ASK ABDI: HOW CAN I NOT DAMAGE MY NEW RELATIONSHIP?
QUESTION: After separating from my husband, I am now in a new relationship and much happier than before. There is so much understanding, joy, and happiness between us. What unfortunately is still there are old injuries in me: fears of not being good enough and fears of being abandoned. I do not want to burden my new love with these issues. How can I let go of the old injuries and experiences, in order to not damage my new relationship?
How can I find the way back to my old strength? I was always very positive and had so much joy in life. My old relationship destroyed me down to my core.
ANSWER: Wonderful that you have found joy and understanding in a new relationship. As we heal old wounds, we can be open to new experiences. But as you are finding, old wounds do not miraculously disappear, they are within us. Sometimes we can fully heal them. Sometimes becoming fully aware of them is as far as the healing goes. Regardless, they have to be faced. In relationships, as in life, we are as sick as our secrets. What that means is: that what we do not share of ourselves will either not allow the relationship to fully blossom or, in fact, will make it wither over time.
We are all afraid of revealing ourselves to another. We can share a bed with someone for years and be strangers. You do not want that. It is not about “burdening your new love with it”. It is about revealing aspects of yourself with him. Like sharing that “I am afraid of being abandoned”. Taking risks of revealing our deeper fears to a safe person helps form a deep bond. This can both be a healing for you as well as a gift to deepen the relationship. If there are unresolved issues with your ex, seek a therapist and do some work to release the pain. That is a separate issue. It is not the job of a new partner to constantly help us process an old relationship. In fact, repeated oversharing about a past relationship can be an unconscious attempt to keep the new partner at bay. And a partner taking on the role of a therapist can be their version of intimacy avoidance.
Some initial personal therapy, and down the road - couples therapy, can be helpful in setting up new patterns. Old issues always follow us into new relationships. They are a part of us, so how can they not? Sometimes it takes time for them to reveal themselves, but reveal they will. We have to pay attention to what these patterns are. For many of us, they are not visible and we can use help to unearth them. By doing that, we can make sure that we do not repeat them.
The "you not believing in yourself" is, in fact, connected to everything else. This is not a matter of willpower or of forcing yourself. It is about digging deeper and discovering what is at the bottom of this issue. Yes, the old relationship might have damaged you to the core. The more important issue is the nature of the original wounding. What brought you to the door of that relationship? What allowed you to stay in it long enough to be so damaged? You do not want to “find your old strength” - that did not do you any good in terms of protecting you from a destructive situation. You want to discover what is blocking your true strength from carrying you through to your heart’s desire. Dig deep, with the assistance of your helper of choice, to bring your life to the next level.