No Second Chances: The Cost of Devaluing

1994 apology essay

Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. 

Sometimes relationship presents itself beautifully, but dark emotions sabotage the beauty.

That’s what happened to me, and knowing why doesn’t completely heal the wound.  I had a chance and wasted it.  It was an unwise choice that haunted me in the past, but I have made peace with it now.

What I regret most of all is how I mistreated myself.  At that time, I believed the dark voices in my head that told me I didn’t deserve love, that no one wanted me.  Those voices came from a place inside which had been betrayed, cheated, and rejected.  That place inside was an open wound, and I couldn’t accept something good because I saw myself in such a negative light.

I turned my anger inward that should have been directed at pushy boyfriends.  I told myself if I had been more open, more willing, more flexible, it would have been different.  I ignored their demanding behavior and completely blamed myself, not them, for the souring of those relationships.  Still, I was hurting and conflicted deep within, attracted and repulsed by the idea of another relationship.

In self-protection against further hurt, I directed my anger generally at the whole world of men.  I wrote them off as demanding, selfish, untrustworthy creatures.  I promised myself I would keep all men at arm’s length.  I set out to carefully control their influence over me.  This is what happened after the doomed prom night, a direct result of my lack of assertive confrontation.

At that fragile time in the spring of 1994, what I needed most was spiritual healing.  I needed the healing of unconditional love and acceptance by my Heavenly Father.  I was not truly capable of a healthy, reciprocal romantic relationship because my wounds were too fresh.  I was still sore from the previous semester’s deep depression.  But I could have used a kind, understanding, patient friend.  And I probably would have found one in this boy who approached me so tentatively.

I convinced myself after that wasted class day that I didn’t really need his offer of friendship.  I could live without it, and it wasn’t a big deal.  I devalued his offer.  However, the tension between us lasted throughout the following school year and the situation was never resolved.

In Changes That Heal, Dr. Henry Cloud discusses the cost of devaluation:

This is a horrible defense, because people are pushing away what they most need…It would be like starving to death, someone giving us a steak, and our saying, “It’s probably poisoned.”  Because of our devaluation, we remain in a starving state, never able to get food.  We remain in isolation because the risks of love are so great.

I can’t get that chance back.  I can’t make it right now.  But I can forgive myself for refusing what I needed the most at that time.  For not doing good, even to myself, when I had the opportunity (Galatians 6:10).  I can also teach my children to be honest in their relationships.  To be honest with themselves about their needs for relationship.  I can show my children they are always worthy of love.  I can teach them love is worth the risk.  As the saying goes, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” (Tennyson).

 

Reflection

Do you remember a time when you didn’t get a second chance at a relationship?  What relevance does that have to your life now?

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