We wonder why true healthy love never comes or lasts, yet, we never really look at our role in quashing it. The mind starts working, and so the heart is muted.
For many, they live their whole lives navigating from a fragmented subconscious. Some even take pride in it, choosing to remain as static products of their upbringing and environments. After all, if you don’t reveal your truths, live cut open, and choose to invest your heart you never have to risk the dangers of hurt.
How You Pursue Love
We enter relationships with an end goal in sight; and so we test and control others, never allowing our partner or things to just unfold and be, and at their natural pace.
We calculate our feelings and match our commons presuming they’ll grant us a safety net that is bound to survive without acknowledging that nothing in life is guaranteed; everything has it ebbs and flows, just like your emotions. Actually, the only guarantee is that your partner WILL change, and so will YOU. If you expect to keep your relationships long-term, particularly a marriage, it’s not so much what you have in common that will propel you forward- but how you deal with your differences. It’s not so much about compatibility as it is about how you handle your incompatibilities. Like Alain De Botton has said in his NY Times top read article, Why You’ll Marry The Wrong Person, we forget that “compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.” So, regardless of how well we think we’ve chosen a compatible long-term partner that matches our (mostly subconscious) ideals, our probability of failing at our union and/or one or both partner’s walking out is still very high.
Nevertheless, all we care for is to “make sure” our person of choice is the “right one” without behaving like the right person ourselves.
Addressing Our Inner Child
Growing into a healthy love towards oneself and others- especially a life companion- and developing loving lasting relationships can solely happen when we address the ways in which childhood trauma impacts our lives. Many adults today are still unconsciously living through the lens of their inner child, which in most cases is a fearful broken one or a programmed one living subconsciously on automatic. For example, a parent figure rejected his/her child’s needs or walked out on a child at a young age, and thus, he/she block openness and intimacy (or dismiss their need altogether) due to fearing a repeat rejection or abandonment.
If you take the ACE (The Adverse Childhood Experiences) test, which assesses how childhood trauma can affect our mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, you’ll be shocked at how many “Yes’s” you and everyone else puts. Research itself proves it.
Our childhood experiences act as backbones throughout our lives, shaping our identities, determining our attachment style, bonding/intimacy abilities, and emotional responses to others. We suffer later in life due to our very parents and the homes we were raised in. Sometimes, we suffer for so long that we no longer feel. Numbness and avoidance become our nature, and we may even deem it normal.
Our childhood experiences also literally change our brain chemistry and neural pathways. We create limiting self-beliefs that eventually attract us to a person with the exact characteristics’ we were repulsed by in our parent’s. We may even become the very people we scorned ourselves. The minute problems arise, we do what we witnessed, we avoid and ignore the fact someone else is involved with us and/or selfishly run. We build up barriers against the genuine few that are here to offer us intimacy, love, and healthy relationships because we’re scared to be vulnerable. We’re scared of the unknown. We’re scared to fail and break. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we’re cross-plotting our life with fear as our boldest ink.
Unhealthy Attachments To Our Wounds & Support Groups
Many people do not heal and continue the cycles of dysfunctional relationships because the reality is it’s not enough to just confess your childhood to another person and claim you have X issues (attachment, commitment, avoidance, etc.). You need to move beyond the language of adhering to your wounds as your identity or thinking they’re shields or announcing them as indirect warnings for others to tread around you cautiously.
What’s even more alarming is how the exchange of our wounds has become some sort of relationship currency to determine our intimacy (look at the countless support groups of people where they only connect over their wounds from addiction, to abuse, etc.). It seems that our authority over our wounds gives us privileges in life that we’re not willing to let go of, such as letting others down because we think our excuses are valid due to our emotional state or history, controlling others by telling them their behaviors remind us of our parents, or avoiding common adult responsibilities. We never have to grow up if we choose to live as a wounded child. We can unconsciously or consciously choose to continue acting like the neglecting absent parents that brought us to this world; avoiding all entanglements and remaining concerned only with our wounds and false happiness.
While support groups do help, to truly heal you need to have an agenda. Healing shouldn’t last your lifetime, particularly when life will keep throwing at you more conundrum’s! You cannot hang around with people with your very same traumas (I know they’re your “true family when no one else was there” that you “need to stay loyal to”) thinking there are no others outside of your circle in this everyday world that will understand, fully accept, and make you feel like home. For one, that’s not true. Secondly, when that happens you live in your wounds without ever really healing and letting them go.
You actually have to be proactive about healing and this means working to get over your wounds and not simply marketing them! It also means not using your past (traumatic) stories as the sole mean to connect with others. At some point, you should have had enough support and decided to move on with your life. It’s the cycle of growth; you’re meant to outgrow people as you get older, especially if you’ve healed, this includes outgrowing your past and yourself.
While we think that by remaining loyal to that support group (and so the foundation of which is our wounds) we’re being compassionate and true to ourselves and others, it’s far from truth. We most probably are staying out of fear (I’ll address that in a bit!)
The Stages Of Healing
Healing requires a few stages:
- The decision to commit to the healing process
- Turning inwards to identify and self-reflect upon your wounds
- Putting your wounds into words; expression and talking is a must
- Addressing your wounds from a witness’s perspective in order to not give them unnecessary power
- Observing the effect of your wounds over yourself and others; do you use them control? Because no matter what you’ve gone through in your life it’s not a valid excuse to treat others unfairly or badly.
The six phase would be to confront the fear of healing. You may think you want to heal but did you ever question what’s stopping you? Are you afraid of losing your current friendship’s and intimate bonding’s through healing? Are you afraid that you’ll outgrow your comfort zone and live without the familiarities of today that give you false security? The fact is, one cannot heal, be healthy, or love when living in fear.
Once you address the questions pertaining to fears and healing, you then must practice gratitude. Start looking for and counting your blessings, it’s something you get better at with practice for what you focus on magnifies!
What if you can’t find your blessings? Then it may help to think of what you could lose. How many of us have given examples of “what could be worse” at the very moments we’re battling our own hardships? Growing up, I was always aware of a worse scenario, however, I failed to understand how reminding someone of a more detrimental state of comparison can help change their situation? The reality is, it doesn’t. It makes sense that when you’re trying to find the light and move ahead to think of happier thoughts, but I learned that what you’re trying to do is not to distract yourself from what is, instead, to find gratitude for what’s left. There’s always something left to be thankful for, no matter how grave the circumstances, an easy way to do this is to contemplate on how things could be worse.
Following having developed a conscious appreciative mind, you can then tackle the challenge of forgiveness. I have written on forgiveness several times here and here, but let’s relate it to the topic at hand; forgiveness may mean you need to contact your parents for a discussion of closure, and if you’re certain they will not be understanding and/or cooperative, then it’s helpful to simply accept and adapt by turning to a greater Source. Work on making your health foundation strong, work with a professional, and feed your faith; turn to God, the Universe, or whatever! Just be determined to discharge the baggage and stay steady on your journey to forgiveness. From there on, love is the answer to everything! Live in this moment only, and with full love, appreciation, and gratitude.
Just as Rumi once said, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”