I’ve been working with teenagers for nearly 40 years now. This means I’ve been involved in a lot of dating relationships. This doesn’t end when a teen turns 18 either. I’m honored to be in that circle of voices they come to. The following is a real conversation between me and a graduated teen. We texted this whole conversation because isn’t that what you do these days? I didn’t do that with them back in the 1980s but I do now. I have permission to share this. I recognize that your pain is real. You will identify with that in this conversation. But also recognize that pain is your beginning.
Her: This has been a very hard week. I’m going to compare this break up with quitting smoking. There were times it was easy and I would think “wow I should have done this a long time ago.” There were other times I felt like I was dying and I would give anything just to have one more cigarette or in this case just to see his face or hear his voice or have him hold me one more time…even though I know the habit was killing me I would have given anything to have it back.
Me: Interesting analogy. You are at that in between point. One side is life and one side is death. No idea how long this transition will take but it will hurt like hell all along the way..
Her: I know I deserve better and I know that I would have been miserable long term just like I knew smoking would definitely kill me…but sometimes misery and death is much easier than this.
Me: Hence why people are not brave enough to make these life changes. It takes all of you being raw to get there.
Her: I hate this. This sucks more than I thought…and I had a few really good days but now they aren’t good anymore.
Me: I hear you. This is real.
Her: I hurts.
Me: It does. Right to the soul.
Her: I miss him a lot.
Me: You miss the idea of him a lot. Gotta keep this in the truth. And missing him is a better feeling than the pain of transition.
Her: I miss the idea of him…yes…not him or his baggage or his emotional abuse…I miss the idea that I may have found my forever partner.
Me: Yes. That loss is painful. But it is less painful than the transition you are in.
Her: Yes, I guess so.
Me: A numbing fix for this life overhaul is to wish you weren’t going through it alone. You think it would be easier if I had someone to do this together. But the truth is different. More often than not you would have to add abandonment and resentment to the painful emotions because he is not an angel and would react from his pain in ways that would not support you.
Her: I deserve to be happy.
Her: I have a lot to offer someone. And I deserve to be able to love someone and be loved.
Me: That is true facts. But what about that is deserving?
Her: I don’t know.
Me: Are you entitled to this?
Her: I’m not entitled to anything. However I have been given a strong desire in my heart to have a life partner. That desire wouldn’t be there if it was not meant to happen.
Me: There is an assumption in that statement. What makes this assumption true?
Her: I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be alone forever. Maybe that’s what I deserve.
Me: There is also an assumption in that belief.
Her: There was also an assumption that someone would not walk away from me. But here I am.
Me: Right. And there is this truth. You have settled for less and compromised your soul for a long time. This behavior has made a mess of your soul. Who are you to be loved rightly? Finding that out is part of your painful journey.
Her: I have to trust that I will be loved.
Me: That is a big statement for you. Part of living that statement is searching inside you as to why you compromise your soul for bad men. It will be easier and wiser to trust when you trust that you can choose wiser.
(Life break. Texting allows for life breaks in conversations.)
Me: How are you doing?
Her: I am ok. It was a rough few days but then the past couple have been good. I’m trying to stop blaming myself for everything and I am trying to not overanalyze anything anymore.
Me: Progress. Any big brain farts from this not overanalyzing?
Her: The overanalyzing I just need to stop. Every time I think about it I’m rehashing things that are past. They aren’t being thought about by the other party, just me. What hurts the most is that someone could walk away and never look back…never call or text or email…that sucks a lot.
Me: He is such a fool.
Her: But I feel like the fool…because I’m the one that loved him. I’m the one that didn’t walk away. I’m the one that is still dealing with the broken heart.
Me: All true. But let yourself off the hook. Forgive yourself. God makes things new. You can stay in your smelly poop pit or you can start a new.
Her: I’m trying to start a new. I went on Thursday for my 6-week check up for my anxiety medication. My doctor told me she thinks my anxiety was caused by my unhealthy relationship and that in 6 weks she wants me coming off the medication. I never realized how messed up my life has become in the last two years. But she’s not the first person to comment that I seem happier even in misery than I’ve been for a long time with him.
Me: Oh my!
Her: I really wanted it to work, no matter what I gave up even if it was my happiness…I know I’m a broken person, but I know that broken people can be loved and deserved to be loved.
Me: Yes! Be loved as a broken person, not a contorted person. One is much more real and beautiful.
Her: It’s hard when the other person is more broken…I don’t want to be a fixer anymore.
Me: Good! When you find your new broken beauty you will attract the same.
Her: It feels so weak.
Me: Which part?
Her: Being broken and vulnerable. I think that’s one of the parts that I find hard, I became vulnerable with him, that’ something I don’t do.
Me: I disagree with your assessment. You compromised your soul to be with him. You went all in with a a man who had a job and was cute like you thought that was good enough for you.
Her: I wanted it to be enough. But it wasn’t. He never wanted to get married again and I didn’t want to be someone’s 5th marriage. He was never a true partner.
Me: Right. You compromised your soul despite all these glaring truths. That is not vulnerability. Not even close. At the core vulnerability is strength because you know you are worthy of something good happening to you.
Her: Well I allowed myself to love him and thought I was being loved in return.
Me: Let’s go back to the weakness you fear. What do you really fear?
Her: I don’t know. Someone knowing who I really am. Showing my flaws. Being rejected because I don’t really have it together.
Me: Good start. Keep on digging.
Her: I’m not sure. Right now I’m scared of disappointment. I’m scared of failing someone and myself.
Me: What does that mean? It sounds like you are protecting-your-heart gobblygook.
Her: I don’t want to get hurt again. But I don’t want to hurt myself by missing out on finding real love.
Me: Love has risks of course. So how about a new you who stops picking less-than-worthys so the risk is worth it?
Her: That’s what I want.
Me: True! And like I said earlier a new you will attract better risks.
Her: I know. I’m trying.
Me: Time is needed. Forgiving yourself. Maybe counseling. Redigging in to your faith again so you can learn a new about how God values you.
Her: I know. And I’m working on everything as I can.
The healing and growth continues…
(Photo credit: https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-to-make-small-talk/)