(From The Archives) How to Love people with Shattered Pasts
March 7, 2011 – I have always wanted to tackle this kind of topic but I just never had the material. Now I do, ideally because I’m realistic and like to write something that I have experienced.
So how do you date a broken, shattered up individual? Many of you would ask what for, or why even bother? But some who have been in this road would like to find out more. So here are my two cents about that very sensitive matter.
The most important basic behind love, everybody knows, is to make sacrifices on behalf of each other. So what happens when the other person’s past was ruined by a certain individual and they feel they can’t move on? Many a times these are the people who drain your energy and make you channel all your emotions and concentration towards them in hopes that it will change their attitude. Thereafter, you get a little response in return or just an ‘I’m trying gesture’ which you usually feel is not enough. Have you ever felt that you normally don’t get what you deserve after dedicating your time to such people?…
Take my example for instance. One day, my neighbor who’s a small boy brought me a homeless kitten to keep. He heard that I’m a cat lover and knew that the cat and I would be a perfect match. So he knocked and I opened the door expecting my precious package. True to his word, he opened the box to reveal a beautiful black and white kitty. But it was malnourished, shaken up and almost wild, hiding itself at the furthest corner of the box. I felt pity for the kitty, so small and already afraid of the world. Sensing my hesitation, he tried to coax the kitty out of the box and it jumped and scampered outside, slithering under a pile of wood and that was it! After whistling and seducing the kitty in vain, the little boy shrugged and left for home, obviously irritated by the unthankful gesture of the cat.
The weeks that followed were of hide and seek. I would appear and the cat would disappear under the pile of wood that it now called home- even when it rained. I knew that forcing it to come out would only make things worse. So I usually left some food out for it and hoped that it would at least trust me enough to eat. After several days of doing that, one day the kitty came out, peeping with uncertainty. It saw me looking at it but it didn’t run, it just went to its tray and carried a morsel back to the safety of the wood pile.
This continued but inch by inch, the kitty came out and I noticed something I hadn’t before. It had a half tail! Pretty disturbing for a cat that age…what had happened? The boy didn’t say much, so I deduced the cat had come from a violent owner because it didn’t seem afraid of other cats. Fast forward >> I’m looking at that kitty today all grown up, healthy, jumpy and friendly to humans. It even gave me more kittens! I can’t believe it’s the same cat! (It still has half a tail by the way…quite unique huh?)
…When you start dating this person and you start loving everything about them, instinct will usually make you do anything to protect them. Unfortunately, some of them might have painful pasts, with people who hurt them physically, mentally or emotionally. And because of this, they find it hard to trust and open up. Just like the kitty hid behind a pile of woods, they hide behind a wall, which they think will help protect them from being hurt again. In the long run, this affects how you both relate and may bring an endless strain to your relationship.
How do you conquer this?
The first thing is to ask, is whether you have the strength to endure that relationship because that is what you will need the most. It’s no use bailing out when you’re already in it, as it will not be fair to the both of you. If you can’t bear dating such an individual, it’s better to leave early.
Secondly, is whether that person is worth it? Do they have the potential of coming out of their shells and becoming better persons? Remember that your main aim of giving them your love and dedication is to encourage them to find strength and come out of their own, not for you to do that for them. You are not a doctor. If that doesn’t happen, it means they aren’t ready, and you can never force change on a person. Let them be.
Thirdly, do they appreciate the time that you are giving to them? I will not lie, these people are usually too selfish (for lack of better words) to see any person apart from themselves. It’s always about their misery, because that is what their scars have done to them. They know that they have the ability to change but because they are afraid to step out of their walls and get hurt again, most of the time they will always put their feelings before everything. Do not try and steal that from them. Instead show them that you have given them time and space to deal with their issues. This is where patience comes in. If they appreciate your gesture, they will also want to reciprocate by doing something out of the ordinary. If they don’t,… time to move on.
Lastly, remember that it’s also about you. Don’t try and fix things. Sometimes in our efforts to save these people you can easily forget about yourself and what you want. You get drenched in their insecurities and misery that you forget what it’s like to have someone care for you and love you back. If they become sad or angry, it often affects your mood too. You need to understand that It’s not your fault that what happened to them happened. What matters is that you are giving them a second chance by giving out your love and attention. If they care about you, they will want to change for you- with time though, because nothing happens overnight. But if you have applied steps one through three and nothing is working, then take it as a signal to find another person, after all life is too short to waste on one person… right?