Knowing that it’s time to walk away from a relationship that isn’t working is a tough call to make, and realizing you may not have the strength to move on can come with a lot of guilt and disappointment.
Sometimes the relationship we’re in may not be abusive or toxic, but it still isn’t the right fit and doesn’t serve us well, and we begin to recognize that. Going back and forth about what to do can be agonizing. When you do find the courage to call it, there is a healthy habit and beneficial practice you may be overlooking.
Dr. Joy Harden-Bradford, of popular podcast Therapy For Black Girls, suggests that when a relationship has run its course, one of the first steps to healthy healing is to apologize to ourselves for the pain we’ve caused our hearts.
“If we’re talking about just bad relationships, not any abuse, but there may have been some unfaithfulness or infidelity or he doesn’t spend enough time with you, and those kinds of things, sometimes once those relationships end, there is a lot of guilt,” she begins. “[We’ll say,] ‘I should have known better or I should have listened to my friends when they told me.’ There is some forgiveness of yourself that does have to happen.”
The Atlanta based psychologist suggests you begin the journey with introspection. Know that who you were at the start of the relationship and who you are at the end of the relationship are two different people. Through growth and understanding, you have different expectations and desires for love and through the good and bad experiences, your heart only becomes more triumphant.
“I always talk with clients about [how] you made the best decision you could at the time given the information you had. And so, hindsight is 20/20, and so, if we go back, we could have maybe seen some of those red flags, but sometimes when you’re in it, you can’t see those things.”
Harden-Bradford continues, “I do think it is important to allow yourself to be sad and maybe a little angry at yourself for not having seen it sooner, but you do eventually have to forgive yourself so that you can move on and be ready to have new relationships in your life.”
Living in the guilt doesn’t propel you forward, she insists.
“It doesn’t do you any good to stay stuck in the place of blaming yourself,” says Harden-Bradford. “You can take ownership of your responsibility for what happened in the relationship, but sometimes not wanting to forgive yourself means that you’re taking on too much of it and you’re taking on the ownership of things in the relationship that really wasn’t yours to take.”
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