I was having a conversation recently about a couple who are in the midst of some turbulent times in their relationship. It’s possible that they may not make it to the forever they promised one another. It’s commonly said that in any relationship it will not always be ‘peaches and cream.’
Well it’s true that life in itself is at times very challenging. Externally there are things going on all around us that grab our attention. We have goals, wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes it’s as simple as survival. From where will come our next meal? How will the rent get paid? Whether goals or stresses, these will abide no matter what. I’ve heard it said that in life we are either going through something, about to through something or recently came through something. We don’t need to be coupled up to have these challenges. They will be with us regardless.
So what does this say about relationship? Are they hard or are they easy?
As I think about it, I don’t believe relationships are hard. I believe WE are hard. It’s easy in the beginning to find favor with someone we like, care for or love. We even know going in that the object of our desire is not a perfect person. We know that he/she has faults. If we are self aware we also understand that we are deeply flawed or at least far from perfection in a human sense. There will always be room for growth no matter what stage in life we are in. And yet when someone has our favor we are graceful towards our partner’s imperfections. Some of us overlook them altogether. Some of us who are a bit wiser recognize them yet view our partner’s imperfections as an opportunity to step up and really show love and compassion towards him/her. Either way, it’s not the relationship that is the problem. It’s us!
At some point in relationships it is us who change. We become less graceful towards our partner. We become stubborn, resentful, unforgiving with a hardened heart. We become rigid, impatient, judgmental, prideful, lazy, and self absorbed. We forget or refuse to remember the first fruits of what attracted and connected us in the first place. We stop putting in the work of developing our own character to grow and be a better person and by extension a better partner.
It’s easy to love when ‘things’ are good and going our way, right? However, love is strengthened through trials and tribulations when we as people decide that no matter what is going on externally, we are determined to remember and maintain a basic foundation of humanity and decency when we think of and address our partner. When he/she misses the mark in our opinion, we can choose compassion instead of spite. We can choose soft words or if necessary temporary silence in the midst of conflict or pressure. We can choose to remember that our partner is a person who needs the same grace and kindness that we desire when we are not our best selves. We can decide to never ever remove the emotional security blanket that assures our partner that he/she is never alone and will always be received and accepted; without question. We all have and will always have faults as well as external distractions. Through love and devotion our partnership can grow us under the tent of a security that says, “No matter what, I’ve got your back.”
Always remember, nothing great and worthwhile happens by accident. Love is an action word. It is achieved, maintained and perfected intentionally!
Have you ever found yourself in so much emotional pain that you stepped outside of your character; that you became a person you didn’t recognize? Ever had that feeling for a few fleeting moments that your entire world was falling apart? And the intensity of anger caused by deception, betrayal and or rejection was so strong, that you found yourself in your most primitive state of mind; as if you were a barbarian who doesn’t understand reason or language, only the most tender and unabashed reactionary flailing towards both survival and hopelessness simultaneously?
Have you had that inward confrontation after writing something in a state of desperateness angst, having to decide whether to hit ‘send’, (email or social media) whether to dial a phone number, whether to drive to the certain place, approach the door, knock on that door, knowing that there are no scenarios in which this will result in something positive, let alone beautiful. Logically you are fully aware. But in the moment you DON”T CARE!
Have you ever been there?
(people on video unknown to author)
As a matter of fact, more of us have been there than care to admit. It’s not uncommon at all. I’ll get to that later. What I want to address is what to do about it in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience. Unaddressed, the affects of this trauma can linger and hide dormant. You may think it’s not there. But in reality it’s ready to be unleashed in a moment’s notice. After the meltdown in addition to the residual anger, you may feel guilty or foolish over the way you behaved. You may sense some feelings of hopelessness. This is because in that state of rage, consequences are not seriously considered.
“What if I do something to cause me to go to jail? What if I hurt someone or I am the one seriously injured or worse? I don’t care. The only thing that matters is that I deal with this thing that is killing my soul! Whatever the consequences are, I will live with them!”
This is what hopelessness does.
Whether you quenched the thirst of the blood you wanted in the heat of your desire, or you walked away before the most damage could be done, here are some suggestions to deal with the aftermath of this emotional and psychological trauma.
1. Acknowledge And Own It:Something happened and whether it’s ultimately justifiable or not, you went to a dangerously dark place. You are wounded and the residue of the damage probably isn’t going away quickly.
2. Be Good To Yourself:There is nothing wrong with you. The only differences between temporary or permanent insanity for any persons are brain chemistry balance and/or a special set of circumstances. It’s a blessing to have any sanity at all on a regular day. No matter how calm and logical we are as people, sweet and beautifully innocent, (HA!) the fact of the matter is, if we are pushed far enough into a corner and all other key ingredients are present, we can change in an instant to become our worse selves. The most dangerous mental state to be in is when we feel we have nothing to lose. When that happens, life altering worst case scenarios are but a moment away.
3. Be Thankful: If you aren’t in jail, and haven’t hurt anyone then you survived having to deal with the legal ramifications of the situation. You can start the process of healing and start to recognize and understand your own potential towards internal fragility.
4. Compartmentalize Your Steps: People say, “One day at a time. Soon after the trauma, the sting can linger causing the day to seem eternal. You may have to take things in groups of 10-15 minutes. If that is the case, then accept it.
5. Allow yourself to properly grieve: You can’t push the grief aside. Trying to mask or cover the pain is like trying to push a rubber ball under a pool of water. You can hold it there but for so long. Eventually it’s going to rise back up. For each time it comes back it’s going to eat at you a little more as anger and resentment increase. It increases because we want the person to acknowledge or pay for their sins against us. Each time that ball rises, it breaks the surface of your heartstrings reopening the wounds afresh. Allow yourself the grace of experiencing the grief process without allowing it to overtake you. When you sense it coming over you, tell yourself you will allow for a few minutes or hours to experience grief, then at the appointed time, direct you energies to something else until it’s time to grieve again.
6. Get Help: Doesn’t matter if you talk to a trusted friend, or seek the help of a professional therapist. You need an outlet and someone to give you a loving and affirming word. When you are by yourself, you may get into some meditations practices to began to train your mind on radical acceptance, self peace, self love and forgiveness. You may have to forgive someone, yourself or both. There are some wonderful meditations on YouTube for differing challenges. Check them out. Try some of these ideas, all or more if necessary.
7. Decide What The End Game Is: Where do you want to end up when it’s all said and done. What does the best case scenario look like? What will healing look like? What will it take? How are we going to get closure? Are the questions of why important? Do you seek answers from the party who hurt you? Truth is, unfortunately we may or may not get the answers we seek from the other person. Still we must manage to survive.
8. Exercise Humility, Grace, and Forgiveness: We are all human. No matter how great of a path we have walked, we have all hurt people, disappointed loved ones, and behaved in ways that are at best regrettable. Seek to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is not excusing or even justifying the behavior that hurt. It’s simply recognizing that the other person is a person. He/she is not perfect nor in reality worse than we are. For we too have in times past been the torturer. What determines the people we are or who we turn out to be? Do we have a conscious or are we sociopaths? Do we care about causing damage to others or are we out for destruction? Are we redeemable and should we get a second or a 99th chance at life and happiness? If we can see the person who hurt us as simply human, we free ourselves from self-righteousness. We can legitimately have done some things or most everything right, and still be wronged! We are legitimate people even when we are hurt. We have a right to ask for and even demand answers, regardless of whether we get those answers or not. But that does not allow us the privilege to become self-righteous using our pain as a pedestal to stand on. We should seek to gain the search for peace and contentment for our own sake. And if anything, perhaps our experience will push us even harder to be the quality people we seek when seeking to share our lives with another. Beloved, oh how I wish you grace, peace and eventually joy as you walk through this journey. May you be healed. And may you find the love you truly desire.
I have known for years that I carry anger around for different reasons. And at times it has manifest iself in different ways. For instance, for most of my life I’ve struggled with depression at some times or others. I’ve heard that depression is in effect ‘repressed anger.’ I can believe that.
Most wouldn’t know about the anger because I am generally a “happy- go- lucky” person. When I am around friends or collegues at work this is the side they see most often. My natural make up is to spread joy and offer encouragement. I love to see a genuine smile on someone’s face. And I enjoy helping to create that smile whether it’s by some form of serving, saying a kind word or saying something humerous. I get a lot out of seeing other people happy.
Often, I find myself giving out a lot without asking much in return. Perhaps I get angry because I wish that sometimes people understood that I may need a little something something back. It’s natural for people to think that the “happy guy” is always OK and is never in need of attention or encouragement. And then sometimes when I do ask, sometimes folks are looking around strangly as if I asked for a first born or something. This is because they are not used to it.
“What you? Need something?”
Then there is the supressed anger that I recognize. It happens because sometimes I see things or feel as if someone may be trying to take advantage of the kindness I try to offer or the contributions I try to make. In those cases I get kinda stuck because in one sense I would like to communicate my displeasure. But in my nature if I do I try to do it in a way that preserves the other person’s dignity. I try to approach people the way I want to be approached. I try to avoid being too harsh or just letting them have it.
More times than not however, I find that this approach does not work. In far too many instances people seem to take kindness for weakness. And at some point it’s going to come out and I am going to go OFF. At that point that creates an issue of having to possibly repair the damage done within conflict of the anger expressing moments. I’m saying to myself, “Why could you not listen when I broke it down gently before? I said the same thing basically, except this time I added a MF or SH to it which finally got your attention.”
Then I am angry that I even had to go there.
The thing is this: Most days I can just move on and think of the positive and not carry this stuff with me. But at the same time, I find that many of these issues are not really resolved, but rather just tucked away till the next time. So then there is resentment on top of resentment – anger on top of anger
I know that anger itself is not a totally negative emotion. I know it has it’s place. But I am not sure how to use it to my advantage without doing or saying things against my nature.