Sharing Your Story With Your New Partner
by: Avery Smith
February, the month of love. It’s all around us and one day, when you are ready, you can have it too. Though one thing that may be holding you back is your past. When I think about my past, it reminds me of a wonderful scene from the movie A Lion King, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” Trauma is intense and it can hurt and linger for a long time and it’s okay to take your time processing it. The reason I love this quote is that eventually, we are going to want to let that trauma out and start to heal. Instead of running away from what we are scared of, process it, figure out your boundaries and learn what happiness is for you.
Talking about past abuse you've experienced with a new partner can be challenging. In some of my relationships since I left my abuser, I just shouted out my story without any motive behind it; there have also been partners I've never told. It’s may never feel like the right time, but you will have a gut instinct when you are ready. My rule is to never force it. I knew I was ready to tell my boyfriend when I felt safe and comfortable. Of course, I was nervous that there could be backlash and questions and I was extremely scared that he could think I was lying or being overdramatic. For me, the good outweighed the bad; I wanted to get this thing off of my chest, not to show him I was broken, but to show him how I overcame and survived.
If you are ready to tell your partner about your past, awesome! I am very proud of you that you are ready to take that step. There still may be questions lurking in your head and your nerves may be running high, but I’m here to calm you down and help make this process a bit easier. Ground yourself before approaching the situation. Write it down if it’s easier for you. Remember to have your boundaries set. If you get unsettled, it’s okay to take a step back.
Ground yourself before going into the talk. If your partner is coming over to talk about your story, do some meditation work beforehand. Have your grounding techniques on hand in case you need to compose yourself. When the time comes, do whatever you need to be safe. Light a candle in the room so the smell grounds you.
Write it down. I always feel that writing it out can be helpful if you think you will go off track. Sometimes, when trauma is brought up, you will have this sense of spewing everything out because your adrenaline will be pumping. Bullet-point your ideas down so you know what you want to say so that after the conversations over, you feel satisfied with the information you gave.
Set your boundaries. When you tell your story to people, they will have questions. If you know you do not want to answer any questions, you just want to tell your story, voice that. If you are comfortable with some of their questions, say it! Set those boundaries, queens! This is your story and you get to tell it how you want. If they start to push your boundary, just gently remind them that you are not ready to speak on that.
It’s okay for you to take a step back. If you prepared yourself for this day and you back out, that’s okay! This does not mean you failed it just means you need a bit more time. If you get halfway through and you feel yourself starting to panic, pause. Compose yourself. Do you need to leave the room? Do it. Do you need a hug from your partner, ask them. Tell them how you are feeling and what you are needing at that point. If you want to be alone, take a step outside and take a deep breath or ask them to leave the room for a minute so you can recompose yourself. Whatever you need to do, do it. This is your story, this is your time, you need to feel safe and comfortable.
When you are done telling your partner, take time to do something that will relax you. If you want to just lay there and put on a funny movie, do it! If you want to get your favorite food or ice cream, do it! I would suggest staying in that night just because you opened yourself back up and reopened your wounds, but if going out and distracting yourself is something that helps you, do it! I will continue to reiterate it until it sticks, this is about you, you do what you need during this time.
Always remember, never feel pressured to tell your story, especially in a budding relationship. If you have a feeling something is wrong, go with that gut feeling. Again, you just want to be safe and happy in your new relationship. Put up your boundaries and just have fun! When you are ready to open your heart again, go for it! I will leave you with this; “It takes a strong heart to love, but it takes an even stronger heart to continue to love after its been hurt.”