Devastated as she was, I tried to listen without offering any advice; at that point, she needed to confide in someone who could just listen. As she told me about the pain that she was going through from a recent break up, I realized that by listening to her experience, I was being healed from my own brokenness.
Several months earlier, I had shut the door on a past relationship.
I thought I was completely fine, but as I listened to my friend, I realized that I was still very wounded. There were so many emotions that I had gone through: sadness, frustration, guilt, abandonment, and now anger. Listening to her recent break up experience helped me to deal with my own anger. While I hated watching her suffer, in some ways it was a healing experience for me because it allowed me to go outside of myself and just be present to a friend, It helped me to realize that others go through very similar experiences. When we experience the fragility of our humanity, we realize we are not alone.
At the end of our conversation that evening, I did offer her a few pieces of advice that had been generously given to me by other friends months before:
- Allow yourself to feel the sorrow. In order to heal, you cannot push your emotions aside hoping that they will “just go away” or fade with time. Time does help a lot, but unless you allow yourself to face what you’re going through and ask yourself the really painful questions, the wound will not heal.
- Be completely honest with yourself. I think I felt a lot of guilt in how I handled my relationship; when it ended, I wanted to pretend that it was really good, and pretend even more so that I wasn’t hurt. However, looking back on it, I know that there were times when certain things didn’t feel quite right, and I was pushed in ways that I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable with.
- Definitively decide that you’re ready to move on. I truly believe that one of our greatest human freedoms is that we can choose how we respond to situations. Although I cannot answer all of my own questions, I can make the choice that my emotions will not control me. I may be hurt, upset, or angry about the way someone treats me, but those experiences cannot control me. Unless you decide that you actually want to close the door (even if that’s not forever), you will not move on.
Listening to my friend and truly being present to her was something I needed for myself. It helped me to acknowledge that I still have a lot of healing to do. However, that also means that I have to be willing to go to the depths of my suffering and face the giant that lies before me. Fortunately, I have the blessing of friends, family, and most importantly, my faith to help me in my suffering. Love always involves risks and often hurts, but that is the most beautiful kind of love.