I remember this moment perfectly.
I'm at my sister Jenna's wedding in Israel. I'm 8 months sober in a 12-step program and away from the bubble of my network for the first time since I stepped through the door of my first meeting.
Looking over the beautiful scenery of the land where my ancestors came from, I'm longing for connection. Connection to another person, connection to this land, connection to my religion.
I feel nothing.
It was at Jenna's wedding that I made the commitment to myself to stop casually dating or sleeping with people. I committed to only truly be with someone who I could see myself being with long-term. It was right after this wedding that I met my British boyfriend of 3 years with whom I had plans to be engaged. See previous articles from 2015 to catalogue the depths of my despair when I impulsively ended our relationship.
What I didn't know at the time is that I had a substantial amount of unresolved commitment and intimacy issues stemming all the way back to when I was 16-years-old. The details of my first ever breakup are blurry, but I remember feeling completely hopeless, worthless, and unlovable.
Looking back now, I can see the almost textbook-cliché pattern of relationships that I manifested in the years to come. I sought out people who were emotionally unavailable so that my negative core belief about not being good enough would be validated again and again.
It had been almost a decade since that relationship, so I had no idea that I was carrying around seemingly unbreakable walls between myself and true connection throughout all that time.
I figured, as most of us do, that time heals all wounds.
We hear this phrase time and time again, but I haven't really thought about how inaccurate it is until recently.
The reality about "time healing all wounds" is this: Unless we are truly willing to process our deeply rooted core irrational beliefs (beliefs about ourselves such as "I am not good enough" or "I am unlovable"), time doesn't do shit.
When I was in high school, two of my friends died in a car accident. 7 years later, after 4 years of sobriety, I began to actually feel the weight of that grief. It didn't hit me until my friend Drew died in March of 2015, and I found myself grieving Sal and Francis' deaths from 2008.
In 2015 after I broke up with my British boyfriend while acting on a fleeting impulse, I decided that I needed to seek out good therapy. I say good because NOT ALL THERAPY IS BENEFICIAL. I've heard countless times about friends or patients seeking therapy for years and simply venting for an hour while their therapist listens. That. is. not. therapy.
A close friend of mine, who had been seeing this therapist for over 3 years, recommend a specific woman to me in Pikesville, Maryland. I started seeing Wendy at her in-home office on a weekly basis.
It was there that I discovered an enormous amount of unresolved grief, childhood and adolescent trauma (which, of course, I had minimized), and a massive barrier that I had constructed between myself and genuine intimacy ever since that boyfriend dumped me when I was 16-years-old.
In the last 2 years of incredible therapy, I've uncovered so many more core underlying beliefs and complexes that I had no idea existed. My insight and awareness availed me nothing; I have my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I still couldn't make the connections on my own.
Over a decade after my first ever experience with rejection, I still am on the lookout for all coping behaviors like seeking attention or putting my walls up. I have to continuously unlearn old patterns of thinking and acting on a daily basis, or else I so subtly sink back into them.
If one experienced trauma at age 5, and they never dealt with it appropriately (with professional help), that trauma is still alive and well when they are 55. If I chose not to jump head first into my own emotional experiences and combat my fears open heartedly, there is no way in hell I'd be able to be in a healthy relationship today.
I always tell my therapist, if I ever do get married, she's absolutely invited.
The reality is this: Time doesn't heal anything. Time presents us with the opportunity to bury our pain as deeply as we can.
The kicker, though, is that the pain will undeniably manifest in other destructive ways in our lives... even if we think there is no correlation. So if you're sitting back just biding time to go by so you can feel "better" about a certain experience, STOP.
Maybe the point isn't to feel better. Maybe the point is to feel.
I challenge you to look inward, to lean into the discomfort, and to process your deepest and most vulnerable thoughts and feelings.
Make the most of your time. Create space to journal, to find a therapist, to confide in a close friend, or to pray. Allow yourself to speak to the part of you that hasn't been heard, hasn't been seen, hasn't been validated.
We all have parts of ourselves that have been buried so deeply that we've consciously forgotten that they are there. Subconsciously, though, they are running rampant.
I hope this article ruined your day. I hope it awakened you to a truth so deep that you've neglected to acknowledge it for years. For decades.
Because if you're feeling that discomfort, that means I've touched something in you that didn't want to be found. That means you've resonated with the words on this page and your defense mechanisms are in full swing.
Consider this your flashlight. Look inward.
And remember, be gentle with yourself.