I posted something today on my GoodTherapy FB page that felt really important. So, here I am turning it into a blog post, because... well it's important. Why is it important? Because relational safety is everything.
Every Single Person I'm lucky enough to speak with in my work carries the burden of early relational wounding.
This is a no-blame statement.
Humans seem to hurt each other all the time. Parents hurt their children. These same parents were also usually hurt children - and/or in circumstances that made it hard to give their children what they needed.
They then did their best to either heal their stuff or stuff down the hurts - usually it's an imperfect combination of both. Stuffing down generally results in hurting the people around us more; including ourselves as we self-medicate in all the ways that one can. How else can we bear these burdens? We can drink. We can isolate. We can become addicted to power. There are just as many ways that we can self-medicate as there are ways of getting hurt.
Genuine Connection Heals
What our hearts all yearn for is the sort of love that most of us missed out on, due to being born to our very imperfect parents, at this very imperfect time in history. Here's what it could feel like:
“The truth is — genuine connection is ease. It is peace. When you find it, you will know. You will feel seen, you will feel like you are being mirrored back to yourself, like you are discovering the shadow of your own heart in another human being.
Slowly, through loving the right people, you will come to realize that the human beings who are meant for you in this world will not exhaust you, or hollow you out, or leave you feeling like you are hard to love. Slowly, you will come to realize that you do not have to romanticize the things in this life that hurt. You do not have to run towards the fire. Love does not have to feel like a fight, does not have to feel like battle, does not have to wound.
Slowly, you will learn how to lay down your arms. How to walk away from those who will only ever love you in halves. Slowly, you will learn that you cannot love someone into loving you, or being ready, if they are not. You cannot love someone into their potential. You cannot close their hands around your heart if they are not willing to hold it themselves. You have to let them go. You have to focus on the people in your life who bring you back home to yourself. You have to focus on standing up for that kind of connection, on honoring that calm, because it exists. It exists.” — Bianca Sparacino [ Artist • Robin Isely ]
The pain of holding the tight / fearful / contracted inner positions that we had to develop to deal with the pain of all the childhood / teenage heartbreak simply becomes more and more painful to maintain as we age.
The pain of NOT letting the truth in, hurts us. To allow it is one of the ways we can offer ourselves this ease.
For a time, it was that the pain of letting the truth in that was the more painful piece. The burdens of maintaining a false version of self which was constructed so that might be protected from feeling the hurt. The very kindest thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to start to let it go. Through a turning towards a brave vulnerability with safe others, and also with ourselves.
Feeling this pain has the power to set us free. "Grief, unattended to, wreaks havoc in our lives"... so says my friend Dr Mark Brady. Turning that around therefore must mean that "Grief, attended to, allows integration and healing".
To everyone I have ever worked with - thank you for allowing me to share in your brave efforts to feel the many hurts there are for you to feel & heal from.
May we all continue to find the courage to open to our hurts and thereby truly come to know ourselves. Integration is where we get to love ourselves not by halves, but with full heartedness - just what we always wanted, all along. And by doing so we can then offer this to the precious others in our lives.
PS: I paused halfway through this writing to participate in a deeply personal Grief Experience today (8/8/2022).
By my request, a travelling friend visited my sisters grave in Cairns, Australia (I'm in NZ). I've never visited it. She died in 1983 when I was 14, she just 26. Opening my heart to that awful hurt with my friend, while she stood there at my sisters gravesite... it was hard & good. I feel cleansed, connected to myself and alive. That's what attending to grief can be like.
To preserve the memory of this, which feels so connected to what's written above, I am posting these photos below. My friend and I miraculously chose to wear the same necklace today. That was a really lovely coincidence.
Dear sister, I wish you'd never died. And my heart felt that very fully today. I allowed the pain. It just is. And allowing what is, is a great and powerful good.