A woman named Mary seeks a relationship. Her friends tell her to take it easy and to let it happen. She agrees with her friends but deep down, she believes that if you don’t put yourself out there nothing will happen.
She meets a guy named Mike. Mary and Mike hit it off and start dating exclusively. On their first year anniversary he throws a party and gives her a promise ring to commemorate his commitment to her. Mary is totally infatuated with this man.
Later in the night when Mary and Mike are conversing with their friends, Mary goes to find Mike. She finds him in the parking lot talking to another woman and stealing a kiss.
Mary’s stomach does somersaults. She throws up and saunters out of the party unseen to go home and cry. This isn’t the first time she has been cheated on.
She asks herself, “Where did everything go wrong? Why can’t I ever get a relationship that works?”
Some might say that she should’ve listened to her friends instead of seeking out the relationship. Others might say that she should’ve been suspicious that a guy would throw a party for a one year anniversary; it’s pretty sketchy and it comes off as if he’s trying too hard.
I don’t think any of that matters. People put themselves out there every day and find someone that makes sense. And while it may be cringy to throw a one-year anniversary to some, to others they just want to do it and it doesn’t mean that they’re cheaters.
We may not have ever gone through what Mary went through but we all can relate to trying to get something and consistently failing at it. This isn’t like trying to be better at a skill like basketball or changing a car tire.
There is a fundamental issue in terms of what Mary keeps attracting or entertaining in her life.
It isn’t that Mary doesn’t know how to be in a relationship or how to love. The issue is what she loves and why she cannot see how one man after another brings the same issue.
One could have similar issues in terms of business. For example, regardless of the amount of businesses that you have started, you reach the cusp of landing a big contract and for some reason or another, the deal falls through.
Or you are stuck at a certain income level and despite various attempts to break through that glass ceiling, it just never happens. Or worse, you do break through, but some crazy expense comes up and eats up your profit. It’s as if the glass ceiling shattered into your eyes and you have cuts all over your face.
I’ve even seen this in art. The artist is commercially successful but they hate their work. They want to improve but it’s been years since they’ve had an original thought, let alone a piece that they truly love.
They wonder how can they work so hard to be bold and still end up playing it safe?
It’s because people don’t really understand the reason they do what they do. There are certain things that people will try to do and it simply blows up in their face. The main ingredient here is trauma.
Growing up, Mary never had the family life she needed in order to learn what a functional relationship looks like. Her father would be living with her and her mother but then disappear for months until eventually he was gone for good when she was ten.
She was never explicitly told what happened. She heard arguments but didn’t know what they meant but intuitively, she picked up that her father was unfaithful.
Nevertheless, she saw a failed relationship and felt the pain of it. That pain never left her because it was never addressed.
When the time came for her to start her own romantic journey, she was fully aware that she did not want to end up like her parents. And yet, she did. The only difference is that she didn’t marry. But with a growing frustration with failed relationships, she could very well marry the next person that pops up. You’ve probably seen an example of this with a friend or family member. Maybe even yourself.
What about those with failed businesses and money troubles? Well, I can speak from experience here. If you felt pain from not having enough to do the things you wanted to do and you learnt that it was because of a lack of money, you too will try to avoid being anything but rich.
But it doesn’t matter what you do. You will end up feeling the same financial insecurity that you did when you were a child because those old emotions are still within you.
At the end of the day, people try to run away from trauma. They try to prevent their past from happening because they don’t want to feel that pain.
The truth is, people cannot do anything but run towards their trauma because as long as the trauma is still within them, unchecked and unhealed, it will be business as usual. We think trauma will help us to avoid future pain, but in reality, it compels us to recreate the past.
Why do you think that Mike from this story is the way he is? Do you think that this is the first time or the last time he will be caught in infidelity? He observed pain in his own life too, which is why he perpetuates it within himself and then onto the women he dates.
He cannot help it. But he needs help because he will continue to leave a trail of tears behind him. Can you imagine an army of men like this? Do you even have to?
Consider why you do the things you do. Are you trying to escape the pain of the past?
Consider the ease with which you get certain things and compare it with how difficult other aspects of your life are. Do you see things working out easily or do you use a lot of effort to get what you want?
Consider the life of your friends and family. Do you see how no matter what they do or how different the context is, the same patterns tend to replicate themselves whether good patterns or bad ones?
And if you need help in releasing the pain of the past, do not hesitate to get it. It can be the difference between a brand new success or the same old failure.