When the past becomes our present.

Old emotional wounds have many ways of inserting themselves into existing and new relationships. When this occurs, they can prevent a connection from blossoming or slowly pull at a relationship until one or both parties suffocate. Some of our deepest wounds often come from childhood, and others will make an appearance at a later point in life.

Dealing with heartbreak, betrayal, having our ideas about love questioned and our spirits bruised are distressing experiences to go through. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually — these past traumas have the power to greatly impact our overall character; it can affect the way we think, the way we see ourselves, and the way we see others. When emotional pain cuts us deep, it can cause repeat unhealthy behaviours and offer a recipe for toxic relationships. Sometimes without even realising, few of us will continue living our lives holding onto negative, distorted thoughts in our unconscious mind. But one thing is for sure… none of this has to be permanent.

Cute but psycho

I’d be lying if I said freeing yourself from the past was an easy process. It really isn’t. Speaking from personal experience, I spent years convinced that I was healed from my first relationship. Unfortunately, feelings of resentment and bad memories can linger long after a previous split. The reality was that I had simply swept everything under the carpet and put in place a few coping mechanisms which involved: always having my guard up, purposely starting conflicts to make myself feel better and feel more in control, never communicating or addressing the root problem, and playing the blame game. After going through a couple superficial relationships in my emotionally unavailable state, it became clear that my issues were just adding this growing ball of toxic energy. The longer I left it to manifest, the worse I became.

I was cheated on in my first relationship but didn’t find out until a year later… and it was only by chance I had discovered the secret. Around the same time, the manipulative and controlling behaviour became more apparent (dictating what I could/couldn’t wear, where I could go, who I could talk to/hang out with, etc.), our heated arguments were pretty intense, we hurled things at each other then got into physical altercations. The atmosphere was always tense and disruptive, and not just between us but for others as well. When things were good, they were amazing; when things were bad, it was hideous. Being 16 at the time, in my first relationship; I was naive and “blinded by love”. I can’t even comprehend what was going through my mind back then. All I knew was that no matter what shit we had gone through, he was never wrong in my eyes. Eventually three and a half years later, I found the courage to leave. And by no means was it an easy exit.

I swiftly got into my next relationship about 5 months after but I was just a ticking time-bomb for my next partner… and the next one after that. When I look back, I feel awful for the way I treated some of my exes. Even thinking about it now makes me cringe and feel a lot of shame. I found myself creating worst-case scenarios in my head, getting easily triggered over certain things they’d say or do. I was always feeling hypersensitive, insecure and on-edge when they wanted to have a guys night out or attend a work do. I dealt with it all by self-sabotaging. I would go down their phones to check their call logs, messages, photos, social media. I looked through their draws, cupboards — I don’t exactly know what I was looking for but I needed anything to use as ammo so I could pull them up on it and accuse them of cheating on me. I honestly think I put more effort in my search for “evidence” than I did with the actual relationship. Messed up huh?

Road to recovery

When we’re stuck in trauma, our limbic system (basically an important part of the brain) can become impaired in its ability to regulate our emotions. As a result, our mood, sleep and thought patterns can be impacted and lead to symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, loss of appetite, low sex drive and even depression. It’s essential to understand how past issues are affecting your love life so that you can address them.

No one likes feeling vulnerable, disappointed or hurt, but how we deal with past issues determines the quality of our lives, our next relationship and ultimately helps to shape ourselves. As mentioned, it’s not a straightforward or quick practice, nonetheless I guarantee that taking an opportunity for self-reflection and learning can be the gateway to experiencing real joy and happiness. If you’re seeking some guidance on how to release those burdens, I’ve compiled some mindful tips to help loosen that grip on previous situations and move forward in a much healthier way.

IT IS WHAT IT IS
For some of us, “letting it be” or “letting it go” alludes to the idea that we’re wrong or it feels like we’re allowing someone else to be right. It also means letting go of your expectations of how things should have been. The fact is, what happened was all in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it. The drama, holding on… it’s all in your own mind. As you continue feeding the memories, you make what someone said or did even bigger and more powerful in your head than it might have been in reality. Accepting what happened gives you the ability to create empowering stories and discover valuable lessons to carry with you in the future.

DO NOT PUT EVERYONE IN THE SAME CATEGORY
Your new partner should not be punished for the pain you felt from previous relationship, just because someone did you wrong in the past, it doesn’t mean that your new partner will do the same. It’s an unfair position to put them in. It’s important to communicate, be open and honest, and explain why you might have certain hangups or sore spots. And if it’s a situation where you’re clinging onto hurt and anger but struggling or refusing to let it go, then perhaps you’re not in the right frame of mind for a new relationship.

TAKE YOUR TIME TO HEAL
There’s no timeline for healing from trauma, it can take months or even years. However, it’s vital to release the sadness and let yourself process all the emotions. Use the opportunity to self-discover and work on getting your mind back in a better place.

LET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM
Some will feel better after verbal communication with a friend, family member or therapist, others might prefer writing down their thoughts in a journal. Either way, the cathartic release can do wonders for your mental health. You’ll find that self-expression helps to clarify your thoughts, feelings, reduce stress and even solve problems more effectively.

DO THINGS THAT YOU ENJOY
On your road to recovery, I reccomend channeling your energy into things you enjoy. Perhaps you let go of a hobby you used to love? Maybe you want to take up something new? Just go for it. Even if it’s a bit of therapeutic shopping, brunching with friends, binging on awful reality TV shows or treating yourself to a pamper session — stick to positive environments, surround yourself with good people and focus on finding happiness and inner peace.

I always encourage learning and growing from all our experiences in life. When we’re dealing with past trauma, concentrate on becoming stronger in the process, rather than carrying the baggage around like an anchor. Don’t let it weigh you down from living and enjoying your life. The past should be used as a reference to serve and support you for the present and future. Always keep in mind:

“Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.”

Getting undressed with Riley and Damsel.

Over the last 3 months, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a number of friendly, genuine and supportive people. The dating community on Instagram has got to be one of my best social media discoveries and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. There are so many talented writers, poets, artists, speakers and entrepreneurs — all of us on the same path to pursue our passions and leverage our skills. More recently, I’ve been chatting away with fellow writer and author of Riley’s Raunchy Reads, you must check out her content. Riley will sweep you away into an erotic world of explicit, sexual interaction and steamy hot romances. I can only describe her creative pieces as jaw-droppingly insane!

With a mutual appreciation for each other’s work, we decided to team up on a blog post with a slightly different angle. Today we’ll be “undressing” ourselves and stepping into the spotlight. If you’re looking for some quick tips, guidance and insights on the realms of dating and writing, you’ve landed in the right place! Read on for our mini Q&A…


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING TO START UP THEIR OWN BLOG?

Damsel
The first thing I’d say is to find your niche. It definitely helps with the build up of content. Figure out what you’re passionate about and just go for it! Try not to worry about getting it right or perfect either. Honestly, I look back at my old blog posts and think “ugh what is this shit?” — but over time; you’ll learn, you’ll improve and you’ll figure out what works best.

Also, don’t forget that you’re telling your story. Don’t be worried about other blogs covering the same topics as you. You must remember that it’s about your perspective, your creativity and the value that you add — already it’s unique in its own right. Be real, be honest and really embody the stuff that you’re writing about.

Finally, use social media platforms to your advantage. It helps to connect with readers and other bloggers, perhaps even for inspiration, but don’t get too caught up in it. Don’t get hung up on the follows, likes, etc. Focus on your writing first then social media after.

Riley
*Do not start a blog if you are half hearted about it or unsure, speak to friends and get their advice about your ideas that you are potentially going to upload to this blog then make the decision.

Before I started my blog Riley’s Raunchy Reads (www.rrrox.co.uk), I created a notes list in my phone as to why I wanted to start my blog. This included the following questions: – Why do you want to start a blog? What is the blog going to be about? What is your niche going to be? What content do you want to deliver or create? Do you want to use any other social platforms to promote your blog? What colour theme are you going to follow? It is going to be illustrations, free pictures from the internet or art you create yourself? I felt these questions helped me create the base of my blog.

I then reached out to my friends and we discussed my ideas and I even gave them a short snippet of my first story to give them an idea of what it was going to entail. They thought it was a great idea and really pushed me forward to take the final steps of creating an Instagram account and blog. The Instagram account was so I could promote my blog and engage with my audience. 

Tip *I always tend to have one draft in the pipeline because you do not want to be stuck without any content for a long period of time. Allow yourself enough time to brainstorm ideas and take notes. I currently have about 5 different notes on my phone that I jot notes down when ideas come to me, it’s good to get into that habit. 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF STARTING DATING STORIES BY ME / RILEY’S RAUNCHY READS SO FAR?

Damsel
I’ve been overwhelmed by the lovely community, the engagement and positive feedback. I’ve had people messaging me saying how my experiences and situations resonate with them, I’ve had some approach me for dating advice as well those who have been very complimentary about my writing style and tone. When I realised that my work was making an impact on others, that was my highlight moment. The support and kindness truly pushes me to keep writing and sharing.

Riley
I personally would say my highlight since starting Riley’s Raunchy Reads has been the relationships I have built with the talented and inspiring writers, sex educators and business owners that I follow on my Instagram. 

The collabs that I have done so far have been so eye opening to subjects I have not been aware of, products I wouldn’t even think of and it’s just been a great overall experience with each one of them. I look forward to any collabs I do in the future, whether that be an IGTV live, story or blog post. 

I’m excited for what is to come. 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP 3 DATING TIPS YOU’D GIVE?

Damsel
Be authentic –  Of course you want to put your best foot forward, but at the same time, you must accept and embrace all of who you are. Many daters dress, think and act in a way they believe their date would like them to, and in essence, they become someone they’re not, in hopes that this alter ego will help them find their perfect match. I guarantee you’ll have a lot more enjoyment and less pressure on dates if you trust the process by being genuine from the start.

Honesty is the best policy – Not everyone will agree with me on this but when I first meet someone, I’m always upfront and honest when it comes to what I think the other person should know about me. From personal experience, there’s actually a lot of good that can come from being honest in the dating realm. The more unapologetic and brutally honest I’ve become, the less I tolerate people manipulating me, using me, or being rude to me. Sure, I might get a “bad” reputation because of it, but at the very least, I’m no doormat!

Know your non-negotiables – Before you invest time and effort in anyone, make sure you know what your deal breakers are. Ask yourself what could you not accept, compromise on, or adjust to. Smokers? Non-monogamy? Substance abuse? Deal breakers will vary from person to person, and setting these out will not only ensure your core values are aligned with your romantic partner but also provide stability and structure to the relationship.

Riley
Always be yourself – do not change for anyone. Someone will love you for you, but first ensure you are happy within yourself before trying to find that special someone.

Be honest – there is no such thing as ‘too honest’ if people can’t handle it, they aren’t for you. 

Be respectful – The one quote I will always live by is ‘treat people how you want to be treated’ – says it’s all really. 

WERE THERE ANY SITUATIONS OR ANY PARTICULAR TRIGGERS THAT MADE YOU START TAKING YOUR WRITING SERIOUSLY?

Damsel
Lockdown made me do it! I started writing at the beginning of this year after experiencing another failed relationship and a couple of disastrous dates but it was something I’d do to pass time and showcase to my close friends. Then as I found myself stuck indoors, I felt like I needed an additional activity that would stimulate my brain, so that’s where the writing came in. The guy I’m dating at the moment also gave me a little push and encouraged me to go public, he’s been pretty helpful and supportive too.

Riley
It was when I started to enjoy sex and foreplay, I thought now I understand what it feels like, how new experiences should feel. At that point I was like I’m ready to change the way I write to incorporate this into my writing. Being able to explore my writing by using fantasises, some real-life experiences and ideas in my writing gave me the confidence to be like, YES, I’m ready let’s get this ball rolling. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF WRITING SO FAR?

Damsel
In terms of going down memory lane, it was certainly not one of my favourites… but with regards to writing, I’d say “I would rather adjust to your absence than be frustrated by your presence.” was pretty satisfying. This was the failed relationship that inspired me to start the blog! The trials and tribulations, all the bullshit, the audacity… like wow. I’m shocked at myself by how much ridiculousness I tolerated. Even now when I regurgitate the story to my friends, we can’t stop laughing. I see my blog as a bit of an outlet so it was like a breath of fresh air once I got it all out of my system. Although I look back in disbelief; overall it really helped me reflect, improve my mood and gain so much perspective.

Riley
I answered this in one of my IGTV videos and I still stand by my decision. So, at first, I was obsessed with my first story Pleasure by The Fire because it was what got my juices really flowing and my excitement back for getting back into writing. I still love that story don’t get me wrong but now my favourite would be Seduction under The Stars. It has had such good feedback and I really enjoyed including character names in that story, plus who doesn’t love a school reunion crush! 

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR TIMES OR DAYS WHEN YOUR CREATIVE JUICES ARE AT ITS PEAK? (PUN NOT INTENDED!)

Damsel
Generally, on any given day, my juices start flowing in the evenings from 8pm onwards and I’ll find myself writing up until midnight. On occasions I’ll wake up early (around 6am) on the weekend and get a sudden burst of inspiration, from there I just pull out my laptop and start typing away!

Riley
I would say it depends on my mood and what I’ve got planned. If I’m off work and I watch something romantic on TV or read something on my Instagram like a quote or short story, I’ll think ‘Yes, that is what is missing’ and then start writing like a mad woman. I mean there have been plenty of times I’ve just been sat listening to music, especially the playlist from Fifty Shades of Grey and my creativity just appears. This is where I’ll start writing notes but if I feel like it could be a story, I grab my mac and away we go. 

We hope our readers found this post useful! And if you enjoyed our content, you can keep up to date via our Instagram pages: @datingstoriesbyme / @rrr_ox