Author’s note: As I write this blog, I am finding that there is really two parts to this topic: taking risks in relationships in general, and the process of choosing a person with whom to take a risk. In the interest of not writing a REALLY long post on both parts, I am going to break this into two parts.
A dear, sweet friend of mine, whom I have known since childhood, has been hurt quite a bit lately by relationships. As a result of her pain, this appeared on her Facebook page:
While can appreciate the reason for the sentiment, I’m not sure I agree with the idea behind it.
I got married at the age of 20, mostly because I was pregnant and I needed the father’s health insurance to cover the related health care costs. We had convinced ourselves that we loved each other and that we could make marriage work despite the true reason for marrying. Little did I know that that marriage would end in disaster. While I was no angel in this marriage and contributed to the failure of our marriage, I felt I was treated horribly, including, but not limited to, adultery on his part at least once, probably twice. Then, I was left, and divorced, by the person who had pledged to stick with me through thick and thin.
Relationships are risky. The potential for being hurt, or hurting another, is huge. People often present the best of themselves at the beginning, then the worst of themselves comes out as time goes on. Often, the worst of ourselves, and the other person clash, causing chaos in our relationships. Unless the chaos is effectively worked through or controlled, the result is generally a split (or a divorce if one is married). It has to be said than in some cases, there is no hope for the relationship, no matter how much work goes into the relationship. Splitting up with someone you committed yourself to can cause intense emotional pain. This pain is akin to having a limb ripped from your body, even if the other person was horrible. The suffering can go on for years afterwards. Self-doubt can creep in. Fear of being hurt again becomes the new paradigm. Any potential future relationships are affected by past hurts. One can be come overly-cautious in their attempt to try out this new relationship while avoiding true risk. Which makes the new relationship more likely to fail. Like I said, it’s risky.
When my marriage failed, I was at the beginning of the long healing journey that I have been on. Frankly, at the time my marriage failed, I was not capable of managing the hurt associated with ripping and tearing that was going on. I did not understand myself, nor the reasons that my marriage didn’t work. I was single for about 7 years before my current husband decided he wanted to date me. During that 7 years, I had to do a lot work in counseling, and with God, to overcome the terrible feelings of loss, anger, and sadness. For 7 years, I was a single, working mother struggling to make ends meet, and trying to manage my volatile emotional state and a child who severely struggling as well.
The idea of adding a husband, and stepfather, into the equation was downright scary. Like so many situations I observed, adding a man into my, and my son’s, life was extremely risky and likely to result in chaos. What if my son and husband didn’t get along (they didn’t for a long time)? What if my husband committed adultery like the first one? What if he left me? What if he couldn’t deal with the emotional baggage that came with marrying me (he does with a ton of grace)? What if we just couldn’t work out our problems? What if one of us gave up hope (I’ve been close a dozen times or more)? What if my marriage failed? Taking that step toward marriage again was a huge risk. It could end in disaster like the first one.
The desire to close oneself off to the world, to potential love, to other people becomes intense after a split with someone you once loved. Wrapping yourself up in hard shell of safety really only results in a life half lived. Sure, you are safe from harm, but you are also safe from joy, happiness, fulfillment, and a good, lasting relationship. This hard-shell reality affects how you react to other people, how you make decisions, how you behave in relationships. You cannot fully commit to another person when you live your life this way, even if the person you found is the best person for you.
The heart of the matter is that while putting yourself in a position to not “be let down” feels safe, I believe you are actually risking more than if you allow yourself to take the risk of being hurt. I think I have made that the point that taking risks is dangerous, BUT (with capital letters no less), I believe that taking risks is a necessary part of living life to it’s fullest. Sure, the potential for hurt is there, but the potential for joy is there too. The hurts described above can eventually heal, if you allow that to happen. That’s right, you can heal from the hurt. I would like to add an addendum to this statement: I think that one can make poor choices in partners and end up going the healing process over and over again. If that’s what’s causing you so much pain, I would question how you choose partners. So, we are gonna talk about that in part 2 of this post.
You are not forever tainted by your marriage’s, or relationship’s, failure. You can rise above the associated pain and suffering. You can place yourself in someone else’s hand again. And, if you get hurt, you can heal, again. Unless you allow yourself to take that risk, you don’t know how something is going turn out. You can live a a full life with someone by your side. You can put your trust and hope in someone else’s hand. Let yourself out of your shell.
It’s your turn: do believe you can be healed from the hurt caused by failed relationships?