According to Alfred Lord Tennyson, “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”. But what do you do when you have loved and been hurt? What do you do when you have loved and been disappointed?
What do you do when you have loved, given your best to the relationship then had your heart ripped out of your chest, pummeled, stomped all over, put through a shredder, set on fire, (I’m sure you get the picture by now) then handed back to you barely beating, shattered into what feels like a million pieces that can never be put back together?
When we have been hurt it is very easy to close ourselves off from feeling, from caring and from romantic relationships. Too often I have seen people become cynical, pessimistic and completely detached from the very idea of getting into a romantic relationship. Finding every reason (excuse) under the sun from, “I’m not in a good financial position”, to “I’m just not ready. It’s too soon, I just need some more time” (even though it has been years since the break-up). I’m not saying that there is a time limit to get over heartbreak. But don’t lock yourself of, not being open to love as a result of it.
Believe me, I know that to pick yourself up from heartbreak is one of the hardest things we do in life. I have been there, I have been cheated on, and unknowingly cheated with. My first husband cheated, we got divorced and to my knowledge they are still together. I know the heartbreak of entering into a relationship thinking, this is it, this is ‘the one, my prince’. Only for him to be me kissing another frog.
My take on it is, if the person that hurt me, lied to me or betrayed me was the only person that deserved the best that I have to give in a relationship, we would still be together. So, I won’t give up on love. I will try, try and try again. I believe that there is someone that deserves all I put into my previous relationships and more. The man that will be faithful to me, the man that will honor me, cherish me, respect and value the commitment and the vows we have taken.
There is a proverb that says, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverb 4:23. But because of how bad the experience has been some people end up barricading their heart in a bricked-up compartment. Then locking the compartment with their heart away in a fortified castle on top of a mountain so that no one can ever get close enough to hurt them again. They end up with a stony, cold, hard, lonely heart and in some cases a very bitter heart.
Some have such a fear of intimacy they put up barriers because of the past. They end up either consciously or sub-consciously self-sabotaging their relationships. Because they just can’t trust and open up from the memory of what they went through. In some cases it then plays out like a self-fulfilling prophesy to justify why they were “right” to not love and let anyone in because “people always leave”. Rather than taking responsibility and looking at their actions that pushed the person away and examining why they are behaving this way. They shut love out by saying it is impossible to find and keep. Many deliberately avoid intimacy, because it brings back old feelings of hurt, anger, rejection and loss.
This self-sabotaging behavior can look like, picking a fight over something trivial, being overly critical, distrusting, jealous, or they clam up and don’t communicate. In general behavior that pushes people away. To be honest it is hard work being around a person like that. Ultimately, people do end up walking away. Until healing takes place this cycle will continue. The sad part is, some of the people I have seen self-sabotage their relationships are actually some of the nicest people you could have as friends. Clearly, they still need to heal from past pain.
I recall a woman I worked with telling me about her first marriage. She was so worked up, animated and angry. Banging her fists on the table as she detailed what her ex-husband had done. It wasn’t until she said, “I just had the baby and found this all out.” I stopped her, as I knew she only has one child, who at the time was 18 years old, and asked, “the baby? Are you talking about Mandy?” She confirmed she was, I was stunned at how upset she still got 18 years later.
She had since remarried and spoke of how she was treating her then husband, who sadly divorced her. Looking at it and in trying to speak to her, she was completely self-sabotaging her marriage to a really nice guy, because she was still bound up in the pain and rejection of her first marriage. Almost like she was punishing her second husband for what the first did. Not realizing she was hurting herself more.
Free Yourself From The Fear That’s Keeping Love Away
What do you do? Because to love is to be vulnerable. And vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness. But is actually quite the opposite. To love and be vulnerable takes strength and a lot of it, especially after a major betrayal of trust and heartbreak. Love is opening your heart to welcome love, your love. To love and be loved is risky, it is taking a chance, but is it worth it for the right person? Ab-so-bloody-lute-ly!
Authentic love is taking a risk, it is risky, but a risk well worth taking none the less. If you want to stay secure, then you will find that behind the walls of a closed heart. We all have some defenses as a result of the past, these may not just be as a result of a romantic relationship, this can be from childhood trauma.
We are rarely even aware of how we’ve been impacted by our past. The behavior we exhibit may not manifest itself until we get into a new relationship. The ways we were hurt in previous relationships, have a strong influence on how we look at the people we get close to and how we act in any relationship. Yes, we are talking about love, but this could be how we act in any relationship, resentful of authority etc.
A new relationship is uncharted territory, and most of us have a natural fear of the unknown. We are putting a lot of trust in another person and that can lead to feeling vulnerable, feeling exposed, which is perfectly normal. For some reason we think that the more we care, the more we love, the more we can get hurt. This may well be true. You can either invite love and intimacy into your life or you can be secure in the isolation of being closed off. Isolation is not where true happiness lives. As the old reggae song says, “no man is an island.”
Learning and knowing about our fears of intimacy are and how they manifest in our behavior is an important step to finding and having a fulfilling, long-term relationship. When you’re finally in the right relationship, you’ll know what it’s like to feel completely safe. You’ll be able to feel closely connected with your partner, still being who you are, keeping your individuality.
But as cliché as this is, it starts with you, not being open is not the answer. No matter how hard you try, or what you do, you won’t find a happy, lasting relationship if you don’t have a loving relationship with yourself first. Loving yourself is important, this starts with getting the help to heal from the hurts and disappointments of the past. Some throw themselves from one relationship to another thinking that will help them to get over it. That is not the answer either.
Low key many of us struggle with feelings of being unlovable. We have a hard time realizing our own value and a harder time believing anyone could or would really care for and love us. Love comes from understanding, start with understanding you. Who are you? What do you like? Do some work on you.
A healthy healed you can be in a healthy relationship. We tend to attract who we are. Many of our relationships are a reflection of our inner selves. If I am honest, I can look back on my past relationships and see who I was at the time. In some cases it wasn’t pretty. I remember my cousin yelling at me when I, all excitedly was telling her I was seeing a man more than 10 years my senior, with 8+ children with 4+ different women. Another situationship that had no substance, no future and mediocre sex. Not sure what I was doing in that, but there I was, right there in it!
I had to do the work on myself. I had to get the help I needed to move past the trauma of the past. I had to grieve the parts of me that was lost to pain. I had to let go of anger, I had to let go of disappointment, I had to let go of pain. I had to feel every emotion that came with heartbreak and trauma that I had suppressed for years. Not years as a figure of speech, but literal years. The emotion of shame and embarrassment, especially after the end of my marriage. I felt humiliated. The emotion of rejection, betrayal, shock and the pain I felt. I had to acknowledge it all before I could let all of those negative destroying emotions go. I had to forgive others and myself.
Then I began the work on myself to learn to affirm that I can love, and I am lovable. I had to learn to love both myself and others unconditionally, because love is unconditional. Love you unconditionally, understand you. Love is the most important thing. It’s not about how much you have, how much you know, or how much you do. It’s about how well you love and how well you love you! Love is what matters most. Once you love you unconditionally contentment follows.
When you love conditionally, you have to keep deciding if you and others are worthy of love. You can never let your guard down enough to be content when love is conditional. Decide once and for all, and love, love unconditionally. And be content.
3 comments on “Love Again, Live Again. Don’t Shut The Door!”
Reading this made me realize I have some work to do on myself.
As hard as it is, I am really trying not to give up on love. My heart feels like the first picture. Pat
I had my heart locked away for years. Thank you for writing this. I am getting the courage to love again.
I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout of your blog. Jenni