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When Love Isn’t Enough

August 3, 2009

I’ve been flying under the radar the last couple of months after a rather preoccupied ride on that oscillating happy-sad rollercoaster called love. Now that I’ve got my own head around it, I think it’s time to share another one of my epic love-life case studies.

I recently got knocked for six by one of life’s little curve-balls that came from way out of left field. Less metaphorically speaking, I reconnected with my ex-partner of four years who I talked about in my story. We randomly met up one day and realised there was still a mutual spark between us, regardless of everything that had happened in the past. This somewhat belated realisation hit us both square in the face like a wet fish. Although we had been apart for years, it felt as though no time had elapsed. The time we spent together felt like arriving home after a long journey.

We decided to give our relationship it another shot. It was one of those times where my heart was impatiently pulling me in his direction saying ‘go for it, go for it!’ but my head was just as insistently telling me to keep my distance since he had only recently broken up with his ex-girlfriend. My heart won, despite pointed reminders through my romantic history that love is not a Mills & Boon novel. Giving my heart free reign and putting a proverbial blindfold over my intuition and my head was my first mistake. The short version of the story is I came out of the experience with a broken heart, a couple of well-oiled tear ducts, and hopefully a bit more sense.

Anyway, enough of me being overly-dramatic and onto the nitty-gritty stuff as it applies to you.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, there are a few absolutely fundamental building blocks that any good relationship has to have to flourish. They are trust, respect, and clear, honest, communication. Without these things, it is impossible to have a genuine, loving connection with a person.

If you are in the position where you are considering re-connecting with an ex, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration. First of all, realise that you broke up for a reason. Was it a good reason? If so, how have you both changed, and do you both have the maturity and willingness to work through your issues? If you broke up and one or both of you got hurt, there must be true forgiveness and willingness to work through things on both sides. There is no place in a loving relationship for revenge, retaliation, or malice.

When I speak of forgiveness, I don’t just mean forgiving your partner. I’m talking about forgiveness of the self as well. In my case, I was carrying around a lot of dormant self-blame for some of my past actions. I had forgiven the people who had wronged me long ago, but I hadn’t completely forgiven myself.

This step of self-forgiveness is the most important step of all;  much more important than being able to forgive anyone else. If you don’t feel as though you can forgive yourself for your past mistakes, how can you expect anyone else to forgive you? How can you truly accept yourself until you feel you can release yourself from the shackles of self-blame?

Part of the reason I returned to this relationship was out of love, but there was also an element of guilt. I felt indebted to the person who had loved me unconditionally despite my mistakes. When I had my own heart broken by the same person that I once hurt, in my own mind I saw it as completing a karmic circle, bringing me back to an emotional neutral rather than feeling as though I was in the red. If I would have realised that I didn’t need to keep blaming myself for mistakes I made in the past, I wouldn’t have needed to be hurt to release myself from my self-inflicted emotional prison.

I don’t feel anger, resentment, or negativity towards this person for hurting me. Like any wound, there is a sadness in my heart that will take some time to heal, but like every other step on my journey it has been a valuable learning experience. Sometimes, life gives you a gentle nudge towards a lesson you need to learn. If you continue to ignore the nudge, life will proceed to drop you off a cliff and run over you with a steam-roller until you get what it’s trying to tell you. So, after lying on the ground watching that steam-roller happily fade into the distance, I now carry with me the understanding that I no longer need to continue subconsciously whip myself on the back in self-blame. A hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

You may be asking yourself as you read this if it can ever work with an ex-partner. In my case, it didn’t work out, but that’s certainly not to say this is the case for everyone. Like any good relationship, it can flourish if there is a genuine mutual respect, trust, positive intent, and honest communication. Your intuition will tell you when something feels right or wrong. Learn from my mistake and listen to it – there’s no need to get run over by a steam-roller when a gentle poke in the ribs from yours truly will suffice. 🙂

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