Some of this wisdom I learned from improv coaches and friendships. Some wisdom I've learned from counseling and therapy. But a great deal of wisdom I've learned from moving on from failed relationships.
I truly believe that we all have an Achilles heel (or two of three) -- fears or areas that we came to work on and let go. Mine has been a pattern where I choose men or relationships that aren't right for me or are harmful to me. It has also been also been learning boundaries and self-love.
I'm not sure which came first -- boundaries and self-love then the relationship issues or vise-versa, and I'm not sure it matters. What I do know is what I've learned.
1) An improv coach, Bob Wood once said: "People are contradictory. Your best friend can stab you in the back and your worst enemy can pull you out of the fire." He was telling us to address it on stage. People have depth, motivations, monsters, and their own piles of shit. I've learned that I can't ask people to be automotons to my own whims or desires. There is no white shiny knight to show up and rescue me. It is my job to be a self-rescuing princess. And along the way- I might meet champions or helpers who can assist when I truly need help.
2) There is always help when I truly need it. I've watched over and over as my friends and I have needed help and someone is always there. It usually isn't who I thought it would be. Often it is someone unexpected and delightful. I've made new friends and I've learned quiet strengths about people. As I've learned to let go of the idea that I must control every outcome and have a little faith -- it is easier and easier to realize that people will show up when I need them. And I've also learned to let go of the idea that sometimes certain people won't or cannot.
3) I've learned not to financially imbed myself with people in order to romantically link myself with them. I've learned not to count on a anyone to "save me," give me healthcare, make rent or living expenses cheaper, or in any way make my life easier. I've learned not to borrow against my 401k to pay for anything (for example a wedding I didn't want to please my lover who would later divorce me and leave me with debt and bankruptcy). I've learned not to move a partner's credit card debt to my credit cards because I was better with money. If they have financial problems, I've learned to let them deal with it. I cannot fix people, not their spending, not their attitudes about money. I've learned that people who use people, lie, cheat, steal will also use me, no matter how in love with them I am and no matter how much they profess to love me.
4) Abusive behavior escalates no matter how much you love that person and no matter how much you think it was "a first time."
5) The more I got used to abuse from one person, (name calling or being screamed at) the more I learned I could tolerate it from other people. I even had a boss at a university job where I was a library director scream at me so hard in front of his colleague in a meeting that he spit on me. I didn't quit that day. It took me three days to quit because I had to keep telling myself it wasn't normal.
6) I can heal from all the abuse of the past but in order to do so, I had to stop the current abusive situations around me. It started with self-love and boundaries. They go hand in hand. Small things like self-talk (saying nice things instead of mean things to myself), doing kind things for me (even napping or taking baths instead of showers are kind if that's what I want). And learning that I have a right to know and say what I want.
7) When people betray me or hurt me I am allowed to put my metaphorical foot up their ass. I don't have to be a "nice girl" any more. I'm allowed to tell them to shove off. I'm learning more and more to do so with less vehemence and a little more decorum -- but anything was a good start. And I'm learning that I don't have to surround myself with those people. I'm allowed to let people go. In the past I had a "fear of abandonment." Now I see letting people go as a way of letting new people in.
8) I'm allowed to accept apologies and also apologize for things -- but not do it as a way to manipulate or be manipulated. Saying "sorry" only works if the behavior stops. Also- if someone doesn't accept my apology - it isn't my problem. It is theirs. I can rest free that they have their own demons and carry on.
9) Hurt people hurt people. I've done it and I've had it done to me. I'm learning more and more to stop the escalation of pain that I put out and walk away from the pain people throw at me.
10) Progress, not perfection. Sometimes I will say mean things to or about myself. Sometimes I will say mean things to people, complain when I'm tired, or forget to have gratitude. Sometimes my day blows sideways and I feel like complete shit instead of happy pants. I look for a re-set and remind myself that every day is progress, not perfection. I'm a self-rescuing princess. No one will show up to do this for me. People will cheer me from the sidelines and occasionally when I ask for help people will be there. But this is my journey and I've got, even if my steps back make my journey look like a cha-cha instead of a forward-march.