A root cause of “relationship distress” is the “re-opening of a primary childhood wound.” This wound is related to the doubt we have all carried around, since childhood, about our inherent “lovability”. Although it is true, of course, that each of us has a different experience of being loved and cared for in childhood…. none of us ever gets that “perfect” love we long for. When someone hurts us again in a way we have been hurt before, we feel that hurt all over again. Each of us has very specific “triggers” that function as entry points to our own particular version of the “wound.” Clinical psychologist Dr. John Welford believes that the search for a “love” partner in life is all about finding a way to heal our original childhood wound. We are testing the strength of our “lovability” in the courtship process, as well as testing how well we can love our chosen partner. It is therefore a process of simultaneously giving and receiving as we risk “putting ourselves out there”
Dr. Welford also believes that, because our sense of being a complete and lovable self is so dependent on how others perceive us, we have mixed feelings about attaching ourselves to another too deeply. In our own minds there is always the possibility that we will be forced to change who we really are in order to be what we think our partners want us to be. The fear of “giving up” our power in this way can lead to carrying around resentment about dependency in close relationships. Our task is how to navigate this delicate tightrope of needing something so badly at the same time resenting and/or fearing this need. In addition to this, we may also be perpetually afraid that we won’t be able to hold onto what we have, once we have it. Is this not the very definition of vulnerability? What kind of skills do we need to help us with this crucial navigation task? To put it in another way…what state of consciousness do we need to adopt in order to walk the “tightrope” with ease and grace?
First…Remember That The Love You Seek Is Already Yours
At first glance, the concept of already having what you seek may seem counterintuitive. However, if you think of the concept of Love differently and see it as an absolute principle that operates in the world rather than a relative commodity that is traded back and forth and can be lost and found…. You will know that love is always there. You just have to see it and claim it. I knew a songwriter/philosopher once who wrote lyrics about absolute love that sum up what I mean beautifully. Tad’s words were as follows: “In the colors of the morning sky, in the face of just one passerby, a gift, a song, a way to be…. Love is waiting patiently. The message of this song, for me, is about the Omniscience of love. As Tad so poignantly states in his song, Love is everywhere!..It is waiting patiently for you to claim it for yourself. He also talks about the importance of “letting the love in” to your wounded heart. This speaks to the importance of cultivating an “open” heart and allowing love to heal what ails you.
Next…Consider The Possibility That Relationship Is The Path To Healing Your Original Childhood Wound
If you are starting from the place of knowing that you already have love in your life, then all of your important relationships are about sharing that love with another, and reminding each other of its existence. This would apply, I think, weather we are talking about your “life partner”, your child, or your best friend. Awareness of Love’s Omniscience is a consciousness shift, I think. That said, it is of course important to be cautious and protective of yourself in the beginning of a relationship. The love between you and this person needs to be solid and trustworthy, before you open yourself up too completely. Inevitably, though, because you are transparently revealing yourself to another, you will experience hurt. Something may be said that reminds you of an earlier experience in your child hood, your “guard” is down, and that old childhood cluster of wounds is “triggered”. At this point, according to Dr. Welford, you have a choice. Do you “act out” against the person who has inadvertently “pushed a button”? Do you become angry and defensive and try to hurt that person back? Or, do you choose to understand this “trigger point” as an important key to understanding yourself. If you chose the later option, you have given yourself and your partner a precious gift. Together you can investigate what “just happened”, and draw from that deep pool of absolute love to understand both yourself and your partner at a whole new level. The trick is to keep blame and criticism out of the conversation, which is of course the difficult part in a culture, which is so often so judgmental. Intimacy is, in my view, the antithesis of judgment and blame. It is about opening up your own narrow view of the world to incorporate the world view of another. This is why I see creating “heart centered” intimacy as a clear path to an awakened life. Without the judgment and blame of either yourself or others, You awaken to to who you and your” beloved” really are.
By Leslie Kays MFT