By Brittany Tasesa

Healing continues even within relationships.

Despite the logical identification of the fact, I remain regularly surprised at the continuity of the healing journey. There is no one size fits all, no quick fix, no cure for literally anything and no matter how much reflection, shadow-work, self-confrontation and acknowledgement you do, something you thought you had overcome will crop up, out of the blue, and usually at the most random and inopportune times.

I suppose, that the time one spends working through a particular problem does correlate to the frequency and intensity of its likely return. But, until that time, how do you ever really know that you have addressed it to the best of your ability?

Like most things, and somewhat annoyingly so, trying your best seems to be the only viable option.

When it comes to my relationship, despite several occurrences which have highlighted that I am still a healing gal, the recurring nature of it continues to take me by surprise. When I wrote him a letter to advise him of his successful appointment to boyfriend status (really it was very sweet and sentimental; “I choose you” I said), a few hours later I was having an existential crisis in the passenger seat wondering what I had gotten myself in to (despite having spent time very clearly thinking upon my decision), when I moved away and we started learning how to navigate long distance there were multiple instances where I feared losing myself to the whims of another person (something I had already acknowledged as a lack of my own boundaries from previous relationships), and when he chose to leave his home and family and move cities to be with me, I entered another period of panic mode, catastrophising all the potential ways the relationship could fall apart (this man was transitioning his whole life for me, how could I possibly give enough back to match such a gesture!).

And despite those experiences (and some), which were mostly triggered by my past experiences and relationships, I was still surprised to experience another period of panic, fear and moments of existential crisis when we finally moved in together.

The thing is, when we overcome challenges, we think we are more prepared and more adept at recognising the early warning signs, it’s happened before so we feel our communication is better, and that our approach will be different, but every time it seems to creep up insidiously; oozing through the wounds we didn’t realise we had left opened and by the time we do catch on, we have already been slowly spiralling into a pit of memories, dread and fear to the point where hooking our fingers in and dragging ourselves out becomes this horrendously, momentous task.

And so when I reflect back, I can see that since he moved, I have been feeling a huge amount of pressure to be more present and attentive that I normally would and which is also above his requirements. This deep-rooted fear of not being enough has resurfaced and I fear that he will leave me once he realises this too.

It has resulted in my over-extending myself; forgetting that he fell in love with the person who did not give above her capacity and gave in a way that aligned with her strengths (holding a space where someone feels safe to talk about their feelings and thoughts is super underrated – or at least something I am still working on not underrating myself). It has resulted in my micro-analysing his behaviour; forgetting that vibes are not necessarily reality-based and that if they are, they are not necessarily about me (e.g. feeling like he is annoyed at me when really he might be annoyed at something he just watched, or it might be a different emotion like missing his family, or he might have no feelings whatsovever and my perception is stemming from those feelings of inadequacy).

It has also likely been contributing to us having a few more disagreements than usual (only reporting for myself because I can only speak for me, but that’s not to say I can’t acknowledge that there are always two contributors in some way), which has made me weirdly happy, partially because it has been essential in helping me identify some of the above experiences and subsequent behaviours, and also because seeing how we resolve conflict and how he has interacted with me during times of high emotion has given me so much reassurance and peace that I want to cry. t has made me feel safe; that we can have differing perspectives without being punished, that I can expect open communication at some point even if that is not able to occur immediately (i.e. we both need time to cool off and calm down before coming together again) and I know for certain that I will still be treated with respect, dignity and care both during and afterwards. I am not sure I can truly impress how much this means to me and how much fear I didn’t realise I had when it came to disagreements – that my own words might be weaponised against me or that the other person might play the victim care in response to my expressing feelings about a certain situation or that I would have to be the one to take accountability.

So I suppose the purpose of this is a reminder.

A reminder that you do not have to be fully healed to enter a relationship – I think that just might be a fallacy but ask me again on my death bed,

A reminder that we have the ability to control our own behaviours and reactions even when it feels like the world has been tilted on its axis and that we have the ability to communicate even if that is to say “I don’t know what to say, but this is how I am feeling” and that is your responsibility,

And a reminder that a relationship is not a one-way ticket to happily-ever-after like the PG versions of fairy tales will have you believe. That they require work and effort, but that that work and effort has to be mutual, it has to even out over time, and that even if you are spiralling or triggered, even if emotions are running high or even if you have made a mistake, you should always always always be treated with respect, dignity and care. That disagreements, differing perspectives, intoxication or times of high emotions are never an excuse for demeaning, rude or hurtful behaviour.

So it is okay if you are still healing.

Everybody else is too (even if they don’t realise it).

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