Once you commit to life - that means not killing yourself, not hurting yourself intentionally because you believe you are designed to suffer - you can open to the possibility that you are here to heal. You can learn to look at pain as your portal to a brighter future.
Emotional wounds from the past remain in the inner world, long after a situation has passed. Healing those wounds becomes a living process, when you learn to look at the present as a message, clues to help you face what lies within.
Often, we can’t understand a situation or relationship dynamic from the past until a reminder or mirror of it presents itself in our present life.
For example: You were told (nonverbally or verbally) by your parents that you were broken, a bad kid, not good enough, dysfunctional. Your needs were ignored. And then, decades later, you find yourself in a relationship where your partner communicates a similar message to you on a daily basis. All of a sudden, you start treating them like your mother or father. Shrinks call this transference.
We are the carpenters of our own crosses.
You could get meta, and go out on a limb, and say that you placed yourself in this relationship to force you to address your relationship with your family.
Or you can be a victim. You can look at life as a random series of events occurring at random; that all this bad stuff is happening to you, because you are bad and dysfunctional and you don't deserve better. Or you can view the life you've made for yourself as a product of your attitudes, thoughts, and actions. Then you can view this yucky, unsatisfying situation as a challenge to help you rebirth your identity and learn crucial life lessons.
Self-esteem is what helps you take responsibility for the outcome of your life. Self esteem is what compels you to create situations for yourself that are safe, comfortable and satisfying, reflective of who you want to be, with people who treat you how you want to be treated.
You may not remember an exact moment when your parents' screamed at you that you were broken, bad, and dysfunctional. You may have been too young. However, the effect of those messages is that you have low self-esteem. You place yourself in situations that confirm you are broken, bad, and doomed to fail, because that's how you view yourself.
You heal all this by choosing a different reality. The situation can change as soon as you as want it to. You can create a different identity for yourself, once you recognize and address the presence of the original wound. You can break up with your partner. You can try to communicate what you feel and see if they respect it. Or you can accept the situation for what it is and learn to cope - knowing your feelings are ultimately up to you, regardless of how others naturally influence them.
When you see life as a mirror, you know you have options.
Image: The Mirror (Reflection) by Charles Blackman