How to move on…from the
The past two years have been very difficult for me. An unhealthy relationship that I nurtured for years became toxic, and enough was enough: I had to pull away. With the help of my husband and a counselor, I took the first step in setting boundaries to protect myself. Within a week the relationship ended horribly, and a friend of 13 years became an enemy. As time went on, the betrayal became too much for me to handle. I couldn’t sleep, I became more depressed, and I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (which is a mild version of PTSD) by my counselor.
The betrayal was all I thought and talked about. I dreamed about it. I had flashbacks all day and especially at night. I had panic attacks when I would have to go out in public because I feared seeing the people who had hurt me and my family so badly. I had no idea who I could trust, and I withdrew from everyone but my husband and parents.
It can be very hard to move past your past. Our hearts and minds are strong influences over each other and when one is talking, the other listens. That’s why it’s important to consider both the heart and mind when dealing with your pain. Distinguishing between fact and our feelings can be the missing piece you need to move on.
Here are the tools that helped me to deal with my heart and mind, and the pain that vexed them both.
1.) Never underestimate the power of prayer for YOU
Prayer is an expression of your soul to God. Praying when you’re hurt or angry can be an effective way to relieve the stress you are feeling. I can remember times when I couldn’t be honest with myself because I was too ashamed to admit things, but somehow when I began to pray, everything started to tumble out. Don’t be afraid to come to Your Heavenly Father about what hurts and angers you.
He cares about you. Even if your feelings are not all rainbows and kittens, you can still talk to God about them in prayer. When no one else is there, God is always there for you. Going to Him first is also a wonderful way to help collect yourself before asking others for advice about your problems. This is the first step.
2.) Take some time to yourself to evaluate your thoughts and feelings
It may be too soon to distinguish what you are actually feeling, and that’s okay. You may feel numb. You may only feel one emotion, such as anger or sadness. For a long time my heart felt like a big ball of knotted, dirty string. I couldn’t figure out anything past, “I’m furious,” or “I’m depressed.” That’s why evaluating your emotions can be a useful place to start. One emotion can contain ten others. For example, I felt furious…because I felt betrayed, threatened, scared, insecure, and controlled.
The next time you remember the pain, go get alone. Write a list of all the emotions that you feel, and why you feel that way– as simply as you can. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. This exercise is for you and no one else. If you feel hatred, write it down. Don’t be afraid to write down why you feel that way, even if it’s something you are ashamed to admit, or if it doesn’t make sense. Being honest with yourself when there is no pressure to explain to others can produce deep insight as to what is really going on inside of you.
3.) Forgive yourself, then others
After all this processing, it’s a great time to forgive others and even yourself. If you haven’t thought to forgive yourself, it could be a missing part of your healing process. I was angry with myself for nurturing a relationship that was my greatest source of torment that I almost felt I had deserved the pain I incurred because of it.
I had to blame someone, and I felt that I shared the blame with my enemy. This is so harmful for your mental health. Choosing not to forgive yourself is probably one of the worst things you can do, because you will have no relief from your feelings of hatred! You have to live with yourself. You can never get away from you.
Forgiveness doesn’t excuse or justify what someone has done to you. Forgiveness is a decision that honors God and frees you from that person. You can forgive someone without forgetting what they did. As a Christian, when you forgive others, you are submitting to God’s authority and are giving Him the power to be your vindicator. He says in Deuteronomy 32:35 that vengeance is His. He does it best, and it’s His job. Don’t trouble yourself with trying to make people pay or holding it against yourself. Moving on is about letting go.
4.) Consider the benefits of professional help
Counseling can be a catalyst to your healing. If you know what you need, don’t hesitate to express that to your counselor and ask for help. A counselor offers a service, that you pay for. That means, to some extent you have control. You can go into a meeting and express your hopes and expectations first off. There is freedom and safety when talking to a trained professional who has no involvement in your personal life. When you feel that you cannot talk to anyone around you, a good counselor is perfect for these scenarios.
A good counselor will listen and offer unbiased advice. They won’t judge you, and if you don’t decide to take their advice, you can cut the relationship off. Ultimately, you have to be ready to change, and you are the only one who can make that decision. Also, keep in mind that a counselor is sworn to secrecy. Unless you are hurting yourself or someone else, you can rest assured that your deepest secrets can remain in the room you let them out in. Some insurance companies also offer mental health benefits.
5.) Write a closure letter
This letter is not intended to be sent, but is for your eyes only. This is the type of letter you tuck away in a diary or shred after you write it. The purpose of writing this letter is to give you the opportunity to say everything you have always wanted to say, but couldn’t or didn’t. This letter is for closure, and what a better way to give yourself closure than to be able to express how you feel, if at least for yourself?
Pour your heart out, bring up the ugly, even point fingers. This is a private letter for your eyes only, and in the process you will discover feelings and memories you thought were dealt with. Then, when those old feelings come back to you, deal with them so you can keep moving on. Think of this exercise like the tradition of beating the dirt out of rugs every Spring. It’s hard work, and you might get some dirt on you, but the process is worth not bringing that dirt back in your house. Everyone deserves a clean place to rest their weary souls. (Pun intended, teehee)
God Bless and Happy Healing!