Sometimes it Hurts Like Hell

No lesson is ever wasted; you need what you need to grow, and you figure things out in your own time. You may have crashed into a brick wall, and you may have done it consciously, but sometimes we need the lesson more than once to fully get it, and be done with it. I can look back on my life and tell you with complete candor, there were some experiences I repeated (in different ways) like I was taking remedial dating. How to Pick People Who Will Break Your Heart 101, over and over again until I decided I really wanted to graduate from that class. Usually when you can spot a pattern, you can also locate a huge marker for a place where you still have healing to do.

Yogis call painful patterns in our lives “samskaras”, Freud called it the “repetition compulsion”, Jung famously stated, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”, and Einstein on this: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Kicking yourself compounds the problem; what you need is compassion. If you have a history of picking people who hurt you in one way or another, you really have to figure out what it is within you that believes you deserve that. Chances are, you’re trying to rewrite history, so you look for a dynamic that has that very strong, very familiar pull. If it feels like home, if I’m obsessed and consumed and feel a little addicted to the interaction, this must be love, right? Not so much. If it has that sick pull to it, there’s almost definitely something very old at play for you.

I had a boyfriend when I was seventeen. He was twenty years older than I was. Already off to a good start, aren’t we? He was emotionally distant and had a history of infidelity with every woman he’d ever dated, but I was sure I could save him. I could be so perfect he’d commit and be faithful, and not just faithful, but also happy. I don’t even need to write anymore, do I? You can’t save other people, you can only love them, and why would you choose to love someone who makes no time for you and sees other people on the side? What could possibly be enticing about that? That’s always the stuff to look at, your own participation, and what it is within you that doubts you’re worthy of love. I wish I could say I broke up with him and made better choices after that, but as I mentioned, it took me awhile. I had to ride that train into the brick wall until my head hurt and my heart hurt and I finally thought, “Enough.” You decide you’re going to get serious about healing when you’re ready, and not a moment sooner.

In the meantime, being kind to yourself is key. If you’re heading for a brick wall and you know it, by all means try to figure out why you aren’t taking better care of yourself. After you hit the wall, see if you can walk in a different direction instead of heading back to the station, because you can’t rewrite history. No train can take you back there so you can get your happy ending. Whatever happened shaped you and informed the way you look at the world, but it doesn’t have to define you. You may have to unlearn some very old ideas you’ve been carrying around. Sometimes the lens we’re looking through is very foggy and the depth-perception isn’t great. You might need to wipe those lenses, especially if you’ve been burdened with the idea that you aren’t worthy of love. You are love. You’re made of love. You may have covered it over with fear or shame or doubt, with insecurity or rage or bitterness or hopelessness. So you may have some digging to do. Find a path of healing that works for you, and don’t stop searching for it until you do. Yoga was the thing that turned my life around, that transformed me from a person who kept getting on the train to heartbreak, to a person who wouldn’t get on that train again if it was the last one running. Human beings are incredible, and so is the human heart. It can break, but the breaking can open you. It can soften you and strengthen you at the same time. You don’t have to let your past harden you, life doesn’t feel very good that way. Wishing you the strength to face your fear and love yourself, so you can open to love in all areas of your life, because life feels great that way.

Sending a hug and an icepack if you need one,

Ally Hamilton

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