I was with my husband for almost 30 years and since ending our marriage, I have been through a huge period of growth, learning, reflection and self realisation. Added to that my training, study and a specialisation in relationships, human behaviour and the games that people play- I have put together a post that I know will bring awareness to a lot of people.
The common longterm relationships fall into one of the below categories:
- Mostly happy and successful. Two people who have worked hard on themselves and the relationship. I was in this category for a really long time.
- Then there are the one’s who have settled. Either one or both are not fully happy or satisfied but do not have the courage to have the difficult conversations. Staying in the relationship for kids, finances or fear of judgement from family and society (all very noble but ultimately this will lead you to bitterness, resentment and choices/decisions that cause yourself and others pain). Then I fell into this category.
- Finally you have the one’s who after trying to work on things and grow within the relationship, find that the environment is no longer conducive for longterm growth and happiness. A realisation that a deeply honest conversation is required and a parting of ways takes place. Finally I ended up here.
It is well known psychological theory that what is unconscious will continue to permeate our lives until it is conscious.
This sentiment was first expressed by psychology pioneers Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. A sentiment that is now validated via emerging research in the fields of interpersonal neurobiology, attachment theory, intergenerational trauma, and epigenetics.
It was Freud, in all his flaws and faults, who was the one who coined the term “repetition compulsion”. This concept represents the idea that we will continue to replay what is internally unreconcilable, unresolved, and repressed until we are able to acknowledge and understand these wounds- do the deep work and heal them.
This means that we will continue to press play on our past until our present moment offers us an experience of peace. We will continue to seek out situations, people, places, and relationships that offer us the healing and the holding that our heart needs to unburden from the hurt inflicted years ago. Our subconscious wounds and energy at the time attract us to others who we expect to externally heal us internally.
I don’t need psychological theory from Jung or Freud, or data from emerging fields of research to feel confident in this concept. I also don’t need the volume of case-studies I have read, the study on human behaviour and relationships and my knowledge of many relationships to appreciate the full breadth of what depth psychology put forward decades ago.
What was put forward decades ago, when distilled in sentiment, is the knowledge that trauma lives within the marrow of our bones and being. That suffering resides within our flesh and continues to alter our lived experience until resolved. Our body and brain adapt after adverse moments of pain in such a way that both are pursuing release.
People try and solve the wounds of their younger self through adult partnerships by partnering with people who at the time fill the void. The partnership oftentimes becomes a need, an attachment and in far too many cases isn’t the partnership they would have been drawn to, had they done their inner work and began a process of healing and growth prior to partnering up. Usually this is because we predominantly partner up at a young age.
People never enter one of these romantic relationships consciously, we unconsciously pursue our partners seeking real love, adornment, and relational repair with them. But here’s the thing our partner cannot nor is it their responsibility to repair or heal us. Sadly it’s our younger selves- completely unaware of our wounds or what needs to be healed attracting a partner that seems to fit us perfectly at the time. Some never develop the self-awareness required to go within and heal and remain in relationships that if they are completely honest are not exactly what they want. Or they find themselves on the “positive vibes only-self enlightenment train”-completely by-passing the inner work that needs to be done.
Freud would say that our unconscious find people who are of similar makeup to what we are so desperately in need of at that time. Sometimes it’s someone with certain similarities to a parent that even though we may love- has inadvertently wounded us.
Neuroscience would say that our central nervous system and the mirror neurons within our prefrontal cortex have become hardwired and patterned to seek out what was already known. Therefore, our past experiences of whatever has caused us wounds within our body would be biologically driving us to partner with people who had central nervous systems that mirrored the physiological and neurological makeup of those who first wounded us. If one of those central nervous systems, that mirrored our original wounds could offer us love, the wounds of our childhood would consequentially be healed.
Although this sounds simple, straightforward, and sweet, if we follow the impulse of the unconscious or central nervous system, all we will do is have another experience of pain that mirrors the the wounds of our younger selves.
This is why awareness is absolutely essential when we are embarking on the journey of creating a new type of love. This creation requires healing wounds created when we were young.
We all have wounds. Some are just bigger than others. But every human has them.
When we are on this path, it is necessary, to look ruthlessly into our adult romantic relationship dynamics. For when we are honest with ourselves about what we have participated in, we are presented the chance to change. When we are honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, we have the opportunity for that to come into our lives. And when we are honest with our partners and can have open, truthful and sometimes difficult conversations we offer the most authentic version of ourselves.
Not sure what I mean? I’ll share some examples.
When I read case studies, speak with clients and fellow student therapists-the below list of dysfunction occurs when one or both partners are carrying wounds.
Partnerships that include addiction.
Excessive jealousy and control.
Trust issues. Secrets. Deceit.
Partnerships where independence is an issue. Instead of being two independent individuals your identity is lost in coupledom. May seem romantic but it’s incredibly unhealthy.
Nonconsensual sex in intimate partnership.
When we become self aware enough to want to face the darkness we start to unravel what it is we truly want. This can be a difficult and painful awakening when we come to the stark realisation that we have possibly outgrown our relationship because we were never whole when we entered into it.
Relationships are not about date nights. They are not about gifts. They are not about seeking external validation through social media. They are not about material items. These are all lovely but long lasting relationships are about honesty. They are about difficult conversations. They are about doing the bloody hard inner work on yourself to ensure you are in the relationships for all the right reasons. And they are about falling on your sword if you do f*ck up and deciding what comes next.
It’s about finding the peace, love and happiness within yourself that you are seeking via partnership. We need to be completely whole alone before we ever fall into a relationship.
The uncomfortable truth is that until we acknowledge the pain of our childhoods, the realm of romantic relationships will continue to be a domain of pain. And whilst we continue to deny the wounds, distract ourselves, mask the truth and by-pass the darkness we will forever find ourselves searching for something external. Most of us don’t set out to hurt another, I certainly didn’t nor did my husband but I found hanging onto something I should have let go of- ultimately caused far more pain.
Speaking my truth, walking away, healing and being the completely whole woman that I am today was the most courageous thing I ever did. Going deep within and really meeting those wounds and that darkness head on is not for the faint hearted but it was well worth it. And whilst I remain on my journey, forever learning and growing- I found peace.