"If you are in a relationship, check
it out the next time you have a fight: Maybe you are both coming
out of your twelve-year-olds. If you are a parent, maybe the reason
you have a problem sometimes is because you are reacting to your six-year-old
child out of the six-year-old child within you. If you have a problem
with romantic relationships maybe it is because your fifteen-year-old is
picking your mates for you."
"If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth
was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding
appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the
"When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional
wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation
we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.
In order to start be-ing in the moment in a healthy,
age-appropriate way it is necessary to heal our "inner child." The
inner child we need to heal is actually our "inner children" who have been
running our lives because we have been unconsciously reacting to life out
of the emotional wounds and attitudes, the old tapes, of our childhoods."
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded
Souls by Robert Burney
The single biggest problem with most relationships is that there
are too many people involved. A romantic relationship is supposed
to be two people in partnership sharing of who they are, sharing their
hearts, minds, bodies, and souls with each other.
Anyone who has not done their emotional healing is bringing a plethora
of people into any relationship they get involved in. Some of these
people include: parents, siblings, relatives; ministers, teachers,
the junior high school bully; everyone that they have ever had a romantic
relationship with; the Prince and Princess of fairy tales, the lyrics of
songs, and the characters from books and movies. Just to think of
how many ghosts are in the room, when two unconscious people are interacting,
is mind boggling.
Anyone who is unconscious to how the people and events of their past
have shaped who they are today, is incapable of being present in the now
and having a healthy relationship. When we are reacting unconsciously
to the emotional wounds and old tapes from our childhoods, we are being
emotionally dishonest in the moment - we are mostly reacting to how we
felt in a similar dynamic in the past, not clearly responding to what is
happening in the present.
As I said in the last article in this series, the single most important
component in a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate.
We cannot communicate clearly when we are in reaction because we are not
being emotionally honest with ourselves.
We all learned to see life and self from a dysfunctional perspective
- from a perspective that taught us it was shameful to be bad or wrong.
We learned to blame. Since the perspective of life which civilization
is founded upon is black and white, right and wrong - we got the message
that if we could not figure out how to blame someone else, then it must
be our fault. Toxic shame is the feeling that I am somehow defective,
that there is something wrong with who I am as a being. That feeling
of being defective is so painful that we are willing to do almost anything
to avoid sinking into that abyss of pain within.
So we blame someone or something outside of ourselves to protect our
self. A dysfunctional civilization which teaches us to look outside
for our self worth, also teaches us to look outside for a villain.
Codependence is an emotional defense system which tries to take ego
credit for things that go the way we want them to, and blames someone else
when they do not.
If a person has not been working on healing these emotional wounds,
then any feedback will be felt as criticism - as being wrong or bad - and
the persons defense system reacts by becoming defensive. The best
defense is a good offense, as they say, so many times we go on the offensive
pointing out where the other person is wrong or bad. When confronted
we blame. We either blame the other or we blame ourselves - in which
case we sink into depression and despair, into alcohol, drugs, and food,
This is the reason that most relationships turn into power struggles
about who is right and who is wrong. Who has more right to feel victimized
by the other. We come up with whatever justification and rationalization
we can to deflect the blame from ourselves - as a way of self preservation.
These behaviors are not bad or shameful. They are the inevitable
dynamic set up when two people, who have not healed their emotional wounds
and changed their dysfunctional programming, interact. We are powerless
over the dynamic until we start becoming co-creators of our life by healing
the past so that it is not dictating our life today.
It is impossible to Truly hear what another person is saying when we
are busy loading up the big guns for our counter attack. We cannot
be present in the moment if our emotional defenses are triggered by what
is happening now. And these triggers can be a tone of voice, a gesture
(pointing a finger), a word or phrase, almost anything. When old
wounds are gouged we are pulled out of the now into our feelings from the
Once we start learning how to recognize when we are reacting and being
defensive, then we can start getting more emotionally honest - with our
self and with others. When we learn how to intervene in our own process
so that we are not living life in reaction to old wounds then we start
being capable of having healthy emotional intimacy. When two people
are both working on their healing there is a possibility of communication
and emotional honesty.
The more we heal the past, the fewer people are intruding on our relationship
in the moment. Those people - our parents or past romantic partners
- will still be in our psyche but we will be conscious enough to recognize
them when they start invading the now. Then we can communicate what
we are learning about our self from our reactions to our partner and share
our pain and fear and anger and sadness with her/him - that is True emotional