“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
When someone hears that you’ve gone through a divorce or break up, they often ask the overly simplistic question, “What happened?” Yikes, how to sum up a meaningful and long-lasting relationship in a pithy statement? First, let’s address that it’s not so much about what happened in your relationship, as much as it’s about what meaning you made out of it. A million things happened in your relationship and there’s no way to concisely cover it all. But what is the meaning that you have made out of your relationship and why it ended? At the end of a relationship, we can think, “There were problems and we just couldn’t figure out how to fix them,” or, “I failed,” or, “He/she was horrible.” Each thought will evoke different feelings, and each is just a story. The first story carries the least amount of blame and the other two lots of blame. We don’t really know which story is true and how much is perception though. What we do know is that the more often you tell a story, the more you believe it.
The story you tell about your past relationship reveals a lot. Is your tale about allotting blame or about making peace with the past and lessons learned? It happened; the relationship ended and there’s no changing that. What you can change is the fabric of the story you weave. It can be really elaborate and melodramatic and keep you stuck in victimhood. For example, “He/she was a lunatic.” Or, it can be cut to the bone blunt, such as, “It didn’t work, I still can’t figure out why.” Or, even better, it can include some insight and peace, such as, “Didn’t work out and I now know why and if I had known back then, I would have done my part differently.”
What story do you tell about your divorce or last relationship? You can tell that you’re spinning a yarn if it makes you either a complete victim or a villain. But the truth is likely somewhere in the middle: that you both probably could have been more mature and loving at times, but at the time you were both doing what you knew how to do best and it didn’t work. Hopefully now you know better. You can also tell that you’ve let go of the past when your story becomes neutral and there’s no longer a big emotional charge as you tell it.
If your own story is still blame-filled or guilt-ridden, then you could probably benefit from some help with understanding and letting of what happened in your relationship. Letting go of the past will help you to have a healthier, lasting relationship in the future. If you think you could use some help in this area, feel free to contact me at (646) 596-6169. Whether in person or via Skype, I help people to let go of pain from the past in order to create a better future.