Over the years, several clients have said to me in one way or the other “I was stupid to hope…” or “If only I didn’t hope….,” blaming themselves for believing something would get better in a bad, sometimes brutal situation. It has always amazed me that these individuals who have survived against all odds have been able to keep their light of hope on, let alone let it eventually guide them away from those situations, once they decided on a new route.
We tend to blame hope for our hurt. If only we hadn’t expected so much…..if only I had just seen the stark reality of where I was and what I was doing….if only I had believed that person to be their darker side, rather than hoping that the other side of them, a lighter, more caring side would emerge and be a permanent resident. Hope can set us up for disappointment. Urgh! Darn hope! But hope also does something else to us that is unexpected. Many who are recovering from relationships will say that they hoped during that time for peace in their relationships, healthy conflict resolution, acceptance from the other person, and a loving, kind, responsible and fun person to share their lives with. All of those are very healthy desires for a relationship, and tell us more about what we want in a relationship, the type of person we want to be with and what kind of life we want to share with the other person. Listening to that voice that tells us what we are looking for helps our brain to determine if what we are looking for fits what we have currently. And if that answer is a strong NO….then some examination may be necessary (perhaps even with a good therapist!) for change in the relationship and our lives. We may hope that the other person fits that bill very strongly, but determining that can only be answered in the very deepest part of our being, that nagging voice that says, “Is this right?” or “Is this really a good fit?”
In those dark moments where we are hoping that things will get better, we are holding on to hope as one would cling to the last candle in a cave. We hope while we are in the cave that the candle will help us survive the cave, but we are also looking to the candle as a way to lead us out. In the same way, the strong hope that a situation will get better will also be the same strength and skill set that leads us out. Out of the darkness into a place that is more authentic to who we are and what kind of relationship we want to be in.
Please Note: If you are currently in a relationship that is emotionally, physically or sexually abusive, it can be very dangerous to leave right away without a plan or other people knowing. If this is your situation, and you want information on how to safely leave, please call the National Abuse Hotline at 1800-799-SAFE (7233) or if you are in Louisville or the surrounding areas call Center for Women and Families 24 hour crisis line at (502) 581-7222. You can find resources at the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) at http://www.kdva.org/victim_services/kydvcenter.html , however please delete this website from your browser after viewing for your safety.