Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 58: The Teachings of Adversarial Love

“I’m coping with my trauma by trying to find different ways to heal it rather than hide it.”
-Clemantine Wamariya

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Deskraven Blog where we unearth the ugly truths of mental illness as it relates to life, love, and happiness.

In my spiritual quest to process and release the trauma that binds us all I began to learn about the lasting impact relationship injury can have on future intimacy, as well as the soul contracts we may not even realize we’re tangled up in. In general, insecurity is not a personality trait of mine, but recently I have been feeling more of it so it prompted me to look inward.

In examining my past relationships I realized they all hurt me in their own way, and I no doubt casted my own pain toward them. Indeed, no one escapes companionship unthwarted. While seeking out my relationship patterns I noticed they would invariably come to an end around the two year mark like some sick clockwork. Likewise, I found myself chasing the unobtainable, often seeking those who lacked a promising foundation, let alone mutual respect and reciprocity.

My current relationship offers a stark contrast to control dynamics and the threat of an invariable end, and yet I found myself soaking in a tearful uncertainty as if past transgressions were any indication of what the future may hold. A large part of therapeutic work involves accepting the good that is being offered to you without question, however, I find value in dismantling previously held beliefs that result from mistreatment. Am I deserving of love? Am I capable of sustaining another blow? Do I have unresolved hurt? The answer to all of these is a resounding yes.

True love is passionately engaging, but more importantly it is practical and mature. It never seeks to harm, create jealousy, or endorse possessiveness. Love remains the most written about subject in music, film, art, and other areas of the creative industry. Even the Bible offers a famous and promising passage: love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Within my reflection I found a most reoccurring theme of fear that surfaced as a product of hate, manipulation, infidelity, trauma, and abuse. In the past I was consistently exposed to lying, cheating, stealing partners. Partners who tore me down. Partners who informed me of my inadequacy, my inability to communicate, and left me with the kind of manipulative circular reasoning that would make even the most sound mind question her sanity. Partners who indicated to me I would be nothing without them. Partners who physically restrained and abused me. Partners who resorted to name calling and weaponized my vulnerability. Partners who robbed me of my peace of mind, my sound sleep, and my financial stability. Partners who slit their wrists in front of me.

In the face of adversarial love I found that when I wasn’t being abandoned, I was being told on a regular basis that I was unreliable, insufficient, and incorrect – and maybe I was. I had a lot of work to do. In learning how relationships serve as a reflection of self, it became apparent that my self worth was greatly suffering. The truth is we accept the love we think we deserve, and we teach others how to treat us, indirectly or otherwise. Clearly, I needed to raise my bar in more ways than one.

Fortunately, my first liberation in mindfulness work was learning that being less controlling in how we love allows the experience itself to take precedence over the fear of it passing. In a world where autonomy has only recently become desirable, the most radical thing we can learn is the fact that true reassurance lies in the space we provide our loved ones to choose us everyday, not in the ugly jealous strides we make to exert our possession over them.

My mind can rationalize the hurt I’ve endured, and the way it contributes to my behavior. I have had to rebuild and relearn my own definitions of healthy relationship dynamics as they relate to trust, intimacy, and devotion. I have had to tap into those areas of my life that exist apart from my partner, and begin to nurture them in order to be a more loving and less wounded human. The heart and body are different creatures, however. They keep score – and if you’re not careful to grieve properly – the wound will spread to other major organs. Healing from relationship trauma begins with setting hard fast boundaries that allow you to insulate yourself long enough to do the work. Take ownership of your well-being with the understanding that no one can do it for you. Remember you are safe and capable of creating lasting change in your life. Remember the ability to discern between the idea of something, the memory of it, and the reality of it.

Sadly, many people would rather be abused than be alone. I think it’s safe to say we have all fallen for the idea or concept someone is offering us, even if the reality of it is littered with red flags. Likewise, human memory is inherently faulty. You must consider the possibility that the way you remember things, especially traumatic things, isn’t the way it went. We tend to remember how we felt during an experience rather than the experience itself. I would be the first to admit I have turned to others to validate my memories for me, and it has been very helpful.

Ultimately, you should never go into any kind of relationship that asks you to compromise fundamental parts of yourself, or your ability to communicate them effectively. While no relationship is perfect, your heart will never seek to change or fix the right partner. While some work is required in every union, there should also be equal parts natural flow – that space that allows you to rest in the love and peace you’ve created for one another – free from doubt, stress, and drama.

Finally, the spiritual perspective teaches us about the potential for soul mates and twin flames. The idea is that they are sent by our higher self for our own soul’s growth and development. There is a lot to unpack here, but that is another Blog for another day. For now, ponder all that you have learned from those who have hurt you the most. It may feel impossible, but seek out the value of your suffering. Our perpetrators have the potential to be our greatest teachers.

True love is a victory march, not a sprint or a competition. Do not let your past overcome your successes, or cause a great dividing disservice to your current life. It is important to honor your grief, even your regret, but don’t allow it to take up residence with what you value now. Don’t allow the actions (or inactions) of others to invent dissatisfaction or breed contempt in your relationship. Whenever I catch myself slipping, all I have to do is look at her – and remember the way she casts the very light I could never manifest for myself on my most ambitious days. Oozing with gratitude never fails me.

Discuss: How has your past impacted your current relationship? What is your communication like with your partner? What lessons have you learned from those who have betrayed you?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

Polyamory: Exploring Free Love and Mental Health

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Dear Readers,

Similar to bisexuality, polyamory is often misunderstood as a selfish endeavor. However, indulging in this alternative lifestyle myself for a number of years suddenly revealed to me why I grew increasingly unhappy in my long-term monogamous relationships. Before I understood this about myself, I was intensely isolated by my confusion and complete lack of joy within my invariably badly-patterned relationships. As an abundantly loving person who has zero difficulty facing accountability, this became increasingly painful. So, what does it mean to be polyamorous?

Your Google dictionary writes, “Polyamory is the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.”

While pretty self-explanatory, polyamory relies heavily on consent and communication when compared to single suitors. The difference is that the individuals within polyamorous dynamics are communicating on a level of greater magnitude with more individuals, and a great deal of consideration for the other party. Some relationships celebrate dual dynamics or triads, while still others may engage in the pursuit of romance with the same individual- but not necessarily with each other. Some of these dynamics may include multiple sexual orientations, genders, and/or produce children, others may not.

The topic of consent includes the knowledge or awareness of their lover’s involvement with others and therefore, does not fall under the umbrella of infidelity or polygamy. Instead, it is accepted and embraced that one may love more than one person at the same time. Still more, some choose to participate in social hierarchy’s that celebrate a primary partner, while others choose to disperse equality evenly among their amorous partnerships.

A common misconception is that polyamory is a way to have your cake and eat it too. However, this lifestyle narrows in less on diversified sex and more on intimate open relationships. This juggling act often requires highly evolved maturity, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Likewise, the personal labels, definitions, and dynamics vary greatly within the community itself, and therefore seemingly can not be netted into a true north.

Rachel Kieran from GoodTherapy writes, “Terms used to identify such relationships are as numerous as the individuals who endorse them, continue to evolve within cultures, and are often dependent upon the particular configuration of the couple, triad, or family at a given moment.”

In a world where we are talking about the various levels of sexuality, gender, and relationships it is important to remember that the perspectives and definitions therein are highly susceptible to context and subjective reasoning. Personally, I have found that dismissing labels or social explanation altogether while exploring my own happiness has served me greatly since I find them to be great exacerbaters of confinement.

Kieran continues, “We must challenge ourselves to confront our own values and stereotypes around sexual and relational diversity.”

So, what are the mental health benefits of an open relational dynamic? Perhaps the most obvious, expanded dynamics relieve the singular pressure often placed on one person in a conventional relationship to protect, provide, perform, and compromise. Also contributing to a healthy psychology is the emphasis on human communication, empathy, and a deeply intentional consideration for others. The awareness that multifaceted relationships produce toward one’s own truth and desire can offer a great sense of peace and freedom that may nurture any previously held depression or anxiety associated with the experience of embracing only one partner. Likewise, there is a great sense of community that may strengthen one’s sense of familial ties or resourcefulness in times of hardship for those participating in polyamory.

In short, polyamory explains the idea of free love in modern times albeit with a bit more depth and sophistication. It celebrates the power of permission and full-disclosure in our understanding of romance. It promotes self-examination and accountability. It challenges any previously held notions and relieves us of the chains of traditionalism while contributing to our intellectual wellness and sense of community.

Even for those who have trouble grasping this, the fundamental message that we love often, more than once, and in many ways seem to remain universal.

Visit the Source: Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD
Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD

What are your thoughts, opinions, and experiences regarding polyamorous identities?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!