The reason for having a resolved past: The fate of boatmen, who help and pay for it

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She was suffering. The way he left her was ugly.

She curled into my arms. Whatever she was missing, I gave to her. Whatever he did not have, I was particular about. I fell in love so that I could save her and myself – from loneliness.

I was so happy. So useful. So full of life, sacrifice, shared plans.

— Fast forward

Where did I go wrong? Why did she just tell me one day that she met someone else? How can she say that she loves him and never loved me? After all, we were so happy…

How to right the wrong? How to bring back the good? How to understand it all?

The more we cannot find the exact answer in the people around us, the surer we must be that it is within us; even in this horrible case, which is the regular fate of boatmen.

The boatman is a person that takes another person from one shore to the other. He or she speeds up the person’s transfer across the river, which would otherwise take longer and would take a lot of energy. In a relationship, this is the way we move others through our own effort from sadness to happiness. From helplessness to a journey. From a negative past to a positive future. And just like boatmen on the rivers, we end up alone on our boat – as soon as the passenger gets off on the other bank. Being a boatman is the hardest job in the world. It is not the customer who pays for the service, but the boatman himself: with his or her health, broken heart and broken trust in people, in relationships.

Boatmen curse the heavens. They believe that in exchange for the kindness they showed to others, they received only bitterness. As if it was pulled out of others for so long that it stayed in them and spoiled. Boatmen almost always ask what good actually came of it. There’s something positive in everything – even if somebody makes a boatman out of you: that you start being careful not to make the same mistake again.

Ferrying is the punishment for those, who are quick to enter into a relationship with somebody with an unresolved past relationship. The person is not a partner as soon as his or her heart is elsewhere or only half-way to you. If, at this moment, he or she is pushed into the position of a partner – perhaps because of weakness, a desire to forget, their own bad intention to hurt you – the person is not doing the right thing. He or she is dragged from the door leading to the past, and has not had the time to close it yet. Yes, the door has remained open. And if, at the same time, we open the door to the future, dear physicists, what happens? A draught. The past starts flowing into the future, into every day we experience. Perhaps even without the other person wanting, memories of the prior relationship keep coming back; you can feel it from the dark words, an absent look, a hug that is cold and depersonalised. Even if he or she would want to do the right thing with us in the relationship, it will not be done correctly. Because the only right thing that the person has to do is to ask us for some time, so that he or she can let go and run to slam the old door shut.

Doing the right thing is always more important than doing things the right way. Let’s realise that people in our relationship with their heart in the past do not have to kiss the right way, hug the right way, experience weekends together the right way. They especially need to escape from whatever has hurt them. To heal the wound. It takes time. You cannot pretend that there is no wound in the heart, when there actually is. It is possible to cheer the injured person up for a moment, but not forever because the unhealed wound still hurts. And even if we cannot see the actual wound, there is a scar. Scarring does not have to be visible, but it is extremely itchy. This way the wound closes forever, but scarring needs time as well. It is worth the wait. It is the final scar that will always remind our partner of how badly someone treated him or her, and will never want to repeat it with respect to us or others. And, most importantly, he or she will appreciate our support – he or she had time to figure out the past. No pressure. No regrets. No dragging.

If we are concerned about somebody close, who is suffering because of the past, yes – stand by them, support them. But let’s not lift them, unless they ask, let’s not lead them down a different road. Let them kneel, cry it out, swear if they need it. Let them throw away everything that is bad, anything that the previous relationship left inside. Let’s not bottle them up; rather, let’s be close. Let’s keep our hand ready. To hold them up if they fall. To hug them when they feel lonely. To use the hand to answer the phone when they call. They have to know that we are here for them. But only if they want it.

The last sentence is key. Even their step toward us must be a choice. It is good for them to know about this option, but they must take the steps alone. Otherwise, they start to feel imprisoned. And people escape from prison. At the first possible opportunity. To the first person.

I know very well what boatmen experience. When we hurt a dog, it can lose trust in people. When we hurt a human being, he or she can lose much more – trust in love. However, love never fails; it is always a person that fails. Betrayal in love is just like a broken limb. We can heal it, but it still hurts when the weather is bad. That is the time when we are more prone to blame ourselves for the past, look for faults in ourselves or others, and remain alone because we feel that it will be the easiest solution. If a person only has one’s self and fails, there is no break-up – or so it seems. It is an illusion. We need others. That is why we have mouths – to talk with somebody else. Ears – to listen to somebody else. Arms – to hug somebody else. We alone cannot fully hug ourselves. And, most importantly, we have eyes, memory and a heart: to see, to remember, and never experience such disappointment.

People also like to believe that somebody from the outside/above will save them. No. Nobody will make us happier than we ourselves alone. If we need a medical examination to perform certain jobs, then entering into a relationship should be under the condition of undergoing a heart examination – whether the heart is hiding any remnants of the past. Whether the person is free from previous relationships to such an extent that he or she can enter into a new one. Unfortunately, medicine has not progressed that far yet. Therefore, if we are entering into a relationship with a person, who has had a difficult relationship, we must demand and believe that his or her past is resolved. And his or her responsibility is not to lie to us, because then we just take the position of a boatman, who is dumped into the middle of the river and leaves the other to comfortably row to the opposite bank. I consider not having a closed past and making a boatman out of a person the worst case of emotional murder. To the person that came to his or her aid.

If you are currently experiencing ferrying and the person to whom you have entrusted your heart has run away with it and you feel empty inside, then my six recommendations below are addressed to you.

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