Over it

I asked my brother if he’d noticed any patterns in his string of short relationships; was there anything that he noticed happening again and again that caused tension or ended these relationships?

He said that he noticed that it’s hard for him to let anyone in, and when he does let someone in it doesn’t take much for him to push them back out. He was hurt – burned badly – when his marriage ended and now it’s hard for him to trust and easy to find reasons to mistrust.

I’m kind of amazed at how people cling to the coping mechanisms – the patterns – that keep them from making meaningful connections in relationships. We stick stubbornly to the patterns that work against us when they reinforce a narrative we want to be true or protect us from pain that reaches out from the past.

“I know myself, I know how I am, and I know what’s going to happen. We need to end things before we hate each other.”

Being aware of a pattern and breaking a connection before the pattern has a chance to play out is not a strategy for change. It’s just an abortion. It’s not growth, it is avoidance.

I think the beginning of change is acknowledging that you’re over your habit of getting in your own way. Letting go of the guilt of failing and having enough compassion for yourself to say these things I do are not me, they are just patterns I’ve learned that I can unlearn. Guilt has the counterintuitive effect of reinforcing negative patterns. It’s not a learning tool.

So, go on and get over it. Get on with doing it a different way.