Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I love giving advice that's unwarranted. I love it even more when you ask me. Here's a recent note I received from a reader- please, lend a hand, yo:

I'm not one to give my heart freely. In fact I feel like I have so much internal damage from loving relationships that not even a new loving relationship can help, and that's two years after the fact. I can't live my life in fear of loving again just to not be able to love completely. What do I do?

Sweet reader,
Get therapy.

Here's my real opinion, my dear Locked Out of Love. I want you to know I wrote a very eloquent, thoughtful piece for you in response, but my computer shut down and erased all 7 paragraphs, and now I feel (much as you must) like anything I try to re-create will just never be as good as the first one which I had invested so much time and energy and heart into. But I cannot leave you hanging, so...Take 2:

Dear Locked Out of Love,
Please let me begin by saying that I wish we lived closer, because I just want to have you over for a nice cup of tea and the biggest hug ever!!! It really does pain my heart to hear your plight, and it pains me even more to know that you have had several relationships fall apart because you have not been able to overcome this immense fear and mistrust. Not only because you are keeping yourself from loving someone else, but because you're preventing that someone else the immense gift of being able to love and appreciate you. And that just doesn't seem fair.

First, I was not kidding when I said, "get therapy." The fact remains: You're being tormented by something that finished over two years ago, and all the thinking and praying and venting and dating has not helped you to overcome this past situation. If you have been working this hard for all this time, why would the suggestion of professional help be anything to scoff at? If you want your situation to change, something in you is going to have to be willing to make a change. Therapy isn't going to dictate what you should do or magically tell you how to fix all your problems or make you dwell unnecessarily on the past. A therapist will serve as an impartial party who is trained to professionally help you sort things out to recognize and adjust the unhealthy patterns you've ingrained into yourself. Because as much as your friends, your mom, your bishop, your roommates, your friends, your ward, and your coworkers may love you, if they haven't come up with the answer to get over this guy after two years of tears and heartache and more ruined relationships, that therapist sure sounds like the most time-effective way to go about modifying the patterns that you may be slipping into. Friends on Blogg who are therapists can probably go about explaining the true methodology behind therapy better than I can, so I'll let them take the floor from here.

Now I'd like you to take a minute and assess your life. Are you happy with who you are? Are you happy with your life right now? Romantic relationships aside, are you satisfied with your friendships, your social circles, your education level, your career, your goals, your spiritual activity? And if not, what can you do right now to inspire yourself again? Take guitar lessons! Go back to school, or sign up for a grad class! Throw a mocktail party with your most fabulous friends! Give a toast to yourself and recognize all the progress you've made and take the time to acknowledge within yourself all the things which you HAVE accomplished! Romance is great, but no romantic relationship is going to fill the void that comes from being unsatisfied with who you are on your own. No man should be expected to fix you.

What's difficult about your situation is that you're saying subsequent relationships have been damaged because of a damaging relationship from the past. Again, I say, unfair. Unfair to you, unfair to those who love you. And unfair to the ones who are going to love you in the future. What's even more aggravating is that, by not moving forward, you're also giving an incredible amount of power and control to the very man who tried to take that from you in the first place! Don't let him do take that from you. He's already taken up enough of your time! Besides, Karma doesn't just happen as vindication to tritely brush off someone else's bad behavior; it's that those who treat others with disrespect and disregard for the well-being of those around them tend to create disharmony around themselves. And since the way we treat others is generally a good reflection of how we feel about ourselves, you can bet your bottom dollar that man was never the man who was going to make you truly happy. And yes, you want to be with the man who will be truly happy- with you and beside you, because together you make each other better individuals.

Finally, I'm going to share what a very wise friend once warned me: At some point, you are going to need to swallow that hard, cold pill and admit that there is something you are getting out of harbouring this resentment and blaming your fears on the past. If you weren't getting some kind of satisfaction, you would not need to hold onto this pain. Whether it provides you with an excuse for not growing up and moving forward, or allows you to feel morally superior to the man who hurt you, or allows you to say, "I had love once," in order to feel better about not having it now; there is something you are hanging onto that needs to be resolved so you can have the freedom to move on. Once you find the courage to let go, accepting the love of someone who deserves yours in kind will be a natural effect of opening yourself to the possibility that you deserve love and you deserve the freedom to love someone else, openly, honestly and completely.

Here's to gaining the courage and confidence and faith it requires to unlock that door. Big hugs to you.


Rudie can't fail said...

You have to move on. One way or another you have to do it.

My mother recently told me a story about a friend of hers (whom I know as well as she is a friend of the family). She is 60ish or so. She was married shortly after graduating from the BYU. The marriage lasted only a year as her husband began smoking, drinking, and engaging in other bad behavior of which I don't know the details. She divorced him, and a few years later married the man to whom she has been married for 25+ years and is completely happy. She never had contact with her first husband other than randomly bumping into him a couple of times over the years. Fast forward to a couple of months ago, she gets a letter from him saying that she is the only one he ever loved, and he has always loved her through all these years, etc, etc. She found the letter creepy, but otherwise ignored it.

This guy never moved on, and I'm sure that his life has been miserable for it. How do you actually move on? I don't know - It's different for everybody. For me, I spend a lot of time running too hard, too far and too fast until I end up on my knees puking up a lung or on my mountain bike bombing down a hill going way too fast and on the edge of catastrophe. There is nothing like excruciating physical pain or the prospect of imminent death to clear relationship issues out of my head. I do the exact opposite of what Farrah is suggesting - I box the relationship up and put it in the darkest corner I can find, and do my best to forget about it. This works for me, but YMMV. Some people need to talk it out ad nauseum with friends and strangers alike. I don't begrudge anyone this, if that's what it takes.

I'm generally not a big fan of therapy, but if you've tried everything else, maybe it's worth a shot.

caroline said...

i had a hard time moving on after are horrific relationship and i realized it was because i hadn't forgiven what he did to me. i still joke about how lame he is, but i'm not angry about what he did to me anymore. once i was able to let go of the anger, i was really able to let it go and be happy again.

caroline said...

"a" horrific, not "are" horrific.

Missa said...

I agree with Caroline that forgiving someone really helps. I still haven't gotten there with one relationship, but I'm working on it. Myself, being in more than my share of heart-wrenching relationships (just ask Farrah)I just keep putting myself out there to be hurt! Because you know what?
Someday I wont get hurt.
I really have faith in that...I have hope that someday, after all my efforts, it will happen for me...someone will love and cherish me as much as I love them.
I keep holding on to that because really, If I didn't have hope what would I have to live for?

f*bomb. said...

It's actually, "an" horrific...Like how they talk in France.

Krista said...

I'm all about the THERAPY.

And I've got a great referral for your "sweet reader."

He goes by the name of Jerry....

f*bomb. said...

Sorry- Locked Out of Love lives on the East Coast, but in general, I think (especially if you are dealing with an issue for over a year and it continues to resurface and clearly casually stressing about it with friends and family is not doing the trick) professional help really DOES seem to be the most reasonable solution. If you had a cold for a year you'd eventually see a doctor, right? Same diff. But this time we're talking about your mental health- and if you're repeatedly sabatoging relationships two years after the fact, then, hunny, SOMETHING needs to be done.

ThomCarter said...

If Locked out of Love lives on the East Coast then I can give a referal for a good therapist!

Anyway . . .

I agree with the majority of the comments.

I also like to stick with the regular ThomCarter rules:

1. Relax
2. Act in Faith
3. Get over it.

This has been really hard for me, but if fear is going to hold us in place on any subject then we will not be able to progress at anything (I know that is a bit of hyperbole)

I also know that they only way to truly love is to put yourself in a position to be deeply hurt.

This is where faith comes in. Faith in yourself and faith in the Lord. If you have been hurt before, you have survived, you have to have faith that you will survive again.

So ACT in faith!

The End

Broek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
f*bomb. said...

Integrity is a huge part of recovery as well; if you can recognize that you did everything honestly and to the best of your ability, and someone else decided to disrespect your faith and your heart- that's not YOUR problem. I hope we all behave in a way where we can look back and know that you did everything the best you knew how, and if someone can't appreciate that or if they take advantage of you, that is for THEM to live with. Not you.

Vanilla Vice said...

What's with the stigma with therapy? It's awesome! You can blabber endlessly, s/he listens with no judgment, and helps you progress with your problems. Sounds like a good idea for me. Especially when insurance pays for it. You might even get meds out of it if referred to a doctor. SWEET!

Locked Out of Love said...

Dear Farrah and Company,
I sincerely appreciate all the beautiful comments and advice that have been shared. Just to ease your minds, I am in therapy and love it muy mucho. It's helped quite a bit. Also to clarify, the guy I loved was an absolute angel to me. It would have helped the whole breaking up process if there had been something OBVIOUSLY wrong with him or our relationship. But, what it all came down to was the ominous, undefinable "No". That's what I have struggled with all these years. How could such a wonderful person be a "No"?! Was there, is there something inherently wrong with me that I couldn't give my whole heart to this person? I blamed God for a long time; Him taking away someone I loved so much. But, and this is what it all comes down to, I had to and still have to trust that He knows what's going on better than I do.

Subsequently, the process of dating and, yes, loving again, has been a horrifically painful one. It's been this battle of wondering if I can really give my whole self to this person just to have him yanked away for no good reason yet again? Am I flawed and defective in my ability to love really great people, or is the Lord really the one to blame for my "inabilities"? I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but I've been making progress with the new man. "One day at a time" and "I don't have to know how I feel yet" are phrases that run constantly through my mind. I've also had to relearn how to trust God again. Maybe he wasn't yanking away someone I loved for no good reason. Maybe He really does know what's going on better than my little control-freak self does. Imagine that...

Sometimes it seems that there are two types of daters out there, those who give their hearts too freely and those who don't give their hearts freely enough. Obviously I fall into the second grouping. There are strengths and incredible weaknesses to both groupings. However, the bottom line for me is that I want to love again. I want to find someone I can give ALL of my heart to. And I want my Heavenly Father back into my trusted circle. Something I've found that calms the fearful heart is to kneel down and pray before I see the new boy. I pray to have fun and be comfortable with myself so he can feel comfortable with himself and we can have fun together. Amazingly this has helped. The boy himself gets kudos for having a crazy amount of patience. I think I'll hang onto him for a little bit longer.

One day at a time.


f*bomb. said...

O, Unlocked.
I just love your guts.
And, for the record, there never be any way of "knowing" if that person you're with is right...There are just too many elements of surprise and too many factors of unpredictability. The most you can do is know the condition of his heart, put your trust and faith in knowing his intentions, and go with that.