I finally get it. Out of college a little over a year and I finally understand why I was forced to take history classes every year of elementary, middle, & high school.
Too many times you often hear "why are we learning about things that happened X years ago?", well I'm going to tell you right now. Ready? Here's why - “because if we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it.” - George Santayana
I recently went through some situations where because I didn’t know the history, I couldn’t understand the gravity and the effects it was having on those going through it. But that got me thinking; humans are creatures of habit, and unless we acknowledge the issue and break the continuous cycle, the same things will continue to happen.
At one point I hated seafood and said I’d never eat it. Between the slimy texture, weird smells, or idea of eating something raw, I couldn’t mentally justify eating it. I now realize I came across as close minded and wouldn’t try new things. I was dating a guy and he made salmon, probably the most basic fish to try for a first timer. He offered a bite and I was oddly surprised how good it was. I won’t say I could live off salmon forever, or that I’ve craved it since, but if it’s on a menu or someone cooks it, I’ll eat it. Recently I tried Cod, immediately wasn’t a fan. It truly was slimy when I took a bite, and the smell was definitely too fishy for me to handle. I recently tried Sushi, it felt wrong to eat something raw, it wasn’t horrible. But not something I crave a lot. I know eating fish is an insignificant example but you get the point, right?
Let’s look a bigger example, let’s say Kate is a family oriented person and values her time with her parents, cousins, etc. But she dated Matt who wasn't, it probably made Kate upset or even mad at times that the guy didn't respect her relationship with family and he probably never made an effort to be present around them (I’d be mad too since I love my family). Okay so Kate and Matt break up (shocker) and she tells herself that she wants to find someone who respects her close family values, fair right?
Enter Tony. Tony has a decent relationship with his family; goes to all the holiday parties, remembers everyone’s birthday, calls grammy and gramps once a week to catch up. But he’s not like Kate who constantly calls her parents to see how their day was, or snaps her older sister all day to stay connected. Tony and Kate start seeing each other (how they met or any of that is irrelevant right now) but they go out a few times and start dating.
Here’s the point - Kate doesn’t need to go into the background of Matt not liking family, at least not that early on. It’s okay to talk about your ex, it’s part of your past. Just save that till you’re around 2 months into seeing someone - talking about it too early makes you look like you’re still hung up on them. Regardless, Kate should express her past history and let Tony know that family is extremely important to her and that’s something her ex didn’t respect.
When something really matters, we need to speak up about it. Too often we’re scared that if we say the wrong thing - that person won’t like us anymore. If they don’t like you for being YOU, walk away right now. Otherwise you’re in for a nightmare of a ride that’ll include watching every word you say and walking on eggshells to make that person happy.
I mentioned earlier that humans are creatures of habit, we’re also creatures that thrive to have a purpose. When we like someone so much we’re willing to change our morals and goals for them. You might have a schedule and when you start seeing someone you adjust certain parts of that schedule to see them and make time for them. But it’s not like you’re making time to do drugs - making time to date and be happy isn’t a bad thing. We often forget that time alone is vital for our mental health and personal growth. Being alone helps us find balance and ground ourselves to focus on what makes us truly happy in life without relying on another person to create that happiness for us.
I completely understand things from our past are painful, we lock things away or we hide feelings because the damage it caused is something we never want to live through ever again. I had a falling out with two best friends a few years back because we were all being stubborn, we all said things we didn’t mean and then all the sudden we were strangers. It was painful, it sucked not having them in my life - even now, it still sucks. But I knew I couldn’t hold onto that pain forever. I learned to talk about it with my mom, or a close friend, I learned to not let it define me, that to overcome the situations we’ve all been put through we must let the pain out before we can heal. If that means crying in bed while watching romantic comedies for 2 days, so be it. You watch all the Nicholas Sparks movies your heart desires. You watch Kate Hudson fall for Matthew McConaughey and attempt to break up with him after 10 days. For guys - go out and get trashed with your buddies if you think it’ll help for a few hours. But get all those feelings out, keeping that pain around will only hold you back from great moments later in life.
I would like to talk about the second situation though. This one is personal and months ago I would’ve never talked about it, but again, I’ve learned from it and I won’t let it define me or keep me from being happy.
Back in December I went through a pretty bad breakup. That night I went over there and sat down and I knew I had to just spit it out; “this isn’t working anymore” and I was actually relieved that we both agreed. We realized that we both were at fault for things. I wanted more from him than he was ready to give. His feelings weren’t caught up to mine and THAT’S OKAY. Did it suck hearing that it wasn’t working? Of course it did. In that moment did I want him to fight for our relationship? You bet I did. But everything happens for a reason. We dated for a year (I know that isn’t super long) but we cared for each other deeply. But somewhere along the way, it changed.
I learned more about myself in this relationship than I had with all my ex boyfriends before him combined. Now let me just say that he was my 3rd serious relationship, I’m not one to casually date. He taught me so much about myself and taught me to look at the world differently, to disconnect from technology and be more in the moment, I’ll always be grateful for that.
After being at his house for about 3 hours, we ended our emotional trip down memory lane and I left. I remember calling my best friend on the way home and I started crying because the breakup wasn’t the hard part (well it was) but it was the goodbye and leaving that killed me. That last hug when you know you might not talk to them again. We said we’d keep in touch and thankfully we have, we’ll catch up every now and then. I appreciate hearing from him and that he’s happy or constantly improving on things he loves because that is something I’ll always love about him.
I’m honestly surprised about how much I can talk about this relationship and not feel the pain anymore. As great as our relationship was, we weren’t getting what we needed anymore towards the end. We wanted different things for ourselves. I’ve always been an East Coast lover who wanted to end up in the Carolinas (now I live in NC) but he wanted Cali West Coast and I respected that. I knew he had big dreams and I’d never stand in the way. Had he wanted us both to go West I would’ve given it an honest effort. But we knew it wasn’t going to be that way.
Out of any relationship I’ve had (to date) he was the healthiest one I’ve ever been in. I was open and honest with him, I was vulnerable and it scared the hell out of me every time. But he was understanding, he was patient with my feelings, he was honest. He knew I was a strong person and if he was honest with me, he would never hurt my feelings, and I always respected his honesty. He taught me that being open about how I’m feeling was okay. And although sometimes he couldn’t put his feelings into words very well, he tried. That’s all I could’ve asked for. He taught me to push myself into uncomfortable situations to prove to myself I can overcome them. There were so many good moments together that I’ll always be grateful for. And yes, I was hurt, but I’ll always speak highly of him.
Back to my original point. Your history is extremely important whether you know it or not. The “scars” you have because of experiences you’ve gone through - wear them with pride. It shows you tried something, you fought for it, you took a few hits, maybe got knocked down, maybe had your heart broken, maybe you lost a job, whatever the case may be. It’s part of you. And unless you share that history, you’ll never beat it. You’ll never fully get through it.
We all heal in different ways, different lengths of time, and that’s okay. You should never get over something in a day if it really affected your life or was part of your life in a big way. Don’t let what happened to you define you. Don’t carry that burden around with you. Don’t punish someone who cares about you just because someone in your past made you not trust others. Don’t be scared to try again, put that heart right on your sleeve. Trust your instincts, trust yourself. And believe me when I say, you’ll go through something painful again, you’ll get knocked down again. Some will just be easier to deal with than others.
But always trust your dog: If I started seeing someone, and the guy doesn’t like my adorable Goldendoodle (or my dog doesn’t like the guy, because obviously he’s a great judge of character). It wouldn’t work. If a guy told me; “I don’t really care for dogs”, well I have one so that automatically eliminates you from the potential dating pool. Thanks for playing.
Just remember, because if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it. - George Santayana
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