What They Don’t Tell You…

“They” don’t tell you how to manage your feelings, how to heal from past trauma. They don’t tell you a lot of things. For our future selves we have to do the work… We have to be and do better.

Do you mind, if I rant and mumble here for a while? I have lots on my mind…

I'm annoyed to be sitting here and typing. I'm annoyed because I didn't think I'd still be here. Yet here I write. I'm writing because my thoughts are unsettled—specifically my love-life/relationship situation is unsettled. My overall mental health is unsettled, y'all.

You see, I thought at some point, you pick up all the common sense tips of dating and relationships over time. Respond, don't react! Listen to your partner. Don't go to bed angry. Stop using selfies when you're wearing shades on your dating profiles! Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't be a bad human! Eventually, you fuck up enough times, you read some shit, get some tips from friends and you figure your shit out over time and everyone is happy when you finally find someone to settle in and nest with.

What they don't tell you, is that relationships, particularly the one with yourself, are a life-long thing that you have to nurture, water it like a plant, help it grow. There's no fixed end to personal growth and harvesting your best self.

What they don't tell you is that your relationships are informed by what happened to you as a youngster. And if bad shit happened, and you don't work on resolving it, understanding it, it's going to fuck with you later in life (and fuck with your partners, too!).

What they don't tell you is that relationships, besides being a lot of work, require you to work a lot on yourself. This work requires research, it requires patience, it requires vulnerability, it requires ownership, and it requires you to test yourself and to accept that you are not okay.

What they don't tell you is that your unresolved emotional clutter is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. The longer you do nothing about cutting those wires and defusing the bomb (that is a lifetime's worth of trauma-based ick), it will continue to blow up on you and those you love.

Do you know what else they don't tell you? They don't tell you that, eventually, you'll have a choice to make: Should I do this thing that I know is going to hurt this person, whom I love? And when you make the wrong choice you're going to live with that decision (and so will they), eyes-wide-open. Should I finally put an end to these destructive patterns of behavior? you ask yourself. Doing the thing that isn't comfortable is difficult, walking an unfamiliar path in taking control of your mental health is humbling, disquieting, and plain difficult, especially when you have so few answers to the crippling doubt you face.

Time does not heal wounds. It just freezes them. You have to actively fix the wound to heal it.

— Somebody very smart

What they don't tell you is that even though you've done the work, you're still going to fuck it up. You're still going to have to clean up the mess, you're still going to have to put yourself together and you're still going to have to decide to grow, and you're still going to have to decide to love again. They don't tell you there's always more work to do. They don't tell you that you still have to try. When you mess up, change your behavior, apologize, don't do the thing again.

And just who are they anyway? The world around you, your friends, mentors, families. They. It's not their fault when you stumble and mess up. Just because they don't tell you all that you need to know to exist in the world without being problematic doesn't mean it's not your fault when you do stumble and hurt someone else.

What I've figured out, though, is that the way I have reacted to things in the past, how I cope with things, isn't entirely my fault—these things are a product of my environment. What is my fault is what happens after I plot a course of action that hurts someone, regardless if it comes from a place that is informed by past traumas and experiences. I have to own the consequences, I have to answer for them!

You see, it's one thing to know that you have work to do and where your demons originate. It's another thing to do the work to help resolve them and stop poor behavior and patterns from repeating themselves. That work is hard. It's not linear, you're always going to be tested. If you never start the work, if you never try to understand yourself, you're going to be wandering around, wondering why things are so fucked up and then you hurt yourself and someone else you care about.

You have to do the work, no one can fix you, and, yes, no one is to blame except yourself after you understand why you operate the way that you do.

Yes, I'm at a low point. I want to give up. But I know that if I put the work in, I can do better, I can be better. I need to be better, my future self is absolutely depending on it!

Author profile

Alex is the founder and managing editor at the Urban Dater. Alex also runs: DigiSavvy, for which he is the co-founder and Principal. Alex has a lot on his mind. Will he ever get it right? If he does, he'll be sure to write.

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