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.”

Marriage or Mirage?

I’m not opposed to the idea of marriage. I’m just not bothered about it. I’m pleased for all my friends who have tied the knot and I hope they’re enjoying every moment of it… but the concept of marriage bears no significance to me, and I’ve held the same view since I was 16.

Typically the sort of responses I get after sharing my opinion goes a little something like…

“Oh my God why not!?”
“Really??”
“Yeah you say that now…”
“So what’s the point of being in a relationship then?”
“But it’s part of building a relationship with someone… why wouldn’t you?”


These days my friends don’t bother questioning me, likewise I don’t feel the need to explain (they know what the deal is!) So I was inspired to write about this topic after finishing a booked called “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. There was a chapter titled “Thinking about Life” which addressed the link between life satisfaction and marriage over time (refer to the image below.) On the following page he states: “People who decide to get married do so either because they expect it will make them happier or because they hope that making a tie permanent will maintain the present state of bliss.” Not only did this part make me chuckle but Kahneman’s thinking really resonated with me. While his words are still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to express my non-conformist, female perspective on this particular subject.


I think it’s fair to say that everyone’s trajectory is different and thankfully we all have freedom of choice. Choice over our own narratives and choice over how we show our own versions of commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I hold many traditional values and beliefs but marriage is not one of them. For many of us, it’s the implicit next step in the script of life, a way to display your commitment to each other through a cultural and legal institution. Seriously though, besides the formal paperwork, ceremony and taking someone else’s surname (we don’t even have to do that), can anyone tell me what the difference is between long term companionship and marriage? I don’t get it. I’m not sure if I’m missing a bigger point here?

I spoke to someone about it today and he made an interesting point: “It’s about financial security for the party that earns less. Over time any gains are seen as a 50-50 split, without marriage, they would be prorated.” To which I responded, “So marriage is an investment?” He answered “Principally yes.” — Financial security… it just doesn’t make a great reason for marriage. I’m still struggling to see any benefits. After some thorough research to back up my views, please allow me to share my findings:

Can we skip straight to the honeymoon?
Industry experts estimate the average wedding cost in the UK to be anywhere between £18,000 to £32,000. I say screw the wedding party and put more money towards the luxury honeymoon holiday. I want paradise, cute outfits, tannage, champagne, all the fancy food and pampering sessions every day… until I return. Honestly, there are so many better things to spend the money on… if not a fabulous holiday then what about a loft conversion? A conservatory extension? Garden landscaping?How about investing the money? The list is endless!

It guarantees nothing
According to recent divorce statistics in 2019, 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce. Sorry but I’m afraid marriage isn’t always the finish line for a relationship; neither are kids for that matter. I’m not cynical, I’m just speaking the truth. Everyone knows relationships require a lot of continuous work. You have to sustain them to keep them healthy and worthwhile. The reality is people change, so there’s the possibility that marriages might fall apart.

Cringe
Weddings are planned and few really want to attend. I don’t even know if I’d turn up at my own wedding! 😂 The day is non-stop, all eyes are on you, pointless dresses are worn never to be seen again, awkward family photos are taken, having all of your families in one place sounds like a nightmare, spending the whole day making menial conversations with guests, having to sit through embarrassing or mushy speeches, then feeling knackered out by the end. I can’t.

Social norms
As far as commitment goes, I don’t believe getting hitched is the ultimate expression of love. The reality is that marriage won’t make you love your partner any more or any less, and vice versa. In the earlier days it was expected that one would be married by the time they were in their late 20s or certainly early 30s at the latest. Others would pass judgement if you didn’t meet the expectations. Thankfully we live in different times now, and I merely see marriage as another one of those social stigmas.

The truth is, marriage isn’t for everyone. For some it’s wonderful as well as appropriate. I have a few friends who are in happy and healthy marriages which is amazing! I couldn’t be happier for them. However, in terms of where I stand, I’m quite content examining these implicit life choices and carefully deciding whether I want to buy into any of them.

I would rather adjust to your absence than be frustrated by your presence.

Generally I’m a logical thinker but when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes it’s hard to override feelings and emotions. Even when you have the answers right in front of you. I met my last partner on OKCupid which was a pleasant surprise because that dating app is seriously trash! You find all sorts of people on there, I’d say it’s marginally better than Plenty of Fish (which is bloody horrendous!) – but to be fair, I only utilised OKCupid as fodder for my old dating blog.

Anyway, I wanted to give an account on my journey with this guy. I’ve tried my best to condense the story down but it’s difficult with the amount of drama that took place! This is a story of love, lies and deception.

To start with and for context, here’s some fluff around my dating history: I’m someone who doesn’t really have a “type” as such. For me it’s about personality and compatibility. Of course there needs to be an element of attraction towards the person (online dating is about swiping left or right based on photos after all) but looks and appearance are certainly not my priority. In my eyes, you can go from hot to fucking not in an instant if your personality sucks ass.

I started dating from when I was 16 and looking back, what I realised with most of my long-term relationships was that I always ended up being the alpha female… which is not a bad thing, it just wasn’t ideal with the guys I was dating at the time! The alpha female thing is likely due to the nature of my personality and upbringing. I have a lot of strong women with very bold personalities in my family. On the flip side, I also recognised that being young and naive once upon a time meant tolerating a lot of bullshit and excusing people’s absurd behaviours/attitudes.

Skipping a few years forward… I grew up, matured and like to think I have my head screwed on properly now. I embraced being free and single, it enabled me to enjoy my own company, spend quality time with family and friends, learn about myself, people and relationships. When I hit my mid-20s, I started to consider dating again (basically after retirement from clubbing!) I got into a relationship with a guy from work, it lasted just under a year, then broke that off as he was far too needy! I then remained single for 2 years (excluding the FWB situation… but I’ll discuss that drama in a separate post) and it was probably the most enjoyable 2 years of my life. Then I decided to get back on the dating scene once again… and a few swipes later, I met him.

*cue dramatic music*

When we matched and first spoke, we instantly clicked. After our first date, it became hours upon hours of talking, we had so much in common! He was super nice, charming, funny, very responsive, had an amazing career, close to his family, intelligent, held the same values… literally he was ticking all the boxes one by one. I won’t lie, in my head I was thinking, “wow, this might be the one!” – and anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t even believe in that crap! Let me tell you now. Ticking all the boxes??? It’s a myth and a big, fat red flag!

A few incredible dates later, we found ourselves naturally slipping into a relationship. The more time we spent together, the more boxes he continued ticking… (a myth!!!) he was chivalrous, romantic, thoughtful, generous, protective, always picked me up and dropped me home. Honestly, the list went on! I was treated like royalty and I’d never experienced any guy like this one. You know when you hear these stories about people meeting someone online and the next thing you know, they’re all settled down, married with kids? That is some serious luck right there… but the way our relationship was going, I really thought I may have been one of those lucky people. On top of that, I don’t even like the idea of marriage or kids, but with him, it felt so different. We were in tune with each other on every level, I could only describe what we had as a soulmate kind of connection. Or what felt like it at the time!

So at this point, dating apps were obviously a thing of the past, love was in the air, we were happy, the future was becoming a topic of discussion, everything was fantastic!

Until they weren’t.

Almost 4 months in, my gut instinct suddenly started to kick in out of nowhere. Something felt odd. The thing about my intuition is that I can never tell if it’s actually intuition or I’m confusing it with paranoia (occasionally happens when my brain decides to overthink/over analyse). It was around 1:00am on a Saturday, I really struggled to sleep… I was up thinking about how vague he had been with some of his responses in our conversations and how he had no presence at all on social media. Before you say anything, yes – most people would say that’s a red flag (not having any social media) but I personally know people who aren’t fond of it so I kind of get it if there’s a preference to live your life in private. However, this feeling was not going away, so I had to do some research…

Not long later, there it was. Looking right at me. A photo of him, a woman (his ex, I presumed) and a child. I also found out a few other things he failed to mention.

After this fucking bombshell, I had to give myself a couple of hours to absorb the information and figure out how I was going to approach it. Ugh, the audacity!! Not only did I tell him from the first date that men with children was one of my deal breakers, but I also cannot stand dishonesty. Nonetheless, remaining calm and collected was the only way to be at this moment.

Around 6:00am, we spoke over the phone. I called him out. He chose to deny having a child at first (wow), then admitted it, then had the cheek to try and get me off the phone. But I gladly did because I was fucking knackered and couldn’t be asked to hear any more of his shit! To think he had referred to his son as his “nephew” before I found out. How wrong is that?!

A couple of days later with no contact, he wanted to talk face to face and lay all his cards out on the table. I gave him the opportunity to say his piece. He confessed to many things including his child, his living situation, the situation with his ex, some stuff about his family, blocking me on social media to prevent me from finding out!!! He then went on to explain why he lied and pleaded for forgiveness. I asked him whether there was anything else to reveal, he said no. Then I had done the most unexpected, out of character move – I gave him another chance. Yes! I know.

I admit, my “weakness” is that I have a lot of empathy for people which means I’m extremely forgiving and will always give a person the benefit of the doubt.

Now, with my trust at 0% and paranoia up at 100%, it was only ever gonna go in one direction right? Agreed. So what in the hell was I thinking giving him another shot? Heart over head… it happens, what else can I say? As time went by, we bickered a lot, I questioned him about his honesty, and every so often I’d ask if he had anything else to tell me. He swore on mine and his child’s life that that there wasn’t anything left to tell. He promised he’d never lie again. Then guess what? I found out he was lying…again. This time about something as stupid, small and unnecessary as smoking. The craziest thing is that he repeated the same behaviour! Denied it, then admitted to it. Why? Why not just admit it? I never understood the smaller lies, it was completely mind boggling to me.

So to summarise his behaviour so far: he lied straight my face, he denied the truth, he broke his promises and happily said anything (i.e. swear on mine and his child’s life) to ensure he was in the clear.

Now is the part when you’ll cuss me down or express some form of disappointment because I gave him a 3rd and final chance 🤦🏻‍♀️ (final chance, believe me, it really was!)

As we continued our relationship, I noticed some changes in him. He was less vague, he seemed a lot more comfortable, he was very open with everything and I could see he was working hard to earn my trust back. After so much tension and negative energy between us, it kind of felt like things were slowly starting to improve. We spent more time together, we took lovely trips away, we were laughing a lot more, it felt like “us” again. Unfortunately this didn’t last very long… because something else started bothering me.

I hadn’t met any of his friends or family yet! He always discussed introducing me, he even gave me dates but it never came to fruition. He pushed the date back then would always try to avoid discussing or cut the conversation short whenever I brought the topic up. Naturally, my suspicions were turned on full blast and my intuition was kicking in again. Was this motherfucker married? Engaged? What the fuck was he hiding now?

New Years Eve – we argued. After a weekend away – we argued. It was getting extremely tiring. My patience was wearing thin and I was fed up of having this constant feeling of paranoia/anxiety/irritation. A day after one of our arguments, I’m not sure what came over me (but I’m almost certain it was the power of prayer), I decided to do some further research on him. And that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

He was lying about his age the whole damn time.

At his point, I finally took off those rose tinted glasses! This was the moment my brain found its way back into my head and I had the biggest epiphany you could ever imagine. It was like all the things I was in denial about suddenly surfaced and overflowed to the top. The mask had dropped… and this manipulative, insecure, controlling, mentally unstable and selfish person was revealed. Who the hell was this guy??? I felt sorry for him if anything. And as crazy as it sounds, I even started to feel curious. With my interest in human behaviour and psychology – I found myself Googling things like: “Signs of a pathological or compulsive liar” and “What causes people to be pathological or compulsive liars” – it was very interesting! Oh and by the way… I obviously done all this research after I broke up with him!

Of course, I ended things immediately. I dropped the text and blocked him. I didn’t want to see the guy, I didn’t want to speak to the guy, I didn’t want to give him a chance to explain. I just needed this toxic energy out of my life for good.

A couple days later, I got a text from a random number. It was a request to unblock him so he could arrange something. I already knew what he was going to say. I had one of his hoodies at mine and he wanted it back. Of course he did. 🙄
The arrangement was that I’d leave it in a bag outside my house at 8:30pm and he’d come and collect it. Great, sorted! I blocked him again. Except that he wanted to be spiteful towards me… so I received another text with attitude and pure rudeness. He stated that he was going to return all my gifts and cards. I told him to throw it all in the bin but he insisted on giving them back to me. Sure, whatever. I’ll throw it in the bin myself then. I can’t say I really cared too much at this point. Although, I did care about my own safety so I had to call in some muscle (aka. a couple of my guy friends) to protect me! LOL! I mean… I did’t really know who he was anymore so I wasn’t sure what he’d be capable of! Anyway, he took his hoodie back, I took the bag of stuff (which came with an apology letter) and no one got hurt – thankfully!

The next morning, I received a text. It was only him again. This time he was acting erratic. He wanted my gifts and cards back. 🙄🙄🙄 He’s lucky I hadn’t throw them away yet! I told him to stop acting crazy, sent one final (firm but fair) message and gave him a window to take the stuff back. He sent me a very, very long text, I read it a few times and then deleted it… along with everything else that reminded me of him. I shredded all his cards, deleted photos of us, threw stuff in the bin. Oh, I forgot to mention – in the text, he asked me to meet him on a certain day, at a certain time and place. I know what he was doing… it was a manipulative move from him to say the least. I never showed up. I’m the kind of person that when I say I’m done. I’m done. It would be a miracle if you think you could change my mind.

3 weeks had gone by since the break up, I came home from work one day and saw a letter posted through my door. He requested to meet me again. I figured I may as well tell him to his face… perhaps he’ll get the message then. We met, he spoke mostly… and I was very direct about how I felt. It was a long night. He asked me to give him a final chance and to think about it. A couple days later, I told him where I was at.

In summary, I was over it all. I wanted us both to move on. I forgave him and wished him well but there was no chance of reconcilliation. I had nothing left for him. No love, no respect, no trust. I told him that he needed to sort his head out, find happiness within, start being honest with people and set himself free. I asked that he never contacted me again.

And that was the chapter closed. I’ve never heard from him since.


Lessons learned

It wasn’t until this relationship that I truly understood the power of honesty/dishonesty. I’ve been lied to before but never to this extent. I’ve always been an honest person, bar the little white lies before (but who doesn’t tell little white lies?) I can’t express how being upfront and honest saves you so much time and energy! Why on earth would someone chose to put themselves through the process of lying then having to remember and keep up with all of their wild stories. It’s an effort! And how can people lie with so much ease – not feeling any guilt or remorse for the other party involved. There’s no morals whatsoever.

This relationship was definitely a “whirlwind romance” – it came as fast as it had gone, but as I’ve said, I always learn, and in this case, I’ve taken away an incredible amount. Call it a blessing in disguise. I’m thankful I got myself out sooner than later, had I not followed my intuition, I would still be with him and he would still be lying to me right this second.

I felt at ease walking away knowing that I tried, I gave it my all, I never lost my composure and that my intentions were always pure. I’m proud of myself for knowing my value and worth and I’m happy that I put my needs and mental wellbeing first. In hindsight, I should have left from when I discovered the first lie as it was major! But obviously, when you’re in your feelings, things do become blurred. Unfortunately for some, it leads to so much damage! Situation like these can take its toll on your confidence, happiness, other relationships, lifestyle and health (physical/mental). I’ve seen and heard it happen with many people – cases that were a lot worse than mine! When you settle and/or accept certain behaviours, you end up sacrificing yourself by going through absolute hell and back, then once you’re back, you spend a lot of time in your head trying to convince yourself it’ll get better… and the cycle continues.

My experience from being with a compulsive liar has helped me realise what early red flags to look out for (and hopefully I won’t need to even consider red flags in future). It’s important to follow your intuition, always be honest as a person (it’ll make life easier), always forgive no matter what (you owe yourself freedom) and never give up hope. There really are so many people out there that will fit the bill! Never change your goal posts for others, never settle for less than what you deserve. Make sure you talk to friends and family – because they will be your eyes when you’re unable to see clearly. As a final note from me…

Life is far too short to waste time and energy on things, situations or people that don’t serve you. And trust me when I say that self-love is the first step to finding true love and happiness.