Don’t fear, Jackie is here!

Welcome to Aquí, Between Us, a bi-weekly advice column created for your mental wealth. Yes, you read that correctly. FIERCE’s new resident columnist and bilingual licensed therapist Jackie Garcia is here to answer your questions about navigating life with compassion, joy, and healing. This column was created to address the intricacies of living as Latinx, and most importantly, to give a lending ear, validation, and resources to those of us in need.

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In this week’s installment, Jackie answers the following question from a reader:

Q: Do you think you can date while still working on yourself? Or should you be healed first?

Maybe you’ve come across this question before and perhaps have carried a narrative that you must be fully healed before you get into a new relationship. 

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of giving you my best answer to this question. I would like for you to pause and think of a special moment you experienced in your life. 

Now that you have gathered memories of that special moment, I would like for you to acknowledge who was there with you? Who was part of this special moment? Your best friend? Your ex-partner? Your current partner? Your chosen family? Your biological family? 

Humans are hard-wired for closeness, belonging, and connection. Part of the human experience means building and maintaining interpersonal relationships. As humans, the relationships we form with others play a major role in who we are becoming while navigating our path of healing. 

For those folx who are in their path of healing and are wondering, “Do I need to love myself and heal first before I can love someone else?” I FEEL YOU. Sometimes, it’s difficult to grasp the idea that you can be in a healthy relationship AND be on your healing journey at the same time. However, just like some relationships have been the root of your emotional pain and suffering, healthy relationships can also have a unique way of helping you heal within. 

You don’t have to exclude yourself from the dating scene to thrive and heal. You can work on yourself AND be open to finding a healthy, secure partner. 

Let’s talk about what may have gotten you here in the first place. I want to acknowledge those individuals that are constantly showing up and doing the work for their well-being. Whether you are healing from a toxic relationship, to healing from a mother-wound or father-wound, to healing from childhood or adolescent trauma. I want to commend you for building awareness and doing the best you can to heal from your past. 

Trauma can exist in many forms. Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what you experience within the mind and the body as a result of what happens to you. What may be a traumatic experience for one individual may not be traumatic for another. 

Relationship trauma may result from abusive behavior, such as psychological, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse endured during a relationship. This type of trauma can occur between intimate relationships, including mother-child relationship, father-child relationship, work relationships, and friendships. 

The impact of relationship trauma can have a long-lasting effect on your psychological, mental, and emotional well-being. 

If you have experienced relationship trauma and you are feeling hesitant about starting a new relationship. It is important to break the vicious cycle and work alongside a mental health professional to identify emotional triggers, explore history of trauma, process feelings, learn about your attachment style, and heal from other unhealthy patterns that may significantly impair your social and interpersonal functioning. 

Cultivating healthy relationships is key for your healing. You can work on your mental health and build a healthy relationship. You can embark on your inner healing journey and allow yourself to receive love from those around you. 

Sending you all my best wishes on your healing journey.

Very best,

Jacqueline Garcia, LCSW, @therapylux