All of my relationships end the same way: the guy breaks up with me, and I am devastated. I wish that I could cleanse myself of interest in romance. I really want a relationship, but I don’t think I can take any more rejection. Why do men dump me? Why can’t I let go of my desire for a relationship? I have prayed about this, but God does not answer. I need some words of wisdom to help me through this pain.
If you have truly opened yourself to loving and being loved, you can expect to be hurt. Rejection and abandonment are common experiences in intimate relationships. As the Catholic priest Richard Rohr wrote, “Love is a humbling experience, as we learn in our interactions with intimate friends. We must learn how to keep giving and dying and getting hurt and overcoming the obstacles—it’s terribly humbling to love. That’s why the proud person cannot love or grow. There’s no pain on Earth like the pain of rejection. Especially when we lay out our life, when we surrender ourselves, when we let go of our heart and the other does not let go of his or hers. Rejection reveals the seemingly bottomless character of our need and our need to connect.”
As you reflect on why you still feel called to intimate relationships, consider the words of writer bell hooks. In All About Love: New Visions, she writes: “Despite all the lovelessness that surrounds us, nothing has been able to block our longing for love, the intensity of our yearning. The understanding that love redeems appears to be a resilient aspect of the heart’s knowledge. The healing power of redemptive love lures us and calls us toward the possibility of healing. We cannot account for the presence of the heart’s knowledge. Like all great mysteries, we are all mysteriously called to love no matter the conditions of our lives, the degree of our depravity or despair. The persistence of this call to love gives us reason to hope.”
As you progress toward healing, be certain that your troubles are not the fruit of childhood traumas. A counselor or 12-step program can help you sort through your history and determine whether it is inspiring unhealthy behavior today.
My wife and I have a child who was born with Down syndrome. People tell us that we are strong to be able to cope with our son and our two other children. I don’t feel strong. I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Now, I think I’m going to be laid off, and my mother-in-law may move in with us. I am afraid I’m going to fall apart.
If you do, rest assured that you can put yourself back together again—with a little help from your friends. You do need support to help you through these challenges. A friend can inspire hope, which is precisely what you need to diminish your fears. If people are telling you that you are strong, it’s your responsibility to tell the truth: “I don’t always feel that way.” After all, if you appear to have your life color-coded and filed, no one will think to extend a hand. Also, consider whether you feel guilty about your son or your frustration in coping with life. If so, remind yourself that you are a good person. If you truly have caused harm, make amends so that you can live in the present. The past may be filled with adversity, and the future may be a cipher, but the present is rich with possibilities. Let yourself affirm the hope, trust and patience inherent in living one day at a time.