Learning from Bad Relationships, Part 1.

The below is the first part of a series of real life examples.

I have learned a lot from bad experiences, particularly from bad relationships. Pain has always gotten my attention and has been the driving motivation to learn and to change. There were a number of reasons for my getting into and having difficulty getting out of bad relationships the most important being not feeling worthy of love.

My parents, who were both children of immigrants, never told me that they loved me. They assumed that I would just know. And I think that they felt that compliments would cause me to be egotistical. As I entered teenage years and started dating, my mother became increasingly critical, and controlling. I was repeatedly threatened to be expelled from the family if I did not obey the rules of the house. And during one particular day when I was 14, she was angry because I had rearranged all the kitchen cookware and she couldn’t find what she wanted. And she said “Who’ll marry you? Who will live with you?” This cut deep into my psyche.

Another reason for my unhappy relationships was that I did not talk to anyone about my relationships. Indeed, I did not know who could provide the feedback, wisdom and guidance I needed. Another reason was that I was not paying attention to my gut. I did not know how to interpret gut level feelings, and, consequently, I was not acting on them.

Your gut is a vital part of discernment. Yet when you get an uncomfortable feeling that something is ‘off’, what does that mean? How is it ‘off’? And what does that mean as to what you should do about it? Can you trust that uneasy feeling? Is it a serious warning of danger or just a caution to slow down and sort some things out? Does it mean that something can’t be fixed? Should you stop what you are doing or about to do, end a relationship, break ties, move out, quit? Should you take some action, and if so what?

Part 1. The Night Before the Wedding

Decades ago I was dating a man that seemed incredibly romantic. He was a fantastic dancer, which is how we met. He would leave love notes inside the kitchen cabinet. He was supportive of my career. He was great with my young son. And it was partly because my son was acting out and very much needed the guidance of a loving but firm hand from a father figure that I sought to marry him. As a single mom, I needed help. I also felt that I needed a man to protect me from my ex-husband who had threatened to kill me. And in those days a respectable woman could not sleep around nor have a boyfriend move in with her and her children without getting married.

But the night before the wedding this man was particularly harsh with my son, and it made me question if I was doing the right thing. My mother pleaded with me not to go through with the ceremony. But everything was ready to go in less than 18 hours and I didn’t think I would be able to reach everyone. Soloists and a full professional choir were traveling two or more hours away for what was to be a big musical production. Then there was all the food, and so many guests for whom I did not have phone numbers. I had to make a decision quickly if  I was going to reach everyone in order to cancel. Would that even be possible? It was now too late to just delay matters and take a time out. Cancelling the wedding would be ending the relationship. 

I decided that it must be just wedding jitters on my lover’s part, and so we were married. But that one instance of harshness with my son turned out to the portent of serious problems to come and we divorced a year later. 

I believe we can learn from even the most painful and humiliating experiences. And so I ask myself:

What can I learn from this? 

  • If I could do it all over again, what would I have done differently and could that have made a difference?
  • Was I too hasty in getting involved, too naive, too trusting? 
  • Did I fail to lay down proper guidelines for the relationship whether business or personal? 
  • Did I gloss over early clues or problems which subsequently grew bigger and now more difficult/expensive/emotionally upsetting to rectify? 
  • Was I so heavily invested that extraditing myself was going to be painful, and so to avoid the pain, I did little but complain but do nothing of substance? 
  • Was I more afraid or ashamed to admit I was wrong or for others to know I screwed up and so I pretended otherwise? Was I just saving face?
  • Knowing what I know now, how will I act going forward?

Awareness Born Out of Pain Can Make You a Better Person

Knowing how it feels to be treated badly, how thoughtless words can sting, and how loving words not said can also hurt, can provide the needed awareness in the wounded person to do the opposite. As a result of experiencing negative consequences from not being told by my parents that I was loved, I have made it a point to end every conversation and email with my son, other family members and friends with “love you”.

Let me know what you think. What have you learned from your own unpleasant experience/s? Send any questions or comments to Roxanne@RoxanneLouise.com.

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to http://www.roxannelouise.com and http://unlimitedpotentialhealingcenter.com  are included with the content.

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