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As Valentine’s Day approaches, we are inundated with images of sublime romantic love. If you are experiencing turmoil in your relationship, these images of unconditional and idyllic love can be painful.

Although we often associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love, this day may conjure up memories of other relationships in our life that challenged us and have caused us deep hurt. Some of us have been hurt or betrayed by a parent, a child, a friend. Others have been disappointed by a boss, a co-worker or by our neighbor. Sometimes, people and our relationships with them do not turnout as we hoped.

Anyone who has lived a full life has experienced hurts and struggled to heal. Life has bumps and sometimes huge hurdles. We make choices, take risks, and struggle with decisions. Then there is all the stuff beyond our control that simply happens. We can get knocked around quite a bit.

“How do I heal?”, or “How will I get over it”?  are two of the most frequent questions I am asked in my therapy practice. These are not easy questions with simple answers. The healing process is different for each person.

It is helpful in our process to recognize we may be saying “heal” but we are thinking “cure”. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen makes this important distinction in talking about her medical patients and their struggle with physical ailments, “We can’t cure everything. Life can’t be fixed, and science is limited. But the ability of people to grow beyond their limitations, to become more than who they are, is really not that limited.”

With matters of the heart, it is also true that we aren’t “cured” – not in the sense that we will proceed in life as if, “it never happened”- but we may actually be better. Not everything can be “fixed” but our ability to grow beyond our loss, as Dr. Remen reminds us, “is not all that limited.” What a powerful statement! It is probably the most important message we can embrace in our healing process.

When people implore,” When will I be back to my old self?”, I ask them to consider if that is really their goal. To go back to your “old self” would mean that all the wisdom and experience gained by this specific event, heartbreak or betrayal is lost. How unfortunate that would be; to go through all this agony for nothing!  Buried deep in our heartbreak are lessons for living life-we just need to be mindful and remember that while we would not have chosen this life challenge, we can choose how we handle it and make sure we learn all the lessons we can.

On this Valentine’s Day, whatever feelings of hurt and disappointment you may be dealing with, take some time to celebrate your own resiliency as you navigate the journey of healing. Do something kind for yourself. It can be as simple as buying yourself a special piece of chocolate, making time for a yoga class, taking a walk or a moment for prayer. Most importantly honor wherever you are in your process without judgment or criticism. Treating yourself with the loving kindness can help soothe your pain and make your road to healing a little less painful. The goal is progress not perfection.

Finally, while you won’t find this on a Hallmark Card, here’s a sentiment for Valentine’s Day we can all embrace.

“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and  becoming who you  are.”  – Rachel Naomi Remen

To learn more about the work of Dr. Remen  http://www.rachelremen.com/

To hear Dr. Remen discuss healing and curing with Krista Tippet. Click here: Listening Generously | On Being

 

© 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986.She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.

2 Comments

  1. cj on the 03. Feb, 2013 remarked #

    On Valentine’s Day the best love we can give – as on every day – it the love we give to ourselves.

  2. anon on the 03. Feb, 2013 remarked #

    Reminds me of a term I came across recently: post-traumatic growth. This is growth that would not have occurred if the trauma hadn’t happened. We don’t forget the trauma but we grow in new ways because of it.

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