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Editor’s Note: July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health experts Venice and Vernon Moore, who live in East Haven and run their company in North Haven, will be writing a series of columns on mental health this month.
“What you don’t heal in your singleness will spread like a disease in your togetherness.”
Wow. As we are well into the third week of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s talk about identity and who we are in relationships. We are all born into this world and shaped by our experiences. Most of us desire to be in some sort of intimate relationship with other people, and when we do, we realize that relationships can be a lot, and if we have a deeper sense of awareness of ourselves, we realize we can be a lot to deal with as well.
Have you heard anyone say, “I need a woman who…” or “I need a man who…”? We as human beings are known for listing all types of standards and a laundry list of things we need for a person to make us happy. Well, what about what you bring to the table? The things that have made you who you are that may not be the most attractive traits. We’re not just talking about qualifications and credentials, but what stuff are you bringing to the table that you have not healed from?
You may have experiences, past hurt or negative learned behaviors that you had no idea you were bringing into your relationship. Do you notice your significant other or the people closest to you point out things that you still do as an adult that you know came from something you experienced at 5, 9, or 11 years old?
When we really check ourselves and are honest with ourselves, we may not always like the answers to these questions. Recognizing that we have patterns and behaviors that are unconscious to us and that we don’t necessarily have control over can be scary, but recognizing these patterns and how they affect us and those we love can be the growth we need—not to bash the ego, but to actually help build the ego and be focused on more positive responses and interactions that can help you better know who you are as a person. It’s hard for some of us to see how our past experiences have shaped who we are ourselves and certainly how it affects our relationships.
When we’re alone and in our thoughts, we know those things that can be eating away from us that we need to work on—past trauma, a past relationship, death of a loved one, or even being depressed. Yet we still find a way to push through and continue existing, because of the fast-paced and chaotic world that we live in. No wonder when we now get around people or loved ones, at times we can be moody or standoffish! We are just getting used to being around people and don’t know if we should just wave and smile! Times have changed. We have changed. And we still need healing. So don’t brush your thoughts under the rug and wait another year if you need help; it’s okay to choose peace in your mind.
So now you’ve gotten to a place where you are in a relationship (or admitted that you want to be in one), and things are good, yet you still have internal work to do...what will you do!? Why is there a constant need to have to work on ourselves? The truth of the matter is, because if we have children or desire to have children, this means that when we are working on ourselves then we are healing the inner child in us while breaking the patterns for our children, who are going to be leaders in the world. And if you don’t have children and don’t desire to have any, you still are healing so that you can be a better you to you and others will like to be around you. And you will have peace with yourself and in relationships.
The most important personal relationship you can have and nurture is with yourself. It all goes full circle.
Venice and Vernon Moore are the Owners of Embracing Your Difference, a mental health private practice and leadership firm in North Haven. To learn more about the Embracing Your Difference Movement or to find out more about their latest work, The Self Love and Self-Healing Workbook, visit www.embraceyourdifference.com.