Recently, my Survivor’s group discussed the difficulty we all have with relationships. Everyone at one point in their lives has difficulties with forming and maintaining relationships, but this discussion shed a great deal of light on the unique struggles that survivors have with all types of relationships.
Think back to a time when you had your first love or your first crush and remember the feelings that you had. You probably felt a variety of strong feelings, like being elated that someone finds you attractive, being nervous and anxious that the other person might not reciprocate your attraction, or being giddy and silly happy when that relationship started.
For most survivors, those situations and feelings are never experienced. Our initial thoughts might be, “What do I have to sacrifice so that this person will like me?” or “What does this person want from me?” Rather than embracing the innocence of being enamored with someone else, we build walls of mistrust, cultivate seeds of doubt in ourselves and others, and shut down our emotions completely. Faced with those times when others are figuring out how to start an intimate relationship, our past experiences cause us to run as far away as possible in the opposite direction.
However, survivors can still form deep, intimate relationships with others. I want to encourage those survivors to give yourself time and grace, talking with professionals and close friends, about the feelings that you are experiencing. Learn from others the tools you need to trust, to gain confidence, and to love others in a healthy, safe way. God desires that we have abundant lives, and we can certainly achieve that through hard work and perseverance.