Let me warn you, this is going to be a long but good read. Gabriel Union would say, “We are gonna need another glass of wine.” Get your glass of whatever makes you happy and enjoy the longish read.
Old wounds have many ways of creeping into relationships. They can disrupt a connection, prevent a connection from reaching take-off, or slowly pull at a relationship until it’s gasping for air. Everyone is capable of having a connection that is loving and life-giving – a relationship that allows each person to be completely seen, stripped back to bare, pretences gone, flaws and vulnerabilities on full show. It’s beautiful, but it’s not easy, because this type of connection requires openness and vulnerability. The walls need to fall and the armour needs to soften.
Here’s the dilemma – let go of the armour and risk being hurt, but don’t let go of the armour and the relationship you deserve will struggle to find you.
Armour is the protective wrap we put around ourselves to stop the things that have hurt us before from ever hurting us again. It isn’t a bad thing – we all have it and we all need it – but the tougher and tighter the armour, the harder it is to connect, feel loved, and give love. You might feel the love, deeply and purely, put it just can’t get through the way it needs to.
The deepest wounds often come from childhood. They can affect the way people see the world, themselves and their relationships. They can shape the expectations people have of themselves and others, and what they think they deserve. They can also affect people on a physiological level – the way they carry themselves physically.
Of course, not all wounds come from childhood. Few of us reach adulthood without having had our hearts broken, our ideas about love questioned and our spirits bruised. It’s how we deal with this that will determine the power our history has to keep hurting us. In fact, by providing an opportunity for self-reflection, learning and experimentation, past hurts can be the gateway to stronger relationships – but this does take effort, a willingness to explore and the courage to experiment with a different way of being.
The capacity for that is in all of us. In the same way that with deliberate effort and practice we can expand our physical capabilities, we can also extend well past the self-enforced limits of our emotional edges.
When there is chronic fighting in a relationship, it’s likely that old wounds are feeding the battle. The existence and influence of old wounds will often be out of our awareness. We won’t know they’re there, but their effects will be obvious.
Old wounds set to work when something in the present moment triggers old memories that are attached to old hurts. When this happens, we react to the new situation as though it’s an old one. Talking of triggers! Don’t you think it’s prudent to tell your partner what triggers you?
Your vulnerabilities are beautiful. Don’t hide them.
There are parts of all of us that are so soft, tender and raw that the temptation is to hide them away for protection. They’re the things you think about at 2am, the feelings you feel that nobody knows about, your insecurities, your fears. They’re the fragile parts of you and it would make sense to hide them if you were in a harsh or unsupportive environment but now you’re in a different one. Let your partner see them – don’t cover them with anger, denial or pretence. This might feel risky and you might feel as though it’s easier and safer to keep your frayed edges protected, wrapped up and tucked away where nobody can see, but trust that whatever happens you can support yourself, vulnerabilities and all. You’re not the same person you were all those years ago. Open up, little by little. It doesn’t have to all be about self-disclosure. It might be in the way you relate, the way you touch, the loving words you offer, the softening of yourself around someone. It’s about being vulnerable, because you can’t have intimacy without it….but ma streets!!😅
Your wounds don’t have to wound you anymore. They’re the proof of your resilience, your strength and your courage and now they can work hard for you. First though, you’ll have to shine the light on them. Don’t keep them in the dark, otherwise you won’t see them coming when they crash into you. When you have an emotional reaction to your partner, what does this remind you of? What is your earliest memory of these feelings? You might need to sit with them for a while to let them speak to you. What about your partner? Who does he or she remind you of? Then – how are they different? Focusing on the differences will help you to stop seeing your partner or your relationship through an old filter.
All relationships will come into conflict now and then. When you’re with someone who loves you, there will be a ton of power that comes from being hurt. Use it wisely. We all get it wrong sometimes and we all do stupid things that hurt the people we love. When you’re the one who has been hurt, acknowledge it, discuss it, feel hurt or angry, but don’t use your hurt or anger as a way to keep the power or control in the relationship. Use it to feed a conversation and to find a better way to do things, but don’t use your hurt or anger to lift you to the saddle of your high horse. It can be pretty cold and lonely up there. That doesn’t mean you have to accept every bit of nonsense going around – you don’t. What it means is that not holding out on a resolution or fight dirty because of a sense of entitlement or ‘rightness’. The silent treatment, getting personal or nasty, or fiercely claiming victim status might feel good at the time, but it will sink your relationship in the long run. Righteous people can be hard work – you don’t want to be one of those.
Above all, consistency is a love language, do not let your partner guess. Be there fully everytime. I’m not an expert but I’m a girl who loves love stories.