A conversation at MsC pressed on some old relationship wounds and I am thinking about what I wish I could have said to my younger self. To the version of me who felt these wounds firsthand and is trying to protect who I am now. I am safe, I am loved, and I am wanted. So I thank past me for trying to protect me but I am past that now.
If you never heal from your past relationships, you will always see the mistakes, fears, and worries you obtained in every new relationship you have. You will always look through the lens of “how do I protect myself” from the pain of the past. You will never be able to look at the person in front of you and see them for who they actually are, all of their grace and goodwill, their patience and love that they have for you. You will only see the past pasted over them like a piece of cellophane. Every word will be from the demons in your head, not the person in front of you.
And when they do hurt you, it will feel like a massive wound, a ripped open chest, a complete gutting of your heart. Because you are not feeling the hurt they are causing but the hurt of every single relationship you’ve never healed from. The hurt of a thousand cuts. But they are the ones in front of you so they are the ones you look at as the cause of the pain. As the one wielding the knife.
Healing is terrifying and scary. Healing is an unknown. A mystery. The blackness that sits on the other side of a door ready to consume you. How do you know it’ll be any different than the blackness that already curls around your soul? How do you know that healing is even possible? You have been broken over and over and stitched yourself together with promises to yourself, whispered apologies in the night. Are you even capable of being whole again? Do you even deserve to feel like a whole person?
But can you keep living like this either? Mired in anger and hatred and fear. Consumed with nothing but your thoughts about how everyone is out to get you in some way, to use you, to batter you against the walls of your own heart. Because this is all you’ve ever known. Because this is all humanity has ever shown you. So when a person reaches down into that muck and says “let me help you”, it is far safer to lash out and bite them than risk them gutting you.
It may be tempting to find those who have harmed you and gut them as they gutted you. But what does that accomplish? What wound of yours does that heal? Bitter satisfaction is a slow-acting poison. Causing harm to another does nothing but stain your heart, even if it’s in logical revenge. But you will only drown yourself in more muck and mire, more pain and anguish because you are now consumed with the thoughts of seeking revenge rather than turning your face to the light. This is what the little demons in your mind want you to do. Become like them. They have shown you this is how humans behave so clearly you must behave that way too.
But do you?
The first step to healing is to stop biting. Don’t defang yourself but close your mouth and listen to the words that are actually being murmured to you. Push away the demons that ensnare your mind and allow the love and friendship being offered you to flow into you like a river. Let it wash away the past pains, the ragged edges of your wounds, so that you may begin to heal. Give it a chance. You’ll be surprised what wounds start to close up when they are exposed to sunshine and light instead of hidden underneath your cloak of protection.
Do not let the past way you down like chains. Do not let the people who harmed you continue to whisper in your ears, sit on your shoulders like little devils. You have moved on past them, survived them, are living with the gut wounds they gave you. Do not give them satisfaction of continuing to dig their barbs into your skin. Wipe them away. Strip yourself of the fear and distrust they sowed in you to control you. Learn what love, friendship, goodness feels like. Lean into the softness, the tenderness, the kindness of these things. Let it become your new armor. Soft and tender but easy to lean on when needed.
Healing is a choice and not an easy one to make or continue to make. It is a process, a constant struggle. It is a churning ocean that you feel like you’re drowning in some days. But it is better than the muck you have been pushed into. It’s better than the pain and sorrow you carry with you like worry stones in your pockets. The things you reach for when you’re upset.
This isn’t to say that those feelings, those hurts, those wounds, aren’t real. They’re very real. They’ll reopen from time to time. You’ll have to stitch yourself back together here and there. But they’ll get smaller. They’ll scar over. And you will be all the better for it.