Heal Your Hurts for Better Relationships
- Les & Leslie Parrott
- 2003 6 May
I (Les) never thought I had any "hurts." I pretty much sailed through my school years and even college without many jolts. Relative to others, I’ve never had any right to complain. But during my first year of graduate school I suffered a relational bruise I didn’t expect. A friend I considered close did an about face. He was suddenly no longer interested in our friendship. What did I do? I wondered. I reviewed our relationship, our conversations, but nothing made sense. Out of the blue, it seemed, he suddenly had no time for Les Parrott in his life. To this day, I’m not sure why. It was painful, for sure, but something I knew I could survive. Or did I?
As part of my clinical training, I was in counseling. And it seemed like a pretty good place to find resolution to this perplexing problem. But as I recounted the story, I had no idea what it would lead to. It stirred all kinds of feelings. Then and there, my trusted counselor had me explore my personal history, looking only for moments of abandonment. I didn’t like this idea and wondered, What’s this have to do with my friend’s behavior? As it turned out, nothing. It had to do with me and healing any residue of pain in my past.
The exercise, at first, seemed silly. Most of the memories were just normal childhood experiences, terrifying at the time (being lost in a grocery store) but quickly forgotten. My counselor pointed out that, for whatever reason, however, I still remembered them. Over the years, in fact, I remembered quite a few. The point of this exercise in self-exploration was to help me acknowledge and accept my relational pain-no matter how big or small-instead of burying it. And that’s important. I’ve since learned that repressed feelings, especially painful ones, have a high rate of resurrection.
For some people, personal hurts run deep; for others they appear to be mere scratches. Whatever your situation, this step toward wholeness is crucial. Be aware, however, that healing your hurts is a process of painful self-exploration. Personal growth almost always is. But no matter how painful the process, it’s worth the price. It’s a bit like the Greek myth about the nymph Pandora. Hidden inside the box were all the painful parts of Pandora that she was trying to avoid, the parts she had tried to bury. It was those hidden and buried parts that were giving Pandora trouble. When she first opened the box, all the painful parts came storming out.
This is the part of the story that most of us know, but there’s more. As those parts were exposed to the light, as she explored the hidden pieces, she made her way to the bottom of the box, where she found that which had been missing in her life-hope. As she explored all of the hidden pieces, she found her key to wholeness. And the same will be true for you. When you open the Pandora’s Box within you, you may find painful parts you’d rather ignore, but as you work though them you will find hope at the bottom of the box just like Pandora did.
You may be wondering why the first step to wholeness is necessary. I certainly did. But I learned that the purpose behind this process is to protect you from repeating the pain of your past in your present relationships. That may sound strange, but the truth is we use new relationships as replacement parts for old hurts and old losses (a parent or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, for example).
Every relationship, in a sense, gives you another chance to resolve issues you didn’t get squared away in a previous one. But if you do not heal your hurts, you’ll never get them squared away. You’ll just continue to repeat relational problems and replay your pain again and again. And when this pattern develops you’ll have created a much bigger problem. You will no longer relate to people, but only to what they represent. In other words, the new person in your life will not really be the object of your feelings. It will be what he or she symbolizes - an opportunity to work through the issues you had with someone else.