The wind stopped blowing and the sky looks nice, but, if this is a hurricane, you may be passing through the eye of the storm. The earthquake has struck, but watch for aftershocks. You’ve had a minor stroke, but is a major one coming along? If your loved one did something to hurt you and you have assessed the damage, there is another thing to take into account. Is he still doing it?
Many damages go on wreaking havoc long after the precipitating event. They’re like ripples in a pond after a stone strikes. The compulsive gambler who put you both in hock may have created a situation that may take years, or decades, to pay off. The guy who broke your nose might ruin your chance for a modeling career long afterwards. The cruel and hurtful thing your parent said when you were young, tends to be a gift which keeps on giving. Therefore, if you’re assessing the damages, don’t forget to include, not only what you have already suffered, but what you are likely to suffer in the future. If you added up all the years of therapy you’ve needed so far, don’t forget to include all the years you will need before you’re done.
Eventually, most consequences of hurt will come to an end. The debt your gambler accrued may well be eventually paid off. Once you lose one modeling contract, there is seldom another. As a general rule, the first hurts we suffer are the longest lasting. Those cruel and hurtful things your parents said can continue to resonate long after you’ve forgotten what they were. They are built into your foundation and determine who you are.
The next thing to consider is whether the damages will go on because the precipitating events persist. Are stones still falling in your pond? If the compulsive gambler goes on gambling after you’ve restructured your debt, you’ll never get out from behind the eight ball. Don’t believe her when she says her next big win will pay it off. The guy who broke your nose may break it again, or worse. That behavior tends to escalate over time because, once you have broken your girlfriend’s nose, you’ll think you’ve got to do more to get her attention. If your elderly parent has verbally abused you all your life, she’s not likely to stop now, even as you visit her daily at the nursing home.
Therefore, before you finish with your list of damages, while you’re on a roll, make another list of future damages that are likely to occur if the behavior is in check.
Before I go on, I should stop and explain what I mean by in check. Many people believe the behavior is in check if the person goes into therapy. That’s not what I mean by in check. In check is when the behavior is stopped, permanently stopped, not stopped because people are looking, not stopped while he’s sleeping on the couch because he wants you to let him in the bed; not stopped because she went to rehab; I mean stopped for good. Therapy is just maybe the beginning of the checking procedure. Most problematic behavior persists after therapy is begun, and by most, I mean all. It doesn’t mean therapy ain’t working; it just means it takes time, it’s a process, and it hasn’t worked yet.
Some of these future damages may, perhaps, be ameliorated by something you can do. You might be able to insulate yourself from the effects of the persistent problematic behavior. That’s what separate bank accounts are for, that what separate bedrooms, separate houses, and separated spouses are for. That’s why people get divorced. That guy who broke your nose may go on breaking noses, but not yours, if you get an order of protection against him. That old mother who can’t stop talking shit about you may go on doing so, but you don’t have to visit her every day at the nursing home and hear it. That’s what I mean by insulating yourself.
I also mean another thing; there’s another way of insulating yourself from most of the emotional abuse that people can dish out. It’s called not letting them get into your head. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible if you are a mature, self assured adult, especially if you know who you are and don’t let others define you. It’s impossible if you’re a child and don’t possess the resource of a thick, thick skin.
Therefore, when you account for everything that was wrecked by the loved one who hurt and may well go on hurting you, take everything into account, both the injuries of the past and the projected ones of the future.