The following was one of the responses to my most recent piece on The Good Men Project about how to love someone who is dealing with issues from past relationships:
“I however chose to heal alone and become complete and empowered before seeking a new love. The newly divorced me and the three years divorced me are two very different people and I choose different men also. My baggage was quite a weight to carry, but has made me stronger and I’m more skilled in moving through my life with it. I dont think I would be as adept had I dove into seeking assistance with it.”
In some respects, I completely agree with her. I was also significantly altered by my divorce and my interests and attractions changed as a result. I also fully support the idea that it is important to address your trauma and that it is necessary to be whole and happy on your own before you’re even ready to contemplate the idea of a new relationship. And, contrary to how she seems to view my situation, I certainly don’t support diving into a new relationship with the goal of being “saved.”
But from there, our opinions diverge.
It is not possible to completely heal alone.
Yes, you can learn how to be okay on your own. You can address any triggers or trauma that intrude upon your single life.
But as soon as a relationship enters the picture, new issues, related to the past, will emerge that were unnoticed while alone.
And you learn and adapt.
And then the relationship moves to another level, requiring additional vulnerability and trust. And again, the past will whisper.
So you learn and adapt again.
Healing is much more about experiences than time. And some of those experiences can only be done with another.
I find that each “first…since” is another trigger potential and another opportunity for healing –
The first time living with a man since my ex.
The first time trusting someone since my ex.
The first time buying a house since my ex.
The first basement-finishing project since my ex.
The first (and last!) time marrying since my ex.
And, soon, the first cruise since my ex (yippee!!!).
None of those are a sign that I am not healed enough to be in a relationship again. They are simply a sign that the past left its footprints on my heart.
And just like steps, they have to be taken one at a time.