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?
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.