we do not repeat those same mistakes.
Make YOU a priority. What’s important to you? What activities and events make you excited and happy?
Starting over is about picking up the pieces and moving forward. The truth is that there is no exact recipe or plan that works for everyone. However, will you let resentment, anger and hurt from past relationships consume you? Or will you choose to accept what happened, forgive yourself and others and move on to a better and more fulfilling relationship? Let your heart and intuition be your guide and let your experience be your own.