Moving On vs Moving Forward

People are so quick to say I’m stubborn when it comes to the wording used towards those who are in pain, that I am super defensive for no reason. But there is a reason – I’ve been on the receiving end of hurtful words, and had my intentions questioned too many times in my life not to be instinctively defensive. I’ve also been the one to say hurtful things due to my own pain, so I understand where some of it may come from. I won’t cut them off at the first opportunity and take away an opportunity for them to take accountability. And I don’t always defend right away because I don’t want to jump to conclusions about what is truly happening for another person. And I don’t always think that what is comforting to me is going to be comforting for another person. But leaving someone without anywhere to turn for comfort is never okay, in my opinion. Which is why I always aim to ask instead of assuming. It isn’t me attempting to aggressively question anyones motives. It is my way of trying to ascertain what it is someone may need without jumping to provide a solution that may be more harmful than helpful. There are certain motivational phrases and quotes that I find motivating, and others that I find discouraging or disingenuous. And what I find motivating and encouraging others might find discouraging or disingenuous based on their personal values and upbringing. Forcing someone else to live by your own is manipulative and abusive.

This past week, I was contemplating on why certain phrases people said to me after a really bad breakup weren’t helpful even though I know they may have meant well when they said them. There was no one asking what I wanted, what I needed that would make me feel better. They assumed I was fine. And the impact of some of these phrases are so subtle in their differentiation that it’s understandable. That doesn’t make the impact any less painful or traumatic. Most of the “support” I received was just validating my worst fears and preyed on my insecurities.

One phrase that has bothered me for years, and still does to this day is when someone says to move on after a painful experience. It comes across as dismissive, and invalidates that someone is still in any emotional distress. In my opinion it also seems to demand that you are able to immediately process your feelings, come to a conclusion and go on with life as it was before. And that just isn’t realistic, especially if this phrase is said to someone dealing with trauma. I honestly think this phrase is said more to satisfy the one saying it, because they are uncomfortable seeing someone else in pain and don’t want to (or maybe can’t) reconcile with how much of that suffering they may be at fault for due to blindly following different harmful systems of oppression. That is their own shit to deal with and it isn’t fair to put that discomfort on someone else.

I’ve also seen several places online claim that the phrase, “Move on,” isn’t dismissive of pain or that the pain didn’t exist, just that someone or something isn’t worth the pain. And that still doesn’t resonate with me. Because it is saying someone only has worth if they never ever cause anyone pain at all. And that also is not realistic. It comes off a little delusional to expect to go an entire lifetime without any painful experiences at all ever.

Block of text that quotes: sometimes we don't really let go. we don't really move on. we just learn how to cope with the loss. we learn how to smile when sad. learn how to laugh when broken. and adapt. survive. live. we carry on and hope for the best. that's what we do.

The fix to me is simple and so, so subtle: saying to move FORWARD instead of demanding someone move ON. Move forward comes across as much more compassionate, kind and caring. It acknowledges that someone is still hurting and in pain. But it also encourages them to process those feelings in a way that is less shameful, working on dealing with those hurt parts in pieces safely over time so that they are not overwhelmed and flooded with emotions. It doesn’t demand immediate answers or conclusions and allows for real inner peace and relational healing, in my experience. It also acknowledges that sometimes the things that caused their pain maybe weren’t entirely their fault. Maybe it was, but is shame really the only motivator we can use to get someone to take responsibility? That seems to be causing way more harm in our society and in our interpersonal relationships than I think we’re really ready to admit.

Midnight Thoughts

Thinking about how so many people (most I no longer talk to, some I barely do) honestly think we were ever really friends, yet they probably wouldn’t be able to name any of my siblings, my favorite color, my favorite movie, my favorite song, my favorite songwriter, my favorite artist, my favorite animal, my favorite food (cuisine and/or dish), etc.

And yet they still think they know me and what my beliefs/principles/values are. No. Absolutely not. They only know me when they’re trying to spiritually bypass over what I believe with what they believe. They only know me when its convenient for them to have me available to assist with their needs — physically, mentally and emotionally. But the second I need any of those things in return, where are these people? When I say my disability is making it harder for me to do things like physically travel, where are these people who claimed to care about me as a friend? Nowhere to be found. Or too busy, or someone else takes priority, or whatever other excuse. Get the eff out of here acting like you know and care about me. You don’t.

The worst part is these same people (cowards, honestly) won’t ever apologize for how they’ve ever abandoned and mistreated me — mentally, emotionally, and psychologically with their presupposed assumptions and unintended ableism (and favoritism). I wonder if these people even know what my disabilities actually are. It’s not like they’ve ever bothered to really get to know me…

As much as I dislike the phrase, “If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors,” it does seem applicable in some situations with certain people I’ve known throughout my life.

Also, anyone reading this may want to do some serious self reflection on how they treat (or ignore caring for) people – I may very well be talking about someone you know.

Some Reflections…

J texted me a few months ago, stating that my life was mess before I met him. What?!? My life wasn’t a mess until shortly before we broke up and I started exhibiting symptoms of C-PTSD.

…it is one thing to blame the other person for the problem and another to describe the impact of that behavior on you while recognizing that the problem may be partly you and your sensitivities. After all, it’s your perception that defines the other person’s behavior as a problem.

Managing Interpersonal Conflict by Louis B. Barnes and James P. Ware

Before meeting J, I was volunteering at [redacted], had just finished my first semester back at college with all A’s, and was starting to figure out how to make money with my previous blog.

He didn’t help with any of that. Teaching me to drive was the only helpful and beneficial thing he added to my life that I can recall. And even that was only because R wouldn’t be available to drive him on the carts at [redacted] anymore. His teaching me to drive was still to benefit him, not because he sincerely wanted to help me.

If he sincerely wanted to help me, why abandon me when I was at my lowest? That isn’t love. Telling someone to shut up when they inform you that you’ve done something hurtful to them is avoidance. It’s lack of accountability and responsibility. Yet, he acts like I am the one who is unwilling to communicate about the harm that’s occurred. I’m not unwilling to do any self-reflection. He is, apparently. He pretends there was no effect or no harm even when there definitely was.

I still have nightmares about it. I still have panic attacks. Not nearly as much as I used to before ever going to therapy, but it doesn’t go away. I can’t just pretend to be okay. Faking it until you make it is incredibly harmful, but that’s what he seems to want. I won’t do that. I can’t do that. It’s superficial and dishonors my nervous system. That isn’t okay.

Don’t mistake being numbed out to it for being healed from it. People mistake feeling emotions about something as not being healed when, in fact, it’s one of the biggest signs of healing.

Juno Counseling (Dr. Vassilia)

I just want him to do some goddamn self-reflection and take accountability for having done anything to cause me harm. And to stop telling me that I can’t talk about my own experiences.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

Anne Lamott

For some reason, he also thinks the judge agreed with him. About what, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know why he thinks he ever actually offered a legitimate apology. The judge even told him to his face that I was still waiting for an apology. And that my intentions behind my actions weren’t without purpose. The only agreement I made with the judge was that I don’t believe J will ever sincerely self-reflect and apologize for having hurt me. There are literally transcripts of what was actually said by everyone in the court room that day.

The only time I got any sort of apology, J later mocked me for wanting to believe it. He even confirmed it was only provided to try and get me to shut up. I will NOT shut up about his abusive behavior towards me. I’ve never told him to shut up about anything I may have done that he felt hurtful, but it’s okay for him to do it towards me.? No. I don’t think that’s fair. If he’s allowed to talk about how I may have possibly hurt him, then I am allowed to talk about the harm and hurt I have endured from him. And I will not just “move on and forget about it.” That isn’t how trauma works. It’s most certainly not how healing from trauma works.

Until someone takes the impact of your traumatic experiences and places them in their nervous system and their body, they have no right to tell you to move on. Taking the time to heal is brave.

Nate Postlethwait

I have always been willing to hear him out about how any of my actions may have been hurtful to him – he doesn’t share it. That’s on him. I’m not a mind reader. Disappearing from a relationship the way he did is hurtful. There has now been more research on why ghosting is so hurtful, and I hope they continue doing more research on that topic.

What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.

Brene Brown

What really hurts is that he didn’t completely disappear. Part of me wonders if he had actually disappeared (instead of returning every so often with another scolding about how I’m wrong for feeling and expressing any hurt by his actions or lack thereof) would I have been able to heal more by now? And what makes him think he ever has a right to tell someone else how to feel? Why does he think he has a right to tell me what I do or do not find hurtful? Why does he seem to believe he has a right to tell me how and when I should heal? It isn’t his pain. It’s not his trauma.

He has no right to tell me what I do or do not feel. He has no right to tell me when I am healed. He has no clue what I deal with internally on a daily basis and never really has. I can’t recall a single a conversation since we broke up where he has ever been really willing to listen and empathize with my perspective on anything. I also don’t understand what makes him think he knows more than my own therapist about what I do and don’t need to be able to heal. He doesn’t get to make those decisions for me or anyone else.

My Letter to You, A Year Later


The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is by Miguel Ruiz.

There seems to be a theme of writing letters to those who’ve hurt you in order to heal oneself. If you could say anything to people from your past who have hurt you, what would you say? The last letter I wrote to those who hurt me followed the four principles detailed below. I hope you and those involved in hurting anyone read it and take it to heart. Because I think these are all important points to remember as we live out our lives in the present moment each and every day.

The First Agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Breathing Underwater, Part One

After our first day of confined water dives and open water dive one, this is what I wrote about my experience with earning my PADI Open Water Diver Certification through Scuba Monkey Dive Center in Alachua, FL.

For three nights in a row, I spent hours in a classroom learning safety skills for Scuba diving. On the fourth day, the other students I shared that classroom with met our instructor out at Devil’s Den in Williston, FL to put those skills into practice.

Before we did anything else, we swam 20 laps in the pool. This was probably the most difficult skill next to mask clearing for me. (More on that later.) Once everyone finished up their laps in the pool, we went over to the deep end where we treaded water for 10 minutes. Our lovely instructor kept sharing how easy this skill was for him…as he stood on land watching his stopwatch. Mhm. To be fair, he did also share that he had to do this skill with his arms up the entire time when he first got open water certified. We didn’t have to do it like that, thankfully. It was nice to have an instructor we could joke around with and it made for a pleasant day of learning and fellowship.

Once we finished with the swimming and treading water, we got our BCD kits together. We were able to practice putting a BCD kit together in the classroom on our second night of class, so this wasn’t too difficult. The hardest part for me was lifting the thing – that sucker is heavy! It’s incredible that there is so much weight to put on, much of which is simply air. And that it doesn’t feel quite so heavy when you’re underwater. After we each managed to finished putting on our BCD kits, we went into the pool for some confined water diving skills.

Once of the first skills we learned was how to clear our masks when partially filled with water. I had a hell of a time with this. I finally figured out the problem when we went over to the spring for our open water dives, but I struggled a ton in the pool. We also learned how to clear our masks if they flooded and filled completely with water. This was a bit more difficult for me than clearing the mask if it was only partially flooded – but I was already having a hard time with that, so what else would you expect?

The next thing we learned was what to do if our regulator got knocked out of our mouths for whatever reason. (The regulator is what provides air from the tank on our backs for us to breathe underwater.) We did this skill twice, once finding our regulator after it’d been ‘knocked out’ of our mouths, and once without finding it which meant needing our secondary. (We simulated getting them knocked out by simply removing it – no one actually knocked it out.) We also simulated running out of air, or our buddy running out air and offering our secondary to them so that they could share our air by taking turns as the one in need of air and the one providing air.

We took a ten minute break after these couple of skills, and used the restroom if needed. After our short break, we went back into the pool and got on our fins. We practiced our buoyancy along the bottom of the shallow end of the pool, and swimming across the pool with our fins on. Swimming is a lot less strenuous when you’ve got some powerful fins on to help your move through the water! Once we’d done this, we swam across the bottom from one end of the pool to the other without our masks on. When we got to the opposite end of the pool from which we started, we cleared our masks as we learned to do earlier. Then we got out of the water for our next skill test.

We took our fins off and walked over to the deep end of the pool where we each entered the water one by one. We did this by putting our fins on while leaning on our buddy, then stepping straight into the water. Once in the water, we inflated our BCD’s and signaled okay to our instructor. Here we simply floated for a few minutes, controlling our buoyancy with the BCD inflated.

After this skill, we practiced taking our BCD kits off (while still in the water, in the deep end of the pool) and then putting it back on. We also practiced dropping our weights. After dropping our weights, we free dove down to retrieve them using our snorkel instead of our regulator. Once we’d finished retrieving our weights, we took apart and off our BCD kits, laid the air tanks on their sides and took a break for lunch.

Once everyone was finished with lunch, and our instructor switched out our tanks to new(ish) ones with more air we got with our buddies to put together our BCD kits, put them on, and walked over to the spring while carrying our mask, fins and snorkels. At the spring, we entered one by one since the only entry way is a single staircase that only allows one individual on it at a time (at least the wooden portion). Once we got to the platform at the end of the staircase, we put on our mask, fins and snorkel and entered the water. For the first couple of minutes, as we waited for everyone in our group to descend the staircase and enter the water we simply floated by filling our BCD up with air. Once everyone was in the water, we practiced two tired diver tows. This was simply towing our buddy by grabbing their tank as they laid on their back after checking they had sufficient air, and then resting their fins on our shoulders to push them through the water (as they were, again, laying on their backs.) Just like when we practiced sharing our air with our buddy in the pool, we took turns being the tired diver and the diver who was towing.

We then descended about five feet and practiced our buoyancy. This simply meant hovering in a particular area. After a few minutes of this, we descended a bit more and swam over to an underwater platform where we again practiced the regulator coming out of our mouth and clearing our masks (partially filled with water). At this point, I realized I was breathing out of my nose instead of my mouth, which kept causing my mask to partially fill with water every time I exhaled. So that’s why I kept having to clear my mask more than everyone else! I managed to solve the problem (for now) my plugging my nose as we swam through the water. We swam a little further and then practiced our buoyancy for another couple of minutes before finally ascending to the surface where our instructor decided to finally call it a day. We swam over to the platform we’d got on when we first descended the staircase and removed our mask, fins and snorkel before each ascending the staircase one by one.

The sun felt really good on our way back over to the picnic tables where we recorded the information from our first open water dive – the depth (24 ft), the time (25 minutes), our pressure group after finishing the dive (C), and other little notes such as the visibility, the temperature of both the air on land and the water we dived in. I also included the amount of weight I had on and the size/thickness of the wetsuit I had on. Our instructor said he was going to bring some hoods for a few of us the next day since we got a bit cold in the spring – guess who started shivering and was most noticeably cold towards the end of our dive? Sigh.

The original plan was to be doing much of these same skills again at Troy Springs the following day. The rest of my classmates were able to do that, but I’ll be making up the day sometime in July. My ears wouldn’t clear properly for me to do anything at Troy Springs and I’m not about to pop an eardrum simply because I rushed to get my certification. After July 3, however, I’ll be fully certified open water certified. I am so looking forward to new adventures that await me upon certification of this skill set (particularly this trip to Africa.) I am so, so glad I decided to do this, and super thankful that my instructor as well as the rest of this group was full of very patient, helpful, and encouraging new friends.