Turning the 'Dirty 30'

August 27. 2014 10:03AM
By Melissa Hughes Weekender Correspondent

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Most adults I know have had some negative experiences when it comes to dating. As we grow and discover more about who we are and what we want in a mate, there are many opportunities that can cause you significant amounts of pain in the love arena. How do you learn to balance the pain from lessons learned in your past while still allowing yourself to be open to new experiences in the future?

While I don't think you should hold these jaded feelings against the new people you meet, its only human to not be so nave when it comes to matters of the heart. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to my dating life, the road has been very rocky. I have been in some horrible relationships throughout these past 30 years and while I have learned something from each experience, it hasn't always been a good lesson.

I have been haunted by the ghosts of relationships past. I have often wondered if it is possible to get back to a feeling of naivety when the past has so prominently changed the course of my emotional self. Do I really want to be that innocent again?

One of the more significant relationships of my twenties was with a man who was always on his phone. He always had it locked, was very shady making sure I never saw the screen and would never part with it (even in the bathroom). He claimed to be on it so much because of his job, other times it was because he was reading the news or following sports or the stock market, but I later found out he was maintaining three other relationships and I was just too blind to see all the signs.

This left a pretty large scar for me in the trust department. I believed in him and he broke that. In the relationships that followed, I found myself having mini panic attacks whenever the guy I was seeing was checking his phone, especially if he had a lock on the screen. It took a long time to derail this train of thinking and I still find myself getting the occasional voice in the back of my mind telling me to be on alert when the situation arises. In truth, I don't know if that is something I will ever fully recover from.

Is it a conscious choice to keep these painful reminders in the backs of our minds or is that just human nature to not allow ourselves to let things go? Do we have power over the ghosts that we find lingering and is it possible to get an exorcism? It is unfair to hold open our own emotional wounds and expect the new love in our lives to be the band aid over a scar that they were not responsible for making.

I don't want my past to ruin my present. It's time to write a new chapter in my book and I'll be damned if I will let my past draw the illustrations. I ain't afraid of no ghost.

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