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January 19, 2021

How to Build & Nurture a Relationship that Stands the Test of Time.

Opening our hearts, admitting our wrongs, and loving imperfectly.

“The truth is, I wasn’t happy with myself at the time, and the trickle effect had an impact on those I love and care for the most.”

Admitting we were wrong or hurtful is a kind, brave, and human thing to do. It requires the demolition of our defenses and invites us to open our hearts, stepping into the shoes of others and making an amends for our wrongdoings. 

It also demands that we remove all expectations with the awareness that our apology may not restore a relationship or instantly put us back in good graces. 

If we are only apologizing to get something we want, then we really should reconsider.

An apology should be to relieve the pain and suffering of those we have hurt, as well as bring us a sense of peace and freedom—and it is critical that it be in that order. The ego needs silencing and the vulnerability needs to be loud. The intentions need to be good and our motives pure.

Before we initiate an amends, we need to take the time to discover, then come to understand the how and why behind our actions. If we do not, we are at a high risk for making the same mistakes again—and again, and again. 

Equally as important, if not more, we risk unconsciously wounding others.

When we hurt others—whether intentionally or unintentionally—we may injure innocent, caring people who desire nothing more than to please, love, and care for us. We leave them baffled, wondering what they did wrong. They may spend ample time obsessing and rationalizing their every word and action, blaming themselves for the how and why and where a relationship went wrong. 

The result is ultimate pain when they start to believe something is wrong with them. That they are the cause of the destruction when, in actuality, they were a casualty of your own pain, hurt, and fear.

How many times had I been hurt in love?

Countless times and, in some ways, I am permanently scarred. What I’d neglected to do—or chosen not to—was to take an inventory of how many people I may have hurt over the years. Those selfless souls who so freely shared their vulnerability and goodness with me—and who I may have unintentionally injured.

Yes, I’m bruised from the cons, cheats, and liars—but how many are bruised because of me? 

My ego says no one, for who am I to think that I made such an impact on someone’s well-being? Let that go, girl. 

Yet when I step into the shoes of those others, I may have unknowingly hurt some decent, caring, and generous souls in my youth. I know pain. And I am honest enough to admit when I have inflicted it.

Toxic and narcissistic. We apply these labels liberally when it comes to relationships these days. However, there are some people who have good intentions—but you’ve heard what they say about the road to hell? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

There are some who harbor a deep pain and fear that they may not even be aware of. They unconsciously hurt others because they’re hurting inside and project that onto you. I’ve been there. And it took me more than half a lifetime to come to see this behavior within myself.

Toxicity and narcissism? Yes, there are extreme forms and deliberate manipulators. But there are also those of us who don’t even realize that we’re possibly toxic or acting in a way that resembles narcissism.

With experience and the willingness to examine ourselves in a brutally honest manner, we finally have that aha moment. Then we are faced with the fact that we haven’t always been a victim of love, but we’ve actually been one of those who is capable of deeply hurting another emotionally.

How could I have been such an asshole?

People more often than not believe that being selfless is an altruistic and admirable trait. Not always so. When selflessness and altruism mix with codependency and control, it’s a lethal combination. The destruction is catastrophic and the carnage devastating.

When we cross that border and enter a territory that looks toward others to bring us joy, fulfillment, and contentment, or a variety of other wants and needs that we are not giving to ourselves—we are setting ourselves and those we love up to suffer and fail. 

How do we make sure this doesn’t happen?

Be aware. Be present. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be real.

Don’t ever look to another to make you happy. Don’t look for someone else to justify your existence and make you feel good. That’s placing a big burden on the person you love. They have their own issues and daily pressures. It’s inevitable that we will let each other down from time to time, but mainly because of our own expectations.

Self-esteem and happiness are internal jobs. We can look toward others to enhance our lives, but not to be our lives. Find your joy and satisfaction so that you’re not dependent on theirs. 

Relationships require give-and-take. Don’t be selfless until you’ve been selfish—in learning who you are, what you want, and how to give and receive love in a healthy, mature way. You cannot be a true partner until you gain some traction with your inner work.

Sure, we all act childish and play the fool here and there, but it should be a rare occurrence and not the norm.

You don’t have to be perfect. Just be real. When you’re honest within yourself, you can be honest with others.

Listen with the intent to understand, not project. Stop trying to fix every issue in your partner’s life. Often, they just need a person to listen to them and be heard. Be willing to be a friend, a support, and love them—as they are.

Practice kindness and compassion. Allow for mistakes. Expect some hurt—we all let each other down from time to time. But it doesn’t have to be dramatic or catastrophic. It can just be a bump in the road if we don’t make mountains out of molehills. Communicate. Ask for what you need. Speak your mind. Respect yourself. Respect your partner. Be open. Be fair. And be patient. With yourself. With each other.

May you possess the self-knowledge that results in self-trust, and a keen judgment in seeking a partner who can work with you, helping to carry the baggage should it get too heavy from time to time.

Together, you can build and nurture a loving relationship that will stand the test of time.

~

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