Lessons Learned From Past Relationships
I recently read a news article about research being done on a pill that may be able to erase painful memories. Think “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” the movie with Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, where they both opt to have a procedure done on their brain that will erase the painful memories of their relationship.
Yet the pill being researched is not fiction. It is meant to help people who have painful memories from trauma and are unable to put them to rest, causing depression or difficulty with daily life. Researchers have found that it is not the actual trauma causing people the pain, but that the trauma cannot be forgotten, and is continually accessed in their minds.
A memory is formed, and we assume that it will stay the same. This is why we trust our recollections. They feel like indelible portraits of the past. However, memories are not formed and then pristinely maintained. They are formed, then rebuilt every time they’re accessed. Yet the strength of the emotion tied to the memory convinces us the memory is intact.
Thus, it's the initial memory that needs to be 'erased.' With this pill, researchers have been able to block the proteins that create the memory from the initial trauma. Fortunately, I have never been through a serious trauma, but call me dramatic, there are times when I have gone through a breakup and wished for a lobotomy for Christmas.
Come on, I know I am not alone. Songs and smells trigger memories...happy ones, yet also the painful ones. When every day feels like Groundhog Day in your head and you wake up every morning wishing to go back to sleep to escape the weight of your heartache. But grief fogs our logic.
If our memories make us who we are, what does it mean to erase part of them? Are we deleting a part of ourselves? How do you remove a memory without removing part of who you are or who you may become?
As cliché as it sounds, pain, heartache and change do create growth. We learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. Who wants a pill that would prevent that? Remember the movie “Runaway Bride”? If you haven't seen it twelve times (like I have), there is a scene where Julia Robert's character is asked what kind of eggs she likes.
She doesn't know how to answer because she has always 'liked' whatever eggs her significant other liked. My point is, take your breakup, your pain, to learn about yourself. See what kind of eggs you like. Get to know yourself, and become who you are supposed to be.
We are like onions...with each breakup, you scrape off a layer to become a better version of yourself, which inevitably will attract the best version of someone else. Take a little of what you've learned from each relationship or friendship and keep improving yourself to become your own personal best. Take the good stuff forward and discard the bad.
One particular relationship of mine had a lot of bad. However, I learned during that time I had an untapped passion for politics. I learned to form my own opinions and not be afraid to voice them even if they weren't popular.
Another relationship showed me I am capable of running longer distances than I ever thought I could and I enjoy the adrenaline rush I feel from structured races. I also learned that I enjoy putting thought into gift giving and am disappointed if my partner doesn't do the same.
Again, take the positive with you. You can't leave your past with everything! I have my exes to thank for many helpful life tools. For instance, I learned about flushable wet wipes. And trust me, once you use them, you will never go back to regular toilet paper. Put it this way, if you spill chocolate on your arm, are you going to wipe it off with a dry napkin or a wet one? Think about it...enough said.
I also learned how to peel a banana. Always peel it from the bottom (just like the monkeys do). Your peel will never break and your banana will never be smushed while you wrestle with the top of the peel. I also learned how to remove the core from a head of lettuce...you know, where you take a head of iceberg lettuce and you smack the core against the countertop and the core pops right out? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, try it sometime. You will be amazed.
Clearly, it doesn't take much to amaze me. However, the 8 life lessons I have learned from my past relationships...friends and lovers alike, are invaluable, and I humbly share them with you.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Nobody is perfect. So stop looking for the perfect mate. Someone should be perfect for you. It's a feeling, not something you can put on paper. So if your friend says, "go out with him, he's perfect." Say, “perfect for whom?” And if you feel as if your life has suddenly become a romance novel or fairytale and your man rode in on a white horse, remember to trust your instincts.
Real life has flaws. You are just unable to see them while he is sweeping you off your feet. Men are like drugs...sometimes they bring you down and sometimes they get you so high that your ability to see things as they are gets clouded.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them...the first time.
When you see a red flag, be thankful. We make things so much more complicated than they need to be. When a guy tells you he isn't ready for a relationship, believe him. When a girl tells you she never wants kids, believe her. He says he doesn't ever want to get married. Believe him! You have that voice inside your head for a reason. There are plenty of guys out there who are willing to commit. They are called MEN.
Age does not make a man. I know plenty of grown-ass boys. Typically people don't change, so don't try and change them. If someone cheated with you, that someone will probably cheat on you. It's as simple as that. When they don't come home till 7 in the morning and tell you their phone died...RED FLAG.
They are going through a divorce...RED FLAG. Tell him to find you when it's over. (Unless you want to learn all about New York matrimonial law...call me, I won't charge you the exorbitant legal consultation fees.) How many red flags do you need? Ok. Ok. Do as I say, not as I do!
When friends and family don't like him, there's a reason.
It's hard to find someone who will love you no matter what...that's what family and friends are for. Anyone that can't get along with your family or friends is not worth knowing. If your family or friends don't approve of how he treats you, he is not worth knowing. They see something you are unable to see or unwilling to admit. They know you best and will always love you the most.
You should only be with someone who tells you they are ridiculously crazy about you.
Never settle for less. Someone that loves you will not be afraid to tell you. He won't be able to keep it inside. Someone that loves you will be interested in your hobbies and what's important to you without you having to ask. He will think you are beautiful without makeup. He will send you flowers...just because. I don't care what a girl says, getting flowers always makes you feel good.
Value someone who wears the ugly shirt because you gave it to him or takes the time to frame the picture you got him because it came from you. He will put as much thought as you do into the gifts he gives and will write you a card with that gift. What he says in the card means more than the gift. Remember when Carrie Bradshaw said, “I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love." Never ever settle for less.
No one is out of your league.
Be you. Even Brad Pitt dated Juliette Lewis. Be you. Be unique. Separate yourself from the pack. If you have friends that drag you down or keep you from being the best version of yourself, let them go. We are not in college anymore. You don't need to travel in a pack of 12.
You are the company you keep. If your friends are into drugs, most likely, people will think you are too. If your friends sleep around, most likely, you will have the same reputation. Stand alone. Pave your own way. Make your own choices. Never look back and regret a decision someone else persuaded you to make. And if someone loves you for you, well, that's amazing.
No one is immune to rejection.
Sometimes people are just gone. It's not for you to understand, but for you to accept. I'm a finance girl and I'm recommending always hedging your bets! Never give up your independence for someone else. Certainly, never give up your home until you are married.
I learned I had a special talent through this particular lesson...I have a knack for interior design. But would never do it as a career because I don't like leaving my masterpiece for someone else to live in.
Ladies, once they are gone, don't look back. There is no reason for friendship with an ex. Don't leave the door open...even a crack! Men will always keep one foot in so they can come back through that door... on Wednesdays...well, sometimes Tuesdays. Don't be a Tuesday girl! This time it will be different. It won't be different! It never is. It will make the hurt worse than it already is. TRUST ME. When you close the door, lock it!
Never let someone live rent-free in your brain.
My stepmom told me this when I was going through my first breakup. I have since shared with many friends who have applied it. Rent is damn expensive here in NYC and if I charged my exes for all the times I allowed them to enter my thoughts, I would be financially set for life. Break up with your past...don't lose it...just free up space for someone new.
Nobody wants to share you with all those bozos. It's not giving up...it's breaking free! There is no better feeling in the world than when you no longer carry the weight of the past on your shoulders. Who cares that he was your first love...or your second? It's your next love who will teach you that love still exists when you never thought it could.
And the last, most important lesson I learned from my past relationships is what it feels like to be madly in love, butterflies and all, and be loved in return.
If you can feel that way once, you can feel that way again. You aren’t dead inside. You haven’t given up. You aren't too old or too damaged. You aren't cynical. You are hopeful. And hope makes a woman beautiful.
"There are people out there who have given up. There are people who live with someone they don’t love anymore.There are people who are stuck with someone they don’t know how to leave. There are people who know exactly what tomorrow is going to look like. You don’t. Thank God for THAT"- Erin Foster
I choose to keep my memories and leave the pill to research. I will continue to do my own.
Rachel Jablow | Elite.