I believe we each have a light within us that is always ready to shine. And yet, through our human experiences of pain, fear and insecurities, we often hold ourselves back from allowing that light to shine.
I admit that I’ve done this many times in my life. And some of my most painful and ‘light-dimming’ experiences have been in the form of unresolved conflict within a romantic relationship.
But it was from those experiences that I discovered that relationship conflict is one of my greatest teachers, a normal part of life’s journey, and an opportunity unlike any other to find my way back to internal peace.
In 2017, I had one of those “opportunities”, and this is my personal story of how the inner depths of my being helped me transform the darkness of relationship conflict into light.
It was an experience in which an ex-partner (who, up until that time, had been the biggest ‘love of my life’) and a long-term friend decided to pursue their romantic feelings for each other. At first, I thought I was okay with it. He and I had broken up years ago, and the romantic feelings I once had for him had dissipated before we broke up.
But once I let the reality of this situation sink in – and let down the walls of protection I had built around my wounded heart – it hurt me way more than I ever thought possible.
Part of it was due to the fact that, when he and I were together, I often thought there was an attraction between the two of them, but my concern was always dismissed by him as an unnecessary insecurity. And even though we had broken up, the pain of that issue was never resolved, and it was now being triggered.
And part of it was due to the fact that she wasn’t the friend I thought she was, and the way she chose to handle this situation after more than twenty years of friendship felt like a stab to my heart.
There were other elements too, but for the illustrative purpose of this story, let’s just say the whole thing felt really shitty! So, what did I do? I let myself feel the pain, and I gave myself full permission to feel all of it.
I felt betrayed, I felt sad, I felt hurt, and I felt disappointed. I cried a lot, and I welcomed the tears. I knew deep down that these tears weren’t just from the pain of this particular experience, they were also from all of the unresolved pain from my relationship with him, which I wasn’t even aware I was still holding onto.
This was an excellent reminder of how unresolved pain will continue showing up until I learn what I need to learn from it and am then able to heal it. In some ways, I believe some of the pain from this experience was linked all the way back to childhood wounds of abandonment. It was deep, and the flood of tears helped me release so much of it.
I had many moments of feeling angry, and I let myself feel that anger – and ultimately released it – by punching pillows, yelling and cussing, crumbling up my journal entries and throwing them across the room, etc., all in the privacy of my own home.
Anger is a strong emotion, and it doesn’t feel good. But I’ve learned that it’s there for a reason, and if I stuff it down or just project it onto the person who triggered it, it won’t go away. Giving myself permission to acknowledge it, feel it, and express it in a healthy way helped me let go of it. And when I was able to let go of of it, then I was able to forgive.
Because they had both been a big part of my life, I didn’t like the idea of losing them as friends (he and I had remained friends even after we broke up). I didn’t want to believe that they would treat me this way, and my mind started spinning with thoughts of how I could somehow make sense of this, and therefore feel okay about it.
I even found myself trying to rationalize their behavior…because they didn’t mean to hurt me. But as I let myself just feel what I was feeling, and worked through the wide range of motions, the light of my inner guidance reminded me that I deserve to have true friends. And that, even when I choose to forgive someone’s hurtful behavior, it doesn’t mean I need to continue sharing my life with them.
There is much more to this experience than what I can share in a blog post – and it took some time to clean up the emotional debris of this upset – but once I processed and worked through the pain, I was able to see the gifts of light that came from this experience of darkness.
Much like any experience of grief and/or relationship conflict, my experience in this situation had many layers to it. Each time a new layer came up, it showed me what I needed to know in order to feel it, process it, let go of what I needed to let go of, and move on to the next layer.
And each time that happened, I gained a greater level of clarity on what the Universe asked me to see in all of this. This was definitely a gift, and it helped me see things that I had protected myself from seeing before.
I could see that, on a subconscious level, I had attracted this upset to give me the blessing of another opportunity to work through layers of unresolved pain at a much deeper level.
Perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for it before, but the Universe knew I was ready for it now. And when the unexpected pain came up as strongly as it did, I knew I had to show up for myself and face it. I knew from prior experience that I needed to learn and heal as much as I possibly could so that I wouldn’t continue carrying this baggage around.
We all know the experience of pain within our relationships, and I’m sharing this personal story with you because I want you to know that none of us are alone in this. We certainly can’t pretend to understand exactly what other people are going through, but we all understand what it feels like to be hurt by people we love, and it never feels good.
A normal human reaction is to stuff that pain down and build walls of protection around our hearts. But I’ve discovered that when I build those walls, I unintentionally keep the pain in and block the love out.
By letting those walls down, yes, I felt a lot of unexpected pain, but then I had the blessing of releasing it and letting it go. And the more I let go of all that weight, the lighter I felt, and the more clarity and peace of mind I gained. It was a true blessing!
Our relationships and lives are not meant to just happen without our taking part in their journey. And it’s often the painful experiences that give us the greatest gifts of learning how to show up for ourselves in a bigger and more loving way than we ever have before.
I am thankful for the experiences that have helped me learn to believe in myself and my ability to handle whatever comes my way!
Catherine Dietz is the founder of A Healthy Path to Love, a licensed Heal Your Life® Coach with over 5 years of experience, and an empowering speaker in guiding women to a clear decision about whether to stay or go in their romantic relationship.
Her passion and purpose is to show women how to tap into the wisdom of their heart, gain the clarity, confidence and courage needed to speak their truth, and either reconnect with their partner in a way that feels good, or gracefully let go of a relationship that no longer serves its purpose.
Having faced the decision to stay or go in her own personal life, Catherine was called to create The HEALTHY Path Process, a step-by-step program to guide and support women in making a clear decision with self-awareness, integrity, grace and compassion.
Catherine currently has a new free video training series to help women find their answer to the question of should I stay or should I go? You can find all the information you need here: http://healthypathtolove.com/
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