How to Live With (Emotional) Scars

During a bad break up, try not to cut off your nose to spite your face.


I saw that a friend’s marriage ended because her spouse cheated on her a short time after their wedding. Part of her revenge was to excise everything to do with him from her life, including deleting all their pictures together.

This seems to be standard protocol when good relationships have bitter ends, but it saddens me to think someone would invalidate a huge, important swath of their life to trade it off for being bitter about that part of their past for the REST of their life.

I have been in relationships that ended badly (including a marriage that ended very badly) but I do not begrudge any of my partners their faults or mine (and I certainly have plenty).

None of us were handed a manual titled, “This is How to be the Perfect Human Being”. I am not absolving anyone of their bad choices, only saying it is not worth spending my life pretending their bad choices were mine or that mine were theirs. When we take emotional revenge on a partner who cheated, for example, then we also damage our own well-being by invalidating any part of the relationship that was good. The good memories happened. Why would we be so quick to destroy them yet still cling to the bad? We are clinging to the bad, of course, by taking revenge on the good.

I am happy for the happy parts of my past relationships. I would not want to lose those parts of my life and secretly or publicly hold onto the bad parts. It is foolish to pretend part of my life did not happen just as it would be foolish to pretend there is no scar on my left hand from when I cut it when I was twelve. Everyone can see the scar, even if I deny it. The scar is part of my past, part of my story, and part of what makes me who I am today, even though I regret that moment! Our emotional scars are the same way. People see them even if we pretend they never happened. We just look silly for pretending.

Of course, I understand the need for catharsis when we have been emotionally wounded, but I would rather find that in a positive, healthful way, like therapy or exercise or writing my feelings out or just taking time out of my life to sort through those feelings and heal for a while.

I can understand keeping your past out of sight as a matter of being respectful of both your ex and your current partner, but we do not yet live long enough, I think, to delete years of our lives because we are pouting.


Today’s lesson: Emotional pain works like physical pain. When you are hurt, take time to heal and when you are better, move forward. Do not, though, take revenge on your own past and spend the rest of your life living there while pretending you are not. It is okay to acknowledge both happy and bad times in your life. As humans that did not come with instructions, we all have happy, sad, and bad times. Until we can live forever… we do not live long enough to live bitter.