How do we let people who hurt us back into our lives?

Letting someone who hurt you back into your life is one of the hardest, most underestimated acts of bravery someone can make. In my opinion anyway. When you’ve been broken by someone else, when another person has torn you apart into so many pieces you didn’t think it was humanly possible to put them all back together, allowing them close enough that they could do that again is paralyzing to say the least.

I mean, it’s the basis of any heartwarming estranged parent/child scene in any movie or TV show. It’s what had everyone up in arms when Ross and Rachel tried to work things out after their break. It’s at the heart of millions of our favorite stories. But what happens when it isn’t a story anymore? What happens when it’s real life and it was your heart that way broken, my heart that was broken? Is it even possible to get past that, to be okay again, to trust again?

8 months ago, I felt like my still-beating heart was ripped out of my chest. I had a constant knife in my belly, an incessant ringing in my head. I was destroyed by a love that was not ready for me. But now…now she wants back in and even more terrifyingly,  want her back in. I want another chance for us to have the relationship I always knew we could have if only we were ready. Now, she claims she’s ready. Now, I think I am ready.

But how do I get through all of the horrible things I went through the first time around? How do I learn to trust that the bad things are different now; that when she tells me something, she’s telling me the truth; that when she expresses her feelings to me she’s being honest; that she won’t be angry with me every time I experience anxiety that’s somehow related to her? How do I trust that she will treat me better this time?

Letting someone back in sounds so easy. Forgive and forget, that’s how the story is supposed to go right? If I choose to forgive, that means I have to forget right? If I choose to forgive, that means I don’t have a right to be afraid of old habits dying hard with her right? Or at least, I don’t have the right to vocalize that?

The thing that gets me, the thing that always gets everyone, is the fear. Fear will get you every time. Fear that our beating hearts will be beating in someone else’s hands instead of inside our own chests. Fear that we did this to ourselves. Fear that we may be playing with fire again, and we very well may be burned, again. Fear that the second we let our guard down, the kill shot will be ordered and we will be left defenseless.

But that’s the thing isn’t it? If we give in to fear we lose and if we don’t, we might still lose. I guess we have to choose which odds we like and if the risk is worth the fight. I am still not sure if the odds are in my favor but I don’t know that that matters when it comes to situations like these. I don’t think the odds are ever in our favor once our hearts get involved.

And I guess that’s ultimately how we get past the past. That is how we let someone back into our lives even after they hurt us. Because no matter what the odds are never in our favor when it comes to love. No matter what we do, we have a higher chance of losing than we ever do of winning. So in the end, why not just take the chance? If the odds aren’t great either way, we have to choose the path that could possibly even have the teeniest, tiniest chance of letting us win.

So we let them back in. We let them back in on the off chance that our hearts remain beating in our chests and end up just a little bit fuller than they were before.

How do we let people who hurt us back into our lives?