Since Monday is Independence Day in the United States, today’s post shares how I freed myself from the pain of past relationships. This article is my sixth installment in my summer series on relationships. Like the previous posts in this series, this is reprint from our A Stitch in Time newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading today’s article whether reading for the first time or second!
Releasing the Pain
“We need to talk,” is a phrase many people dread hearing. I was one of those people. Why? Because such phrases had become a warning signal that I was about to be berated or torn down verbally.
Before meeting Reggie, I fell prey to a man whose chosen weapon was criticism. I not only dreaded the ensuing assault, but I withdrew and became defensive. I would withdraw by shutting down mentally and emotionally. An invisible wall went up between us. If possible, I would remove myself physically or end our phone conversations to limit the criticism. If I could not withdraw, I would become argumentative and defend myself from his criticism.
The pain I endured in that relationship changed me deeply. The coping mechanisms of defensiveness and withdrawal stayed with me long after that relationship ended. I wanted to be different; however, I was not sure where to begin.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed and asked God to heal me and show me areas that needed healing. I began doing this while single because I did not want my future husband to have to deal with my baggage.
God showed me many things, like taking an inventory of my emotions and reactions in situations (not just in romantic relationships, but with my family and friends too). These were emotions I had buried because they were too painful to feel. Or so I thought. What I learned as I dropped my protective shield and allowed myself to feel the pain is that the path to healing is often through pain. I had to feel the pain to release the pain.
It wasn’t easy and I shed my fair share of tears, but I learned that tears are cleansing. They clean our emotional wounds. Now, I am no longer afraid. I want to heal my past hurts not just bury them because unresolved issues have a way of resurfacing at the most inconvenient times.
That was what happened with Reggie. One day Reggie innocently said, “We need to talk.” His comment caused a reaction in me that he did not deserve. Suddenly, and without my realizing why, I was afraid that I was about to be criticized again. As in the past, my reaction was to withdraw, and when that did not work, I became defensive. However, Reggie had not criticized me. This was not the man who had attacked me with words.
In fact, all Reggie wanted to talk about was the status of our relationship. Six months had passed and Reggie wanted to know how he was doing and if I was happy. Reggie’s focus was on his performance, not mine. So, there was no reason to be defensive or withdrawn.
Sadly, emotions don’t always follow reason. Thankfully, I had already learned to take an emotional inventory before he approached me. I had already learned to review my reactions and see if they were overreactions, as this obviously was. Consequently, I began to fight the fear and share with Reggie how I was feeling and why.
Together, we began working through it, and I am happy to say that we finished dealing with this issue before we got married. Reggie can initiate a serious conversation and I don’t always become uneasy. On those rare occasions when I do, I am quicker to handle the fear, so that it doesn’t impact our relationship.
That is my hope for you as well. I hope that you will identify what triggers your pain, and with God’s help, release it. So, you can be free. Yes, it may hurt and it will require work, but I am living proof that it gets better-a better life with better relationships.
If you enjoyed this post, check out the rest of my summer series on relationships:
- Part One – Preparing for a relationship by spending time alone with God.
- Part Two – Some tips from my late husband Reginald Sanders on how to spend time alone with God.
- Part Three – Who should take initiative in a relationship and when.
- Part Four – Protecting your significant other’s tender spots and vulnerabilities.
- Part Five – Getting your priorities in order.
Until Next Time,
Questions: Do your thoughts leave you feeling good? Or bad? Why? What unresolved emotions need healing in your life? How could releasing the pain help you prepare for your next big thing? Who do you trust to help you in this journey? Please respond by clicking on the Comment, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and/or Pinterest buttons below. Also, if this post blessed you, please sign up to receive them through email. That way, you won’t miss the next one.