Our past relationships
2017 has proven a difficult year so far. The November presidential election has had the global political climate in a tail spin. At home, I have a tween who became a teen and seemingly grew up overnight. On a personal level, I’ve had to face letting go of another round of relationships that were the product of my old self and my old beliefs, from a time I refer to as B.H.
In my early life, I often operated on assumption and innuendo. I manipulated people and situations and allowed others to manipulate me. I often went to bed angry and ashamed of my own behavior and of the way I allowed others to treat me. None of it was intentional. It was the result of unconscious, dysfunctional patterns from childhood and early adulthood that, left untended, had bloomed into my own crown of thorns: self-punishing and apparent to everyone except me.
But then, healing came.
With a lot of intention and consciousness and mindful daily effort, healing came.
Slowly, methodically, almost imperceptibly-like a tree sprouting its new leaves after a long, cold winter- all of a sudden, yet not sudden at all, there I was. A new me, a stronger me, a healthier me.
A better communicator. A better boundary setter. A calmer, more confident woman who was able to love and be loved while still remaining true to myelf. No longer compromising my own self-worth, but celebrating my worth alongside that of others. No longer feeling less than everyone else, but equal to.
I learned to become important to me. I learned to take care of myself first, only to realize, I have so much more to give others when I do.
I learned to say no to things that aren’t important, so I can say yes to the things that are.
The cost of healing
The relationships we have before healing are different than those we have after healing.
As a therapist, I warn new patients before they enter therapy that healing themselves may be upsetting to their existing relationships.
You see, just because I am a calmer, more confident communicator and boundary setter, doesn’t mean that the people who interacted with me before I became that way are willing to accept it. Transparency is uncomfortable. Authenticity is vulnerable. Confronting someone you are angry with is a lot harder than complaining about them to everyone except them.
But, yet…authentic communion is the realness and rawness of the human condition. In order to know and be known, we must tear down the walls we hide behind so that others can know the real us; the people behind the masks.
Yes, healing can cost us important relationships. But without healing, we will never know genuine relationships.
If the cost of healing is our past relationships, then the reward for healing is our new relationships.
If we want to level-up in life, we have to cut the anchors that weigh us down.
That doesn’t mean we leave people behind, but we do have to leave dysfunction behind.
We replace negative, dysfunctional interactions with positive, emotionally healthy interactions. As we hold ourselves to a higher level of functioning, as we peacefully resist against those who would draw us into their dysfunction, something interesting happens: they don’t like us anymore.
They move on to interact with other people who may feel more familiar, more comfortable, and yes–more dysfunctional.
Leaving us to warmly embrace new relationships that are not.
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Good Mental Health LLC is a counseling and coaching practice located in St. Johns, Florida, offering individual and family counseling to children, teens, and adults. With sessions available face-to-face and via video chat and text, we hope to provide the tools and skills necessary to heal past wounds, grow healthy relationships, and build strong families. For more information, read more about us, or contact us here.
When the cost of healing is our past relationships is written by Diana Baker, MSW, a mental health counselor with 20 years’ experience working with children and families. Find her at GoodMentalHealth.info.
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