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What Kind of Emotional Baggage Are You Bringing Into Your Relationship?

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We all come into relationships with some emotional baggage.  What happened in our previous relationships can have a huge impact on what happens in the next one.  This is something that I know first hand.  While I’m not proud of this fact, it sometimes feels like a survival skill.  In my previous relationship, I had an emotionally abusive partner. If you look up emotional abuse, he checked all the boxes, and I was his victim.  Sometimes I feel like I was part of the problem.  Why did I let it go on for so long?  Why didn’t I stop it sooner?  I don’t like to think of myself as a victim, but the alternative is that I had the wool pulled over my eyes and that I chose to stay in that relationship.  Neither sounds like a good option.

Now that I’m in a healthy relationship, I find myself getting triggered by different situations.  For example, I saw someone’s name and a phone number written on a piece of paper in my boyfriend’s house, over the weekend.  I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was having an affair.  Why did I jump to this conclusion?  Because part of the abuse in my previous relationship was in the form of infidelity.  But here’s how the scenario played out for me.  I made the assumption that he was being unfaithful.  I asked him about it.  I was quite calm considering that I had been down this road before.  His answer was rational (and true, I might add).  But because I had been in this EXACT situation before, I couldn’t shake what was in my head.

I’m currently in a long distance relationship, so this can add to the erosion of my trust.  Do I trust my boyfriend?  Completely.  Do I think he would tell me if things weren’t working in our relationship?  100%. And yet, there is still this past trauma that I just can’t shake.  He’s proven himself worthy to me time and again.  There are no signs that he’s cheating, but my past says – maybe I need to dig deeper.

While I don’t pretend to be a relationship expert, I’ve said it before, I do have enough experience of what not to do, to be able to advise you on what to do.  That said, the big question is how do we get past these traumas?  I might recommend counseling as it’s been helping me.  Depending on the kind of trauma that you’ve experienced, you might need to seek a counselor who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  This is the idea of changing the way that we’re thinking.  In general, I think a lot of people could benefit from CBT.  That’s not to say that what you’re thinking is bad, but is it right?

In the scenario that I painted above, my boyfriend wasn’t cheating, and his explanation was completely on the up-and-up.  But that didn’t stop my mind from taking me back to that place where I was on the floor in tears realizing that my then partner had not only been lying to me but also was cheating on me. CBT helps me (and should help you) to identify how you’re thinking.  Are your thoughts all negative?  Do you always assume the worst?  CBT helps you to be able to understand your thought process so that you can calm down in these situations.

I am certainly not a doctor or a medical professional.  These are two strategies that are currently helping me.  They’re not gone completely, but the intensity of the feelings when they start have lessened.  Changing the way you think will help you in all of your relationships, but especially in your romantic ones.