Do you hear that sound?
It’s the crushing, crunching, crackling of your heart breaking. Like a fragile glass, falling to the cold, hard floor.
Do you see that?
It’s you trying to salvage the wreckage. Trying to figure out how to put the sharp, scattered, smashed pieces back together.
I know. It really f*cking hurts.
Unfortunately, most of us have had moments in our relationships that have completely shattered us.
Unexpected and painful moments.
Moments where at first we felt completely amazing: with love coursing through our veins, feeling as though everything was right in the world.
Then, suddenly the rug was pulled out from under us and there we go, falling, falling, falling.
Falling forever and shattering completely.
We will never forget that moment.
Maybe we were trampled on, abused, disrespected, controlled, manipulated, deeply criticized, betrayed, or abandoned.
Were we broken?
Or were we broken open?
I think we were broken open.
Although it hurts, wounding and painful relationship experiences have this way of unmasking and exposing us.
Exposing us to ourselves.
Exposing our innermost weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
But, sometimes, these experiences can also leave us feeling so vulnerable that we will retreat from intimacy from that point on.
We might create this sort of bubble around us, ensuring that no one ever gets in—because the last time we let someone in, we got hurt—badly.
We barely made it out.
And, we can’t bare the risk of feeling that kind of pain again.
Honestly, I think that it is perfectly healthy to retreat.
It can be very healing.
We need to feel safe again.
We need to rebuild ourselves.
We need to reflect on the experience.
We need to give ourselves so, so, so much love and nurturing.
But, we might get a bit too comfortable in our little bubble-world.
We might get so comfortable that we decide to stay there until the end of our days.
We might feel afraid to truly connect with another person ever again.
We can’t hide forever.
When we are truly ready, and have taken careful care of our wounds, we have to learn to let people in again. We have to learn how to trust. We have to learn that we can feel safe with others.
This is so vital.
In fact, I think this is where the real healing takes place.
If a wounding has occurred in a relationship, it must also be healed in a relationship.
It is the only way.
We can only do so much healing on our own. At a certain point, we need the perspective, support and reflectiveness that only a loving and healthy relationship can give us.
This curative relationship does not have to be a love relationship. It could be a friendship. Both can provide a wonderful framework for acceptance and healing.
I had a wound very much about feeling controlled and criticized by others, and the only way for me to heal was to return to the scene of a crime: a relationship.
I had to learn that love does not need to come with a side of abuse.
Yikes!! This was honestly the hardest, scariest, most petrifying part of my healing journey.
I know won’t feel controlled or abused when I’m alone, but the challenge was for me to also feel this free in a relationship.
This whole thing can be very tricky, because it also means trusting yourself enough to know your worth and therefore choosing a worthy partner or friend. That is why it is very, very, very important to do your fare share of healing on your own.
But, if you listen to yourself, and I mean really listen, you will know when you are ready. And you will know when you meet someone that you can heal with and be with, in a very genuine way.
It will be mutually healing and inspiring.
When I met my current partner, I saw him and in the deepest part of my being, I knew that I would feel safe with him. I knew that he would respect me and love me, and that I would feel the same in return.
There was simply something about his energy that told me everything I needed to know in that moment.
I knew I could heal with him. I knew we would help each other.
So, with a scared, but serene smile on my face, I took a leap:
I entered a relationship.
I made it a point to speak up about my feelings, express my need for space, and still hold myself gently and compassionately as I had learned to do in my bubble-world.
No matter what I needed, I felt his support and love, so deeply.
It continues to burn brightly in the shadows of my still-sometimes-suspicious heart.
And, no matter how much I learned to love and support myself, feeling that kind of unconditional and pure love from another person heals me so deeply and profoundly.
If we can summon the courage to enter into a healthy relationship with a healthy individual, we can cure things that we never thought possible.
I am learning to trust again.
I am learning to let someone in.
I am learning I don’t always have to give.
I am learning the beauty in my emotions.
I am learning how to compromise, without compromising myself.
I am learning to express my needs.
I am learning to be vulnerable with another. (For me, that’s the hardest thing.)
Life was okay in my bubble, but I was only half-alive.
Now, I live more vividly. More fully.
And, much to my surprise: more freely.
Although it can be hard to admit, some wounds we cannot heal on our own.
For some wounds, we need help to heal.
We need the gentle hands of another to soothe us, nurture us, and tenderly kiss us on the forehead.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock