Have you ever seen that magazine ad the Marines use? It has this guy trying to complete a pull-up while his face is contorted into this really gruesome look and sweat pours from every inch of his body. Beneath the sweating Marine, in supremely bold letters, is the tagline, “PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY”. You know the ad I’m talking about, right? It always catches my attention for a number of reasons. One, that guy looks like he’s about to have a heart attack, and considering I can’t do fifteen consecutive pushups without collapsing into a bawling mess of emotions, that makes me respect the heck out of him. Two, the boldly printed saying makes me think. I begin to wonder if it’s true. Is the presence of pain really weakness leaving my body? If not, can I sue the Marines so that they’ll give me one of those sweet rifles they twirl around? Somehow, I doubt it.
Let’s be honest here: there are many different types of pain. Yes, the type of pain that particular Marine is going through is pushing him and making him stronger so that he is better fit to defend our country (God bless them for it). But what of emotional or mental pain? How many of us feel ourselves getting stronger when our world has been wrecked and we don’t know what to do? My guess is very few.
Relationships have a way of overtaking our world. Whether good or bad, a relationship—romantic or otherwise—has the means of leaving its mark on us once it has ended. We do our best to accept the good while dispelling the bad, but often times the bad of our relationship so heavily outweighs the good, that we’re left with bruised emotions and damaged psyches. Do what we might, the lingering scars of a failed relationship and the abuse (mental, emotional, and God forbid, physical) finds its way into our everyday actions and thoughts. It’s not that we’re less of a person since the relationship has ended, but that’s how we can feel. Regardless of the type of underhanded abuse we’ve suffered, we find ourselves struggling to regain the sense of normalcy we had before our world was turned upside down; we try repossess that sure footing we had before we fell for the wrong person.
That isn’t always an easy thing to do.
As I usually do when addressing a matter of such importance, I’m speaking from my own ongoing experience. Because of how my marriage ended, I live with the fear of making that same mistake again. Am I capable of hurting another person emotionally the way I did my former wife? What if I marry someone only to discover that I don’t love them the way I thought I did? What if I rip apart another woman’s world the way I’ve done before? I’d be lying if I didn’t say these thoughts terrify me. And yet, I know they’re unhealthy. I’m older and wiser since my divorce over four years ago; I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made and I’ve grown from them. But still…they remain.
A past relationship can either help or harm us. We can learn from them and apply the lessons in the future, or we can allow what’s happened in our past dictate the type of person we are now and in the future. I won’t pretend that it’s easy to simply saunter beyond the failed expectations and broken promises of a failed relationship; especially when a former partner was abusive through the duration of the relationship. But as we do in everything, we have a choice to either become the victim to our past hurts, or we can choose to be better and stronger than we were and conquer them.
I’m guilty of letting my past frighten me into false starts and frightened dreams, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I’m a better and wiser person than I was back then. I shouldn’t be allowing what happened then keep me from something possibly wonderful now—and neither should you.
We’re better than our past would have us believe. We’re worth more than the pain that berates us. We deserve to live and love with a stirred belief of self within our hearts.
Victim or Conqueror: it’s our choice to make.
We just have to choose the right one.
Follow me on Twitter here. If you’re needing someone to talk to, feel free to email me at Cory@MadtoLove.com. Thank you for reading. It really does mean the world to me.