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October 8, 2015

How Acknowledging My Partner’s Past Helped Me Find Presence.

woman on train, looking out, memories

I’ve been dating this amazing guy (henceforth referred to as Prince Charming) for nearly four years, but there was one thing getting in the way of our future happiness together: I could not get over his past.

This had been going on for years. When Prince Charming and I met, I knew about his past. He was straightforward with me about it. The problem was, it pained me (I was insanely jealous), so I forgot about the fact that having a “past” was normal.

If this was a normal thing, why was I so hung up about this particular one?

I didn’t realize at the time that it was my ego that wanted to feel superior to my man—just because he’d had more experience than me, I needed to punish him for it because I wanted to feel like I was “more” or “better” than the people he’d been with.

It all boiled down to insecurity, which is definitely not sexy. It led to fights, breakups, and just accumulating negative energy.

How many times do we not deal with something because it’s too painful or too difficult? How many times do we push something to the back of the closet (literally or figuratively) because it seems impossible to navigate around? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve done this a lot. It seems like most times, the things that hurt us are the things that actually hurt our pride and make us feel inferior.
As my feelings deepened for this wonderful man, I found his past more and more impossible to deal with, no matter how well he treated me or how many good times we’d had together. I couldn’t reconcile the person I loved now with his past. So I shoved it to the back of the closet, where it rested for a while. It would always come back out, rearing its ugly head in the midst of fights, arguments, and even our intimate times together, but I could always push it back in there.

Eventually though, whether from triggered or not, the feelings would come out again: the anger, frustration, and haunting demon faces come out of the closet, dressed up in their finest “I am jealous bitch” gear.

I felt lost and didn’t know what to do. Prince Charming had been amazing to me all these years. My reactions were seemingly unreasonable, although they were my reality. It was destroying our relationship. What was this really about?

Prince Charming and I finally ended up in couple’s counseling. We decided to call it “pre-marital” counseling in case anyone asked, but the truth is, we were considering it quits because I felt I would never be rid of the need to punish him for the things he did before he met me.

While he never cheated on me, I still couldn’t get past these things that happened before we met.

Two days after our first session, on a rainy Saturday when we both felt totally hopeless about our relationship, I picked up a book. It was Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Feeling on some subconscious level that it would help me—and us—I began to read it.

It’s sort of magical when I think about how I was transformed. The book helped me realize that it wasn’t me who felt hateful and jealous towards Prince Charming and his past—it was my ego. I was so completely identifying with my feelings that I couldn’t see past them. I couldn’t see anything about his past besides IT and my feelings about IT. I could not see it for what it was, I could only see it as the thing that hurt my ego because he had more experience, more sex, and more of her that he’d ever had of me (or, so I thought).

Once I realized this, I felt free. Spending so much time on the past—not to mention identifying with my mind, my thoughts, and my emotions—had trapped me in a prison where my mind became a living hell. Rather than enjoy the beauty of my relationship with Prince Charming, my life was tainted by his past, and my ego never let me forget this need to feel superior.

A New Earth teaches us to embrace the power of now—Prince Charming is here with me now, wanting to be my beloved, wanting to be my lover, wanting to be my partner in life, but I couldn’t see it. All I saw was his past. Now, I realize that I am not my emotions. Prince Charming is not those things he did. We are both infinitely more than our pasts, our experiences, and our emotions.

We are Beings.

When we try to make others feel bad for the choices they’ve made, or just simply hate them for it, not only are we dispersing negative energy into the world, but we’re denying ourselves happiness. Being mindful and present means being ourselves and being happy. Wasting so much time on the past seems so silly to me now, when I could have been truly enjoying, loving, and seeing the person who’s stood by me all these years for what he truly is—a Being who loves me.

Being present doesn’t mean forgetting the past or magically getting over our partners’ mistakes, but it does mean that we stay true to the present moment by observing our thoughts rather than becoming them. If we totally identify with our emotions, then we will be controlled by them.

I experienced this for years with my Prince Charming.

Being present is what lets be better people, to let go of our pasts and mistakes, and to truly see and love others. When all we see are our emotions, our thoughts, and our ego, we are lost. Being present in love is the only way to live.

 

 

 

Author: Jenn Ryan

Editor: Renée Picard 

Image: Looking out, Simon Law, Flickr 

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Jenn Ryan

Jenn Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who’s passionate about health, the environment, and animals. She loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued bunnies.