Let's work on ourselves this Valentine's Day

Sometimes you need to take your time to heal from heartbreak./ 123rf
Sometimes you need to take your time to heal from heartbreak./ 123rf

Oh dear, Valentine's Day is upon us once again and we have yet to find an adequate response to Whitney Houston's pertinent question: Where Do Broken Hearts Go?

Perhaps Luther Vandross's reply will suffice: If you can't be with the one you love, Love The One You're With.

I've been told that the best way to get over someone is to get under somebody else. That's one way of dealing with a break-up, I suppose.

A healthier alternative, however, would be to stop, conduct a relationship postmortem and assess your contribution to the cause of death, before you move on.

You may find that while you, like all of us, are flawed, the severing of ties was through no fault of your own. In which case, perhaps you are better off alone. But you could also discover that the blame lies squarely on your shoulders.

We are quick to find fault in others, we hastily call out their hogwash, but are sluggish, unable or unwilling to confront our own toxicity.

For some of us, the truth is, our relationship failed because we have harmed. We lied, cheated, neglected and undermined. We have caused pain, unintentionally or otherwise.

It's difficult to admit guilt because there is sympathy for the transgressed, but little comfort for the remorseful transgressor.

I recently bumped into someone that I had hurt deeply in the past and I came face-to-face with the consequences of my actions.

I was gutted, not because the person in question was in bad shape or I wanted to rekindle an old flame. On the contrary, they were doing well and I couldn't be happier.

But the pain that I had caused seeped through this man's smile and peered through the veil of our small talk, and I was sorry, more sorry than I could articulate. I came to a place of reckoning.

I know that I am not a bad person, I mean well, but I must admit that at the point where our paths crossed, I was a real c****y human being!

There's always a reason why we behave badly isn't there?

But the truth is our rationalisations may help to cushion the blow, but they don't eradicate the fact that a blow has indeed been dealt.

So what are we to do, because to err is human?

Well, we cannot turn back the hands of time, but we can confront ourselves, apologise without reservation.

Bear in mind that you are not entitled to pardon, just because you suddenly realise that you've been a jerk. Don't even expect to be listened to; your epiphany does not give you right of reply. Your reward is the ability to recognise your faults and the grace to self-correct.

At this point, let me hasten to add that remorse is not synonymous with self-loathing. Recognising your faults and owning up to them should not lead to a perpetual state of self-chastisement.

That defeats the purpose, it only serves to magnify you, by making you - and not the person you have wronged - the central figure.

Forgive yourself.

If you can salvage what's left of the relationship, good for you. If the shattered pieces cannot be recovered, allow yourself to feel the pain, mourn the loss, take responsibility, forgive yourself and move on.

If you present with a pattern of destructive behavior that keeps repeating itself, get professional help. There is no shame in seeking assistance, in fact, you owe it to yourself and others to be well.

So here's to a Valentine's Day where we confront ourselves, take stock of our flaws, work on our faults, nurture healthy relationships and where we fall short, ask for forgiveness, and grow.

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