I am in the midst of losing the one girl I have ever truly loved because I don’t know how to let go of my past. I was abused for 3 years and now I have a girl who treats me amazing but I constantly pick fights and it’s making her unhappy so she is about to give up. How do I let the past go and be happy so I can fix this?
Katie in Kentucky
First of all, it’s great that you realize what’s going on. But it does sound really important that you find a way to change your pattern quickly, for the sake of your current relationship!
Have you spoken to your girlfriend as honestly as you wrote to us? It might help her to hear that you realize you pick fights, that you know it’s about the past and not about her, and that you really want to change that pattern. That would be a good place to start.
Next, I would suggest that you make a firm commitment inside yourself: “I want to heal from the past. I want to stop picking fights. I want to love my girlfriend in a healthy way, and create more happiness between us.” Focus on that as your intention and ask God, angels, your higher power, or anything else you believe in (that is larger than you) to help! (And if you don’t believe in anything “larger,” just ask the largest part of you – your wisest, most loving self – for help.)
Then, start trying hard to pay attention to what happens inside of you right before, or right as, you start picking a fight. This takes some practice and determination, but if you can catch yourself in the act, or just before, then you can make a different choice. Leave the room, go to the bathroom and take some deep breaths. (And it’s great if you can also tell your girlfriend what’s going on: “I just noticed I was about to start picking a fight, and I don’t want to do that any more, so please just give me a minute.”) Or, you might even find yourself able, in those moments, to say “I’m so glad I noticed before I messed things up again. Could you give me a hug?” With practice and close attention to your own inner processes, you’ll learn more about what you need in those moments – maybe it’s a walk around the block or a few minutes (or even hours) alone, or maybe it’s to open up and be held, or cry, or hit a pillow. The more you’re able to learn about yourself, and the more you’re able to share with your girlfriend, the better things will go.
You may have some repair work to do with her, from all the fights you’ve picked in the past. But the good thing is, it sounds like you’re willing to take responsibility for what you’ve done, apologize to her, and explain what has really been underneath the fight-picking — so that should help a lot.
Then, you may also need to find other ways to let out the fear, sadness, anger and other emotions that come from having been abused in the past – without taking those feelings out on your girlfriend (or using her as your sole support system). It would probably be best to look for a support group or a counselor to help you heal, though if you have some wise, compassionate friends, they might be able to help, too. Writing in a journal may give you an outlet, as well. And if you like to read, there are also many books about how to heal from abuse.
In short, there are lots of different paths that can help you heal. The most important thing is to set your intention, and then keep open to the right path or paths for you.
Keep us posted – we’re rooting for you!