Breaking the Cycle of Broken Relationships
The workshop I delivered on inner healing and forgiveness seemed to be very effective. Several participants stayed afterward to chat further about the injuries they sought to release. Then, as these things often transpire, several of us went to dinner where the discussion only deepened further.
When the evening was over, and after hugs went all round, I offered a final thought to one woman. I was not sure exactly how Siona had been harmed as a child, but I encouraged her to work deeply and to be in touch.
A month later, Siona sent me a note. It included the following.
“I have been sitting with some feelings lately that always seem to come this time of the year. There was lots of dysfunction in my house when we were little and that followed me into my first marriage. It’s a long and complicated story, but that marriage ended. Later I was married again but Wayne loved me enough to not try to change me. Unfortunately, it also meant he had to leave me.
I swore off relationships after that. The pain was much too great for me to ever bear again, but of course I kept getting into bad relationships that I thought were good or I could fix.
Last year a guy at work dazzled me with his affections. I fell for it. And now I’m suffering again.
What is wrong with me?”
My heart broke for Siona. It is an all too common story. The only good news I had was that I understood her dynamic.
For all those who have similar experiences, I offer the following thoughts which paraphrase my response to Siona.
You are not alone.
As children and growing up, some of us were neglected, abandoned, betrayed or in some way abused. It feels familiar to us. And that feeling is a point of trauma, or injury that is held by the old ideas that formed with it. For example, if I can just be good enough, then they will love me.
In a thousand little ways we were not nurtured, or for unknown reason the nurturing was not received.
Then someone comes along and seems to finally nurture us. All those deprived receptors in the brain that did not receive nurturance chemicals start wanting more. And the craving for more puts us back on a slippery slope of looking for nurturance from someone, which we misguidedly call love.
Of course, since we usually find someone who feels familiar to us based on that early life experience, we pick them not knowing they will just neglect us again. Despite this, the receptors in the brain keep seeking even though we do not receive what we desire.
So we are in and out, and in and out, and in and out, unable to get what we need, and simultaneously unable to stop. It's an addictive process.
You surely wonder how to break the cycle. It’s so important to see the pattern clearly, and for many of us that requires a great deal of introspection and exploration. We can’t be healed without seeing the injury, which is not a pleasant experience.
We’re going have to engage the feelings. We’re going to learn to explore them, to breathe with them, to cuddle up to them. And we may need professional help if they are too painful. Generally it’s referred to as trauma work. And one expert in the field says we’ll need that assistance, though no one can do our healing work for us. I must do it for myself, but I need not do it alone.
You are not alone in this. There are others around you. And there are solutions. But it will feel uncomfortable. Of course, being in the dance with an unavailable person is also uncomfortable, right? So we must go more deeply into healing work.
I’m so sorry for your heartache.
Just for the record, here’s what Siona said in response. “Wow! Just reading that sent sparks all over my brain…yes, yes and yes. It sucks, but I do want to heal. I am going to print this and reread it and feel the feelings and breath through it. It seems so unfair, but I need to be kinder to my heart. I have to say I’m just going to have to do this. I’m tired. But thank you for this. It makes a lot of sense.”
We get what we get. What we do with it makes all the difference.
Seeing True™ in Action
The keys to tackling inner challenges are woven into the story. Can you see the pattern? Do you understand it? Who are those who can assist you? Are you willing?