Together we can heal in our relationships. We find somebody, we fall in love. Boom we feel amazing! We're really feeling that this perfect person is going to complete us. This person is going to soothe what needs soothing and heal what needs healing. I am going to get from this person what I didn't get as a child. That's what falling in love means. That's the harmony phase. Love without knowledge.
Dark night of the soul
Disillusionment sets in says Terry Real when you realize that your partner "is exquisitely designed to stick a burning spear right into your eyeball." Disillusionment comes when you look at your partner, and cry, "Oh no! This is terrible! I think I've just made the biggest mistake of my life." This is the dark night of the soul. We feel crazy and upset. We must surely be in the worst relationship ever, but the good news is, we're not!
Gods to save us
We all long for the divine. We want gods or goddesses that will complete us. But the reality is that intimacy is about managing the collision of our imperfections without partner's imperfections. We all marry the next step of our own development. The very things we hate about our partners are the very areas where we may need to learn to soften and be kinder. We choose to be with someone who throws us back into our young wounds and the old drama comes to the fore.
The adaptive child part of us yells, "I'm going to get what I need from you. I'll try and control you! I'll scream at you! I'll punish and withdraw from you! I will use revenge, retaliation, or silence to get what I need from you."
The reality is, these never work. These losing strategies never get you more of what you want. On the contrary, they kill all intimacy and connection. The very things you so long for from your partner fall through your hands.
True healing comes when we can sit with what's coming up in us in those moments when we feel triggered by our partners. All our muscles are screaming to make the choices we always make: yell, stonewall, hurt, or humiliate! And we pause, we breathe before jumping into that familiar reaction. We become mindful. We remember love. We remember that the person we're talking to is not our enemy, but someone we care about.
At that moment of rupture, we take a breath and choose to respond lovingly. At that moment, when we do something different in our familiar pattern of communication, then our partners can reciprocate with something different and we can come together in a new way, and that new meeting is what's healing. We don't get healing from ourpartners; we get it from the relationship by first being mindful of what's coming up for me and then making a new move.
Healing past wounds
Thomas Hubl teaches that trauma is the postponing of painful experiences. The event was too overwhelming to manage at the time it happened. When we are in a distressing and triggering relationship, we experience feelings, emotions, body sensations, and thought patterns that refer to the past that is not integrated. That's why it's so important, to first pause and notice what's happening inside ourselves. Inside of us is where the emotions are that feel so painful. The only place where the trauma can be reintegrated and restored is in ourselves. This integration will allow us to become mature human beings who can open up new relational ways of being. Before us are now new options for our relationship that we couldn't see before.
In a triggered moment, the practice of presence infuses us with a choice of how we wish to respond. When we are contracted, and distanced, from our partners, we will always use our losing strategies and defensive patterns. When we practice grounding ourselves through prayer, meditation, movement, or contemplation we become accustomed to creating space so that we can see how to turn the usual trigger from our past into present-based consciousness. We change our usual knee-jerk reactive response into a more thought-out and informed response. And at that moment, options and possibilities to relate to each other become available to us in ways we never saw before.
The impact of Ed Tronick's work on adult relationships is that the ability to repair builds intimacy. When you know you can repair, you build a greater sense of trust. You trust that together you can try and work this out. You trust that your partner wants to work this out as much as you do.
When you feel stuck you now know that you have agency and the ability to change your feelings of helplessness in this relationship. You know you can safely go from feeling sad, angry, frustrated, and disconnected to feeling connected once more. Healing comes with the feeling of being fully received once again.
In order to be able to recover relationally, we need support in the form of teachers, and peers. Support groups, therapists, and coaches will help you step onto your path of relational recovery.
A new opportunity for your relationship is when you get to re-work your trauma and come out with a corrective emotional experience with one another. When your boundaries, be they physical, psychological, sexual, or emotional are respected and not violated then healing can happen.
True intimacy is the coming together of truth and love. When the giving of ourselves vulnerably is met with nonjudgment, compassion, kindness, and generosity it's a magical, healing, and very loving moment.