April 13, 2016

Revisiting Past Hurts with Exes & Loved Ones—is it Worth going back for Closure?

Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/woman-mode-madam-model-girl-sexy-284621/

Speaking truthfully about our feelings doesn’t have an expiry date. Truth isn’t a pork chop or a box of cereal. So why are we often so reluctant to revisit the past in a way that could be healing or helpful?

We can do our own work on completing, it’s true. We can use letting go, forgiveness and acceptance to process what was painful.  But even if we heal and take the learning from the  journey, talking can still be part of that process, even years downstream.

A friend of mine cast her eyes over her daily horoscope one morning, and read this:

Think of something you’ve regretted. Now do something about it.

She did do something; she called her ex-husband.

They’d been together for a decade, and in their last year the relationship had gone to sh*t. They hadn’t had sex for ages, and in the pain of it all my friend had an affair. She said sorry at the time, but didn’t really understand back then how much it must have hurt him.

That’s why she called to apologize again years later. She wanted his forgiveness—and to forgive herself, too. He was glad of the opportunity to say sorry as well, for what he felt were his inadequacies as a partner back then.

Another friend went out to dinner with her ex recently.

Years ago he’d left her for someone else. At the time, she was so devastated that she couldn’t talk about her feelings or depth of hurt.

So, nearly 18 years later, she did! Holy sh*t. He heard her—and that’s a big part of what she wanted.

She would’ve liked it even more if he’d apologized, or fallen on his sword. Or told her it was the biggest mistake of his life, but he didn’t.

I think my friends were brave.

Going back and revisiting the past with people isn’t easy. There’s plenty to fear—it’s risky. We might get told to eff off. These situations make us vulnerable, which is why it’s so courageous to go back.

There are so many ways we can let fear close us up. We can tell ourselves that it’s ancient history, a relationship relic, a ruin best left alone. We can tell ourselves situations like this are too long ago to talk about.

But sometimes ancient history needs to be revisited and picked through, in a way that loves us now. Our truth changes. How we feel about our past gets reframed as we live—and hopefully grow.

The gift of hindsight is often a deeper understanding.

Is it worth sharing it?

Often we fear that we’ll reopen old wounds by sharing, but that’s exactly the point.

Scars tell two stories: one of hurt, and the other of healing.

I met my father after 20 years of silence between us.

Was it awkward?


Was it difficult?

Hell yes.

Was it excruciatingly painful to see him again, and did I feel sad about all the years we’d lost?


But I’m so glad I did it. We mended something we’d never been able to before—just by being together. We didn’t have any big conversations about what had pulled us apart; my dad isn’t that kind of man. But I felt his love, and he felt mine.

I’m all for revisiting ancient history. I’m not going to go and vent a load of spleen that was never vented, but if there’s something I know in my heart I need to say, I don’t care how much time has passed.

Perhaps the fear that we’ll “re-hurt” people by dredging up the past also prevents our initiating contact.

But what if it’s the opposite? What if it’s actually healing?

We can dismiss what we want to say by thinking it’s too obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be said out loud.

All we can do is speak with kindness.

Whatever people’s response, actions and feelings, we have no say in that.

We only have a say in our own.

It’s a personal decision, of course. We can decide it’s not worth going back and saying what we now feel about the past.

But let’s take a moment to re-read that line:

Think of something you’ve regretted. Now do something about it.

Anyone come to mind?

It’s best to be honest about what we’d like as an outcome from our communication—then just let that go and allow it to unfold.

If meeting face-to-face feels too much, there are emails and other digital ways, of course.

There is love in owning our actions and their impact. Love in giving recognition. Love in simply hearing someone and speaking compassionate truth.

There is love in reconciliation. And only love heals.


Relephant Read:

When it Feels like Hell: 7 Questions to Get Unstuck in Love.


Author: Dettra Rose

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Pixabay


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