- Many people who have experienced emotional injury reject their previous world to try to create a more tolerable reality.
- Mutual support that we provide for one another can enable us to break free from our old patterns.
- The path of growth and healing is challenging one, but there is no question about its value.
Linda : Many people have experienced a significant degree of emotional injuries in their early lives. In many cases, they felt that they didn’t belong, or didn’t want to belong, to their original family. In their inability to change or successfully adapt to their situation, they rejected their previous world in an effort to create a more tolerable reality. Such a survival strategy requires great courage and resourcefulness since it involves the willingness to risk all ties with those who live by their family’s values. When we establish a strong connection with a romantic partner, we find the power to loosen our destructive family ties. This is what Judith Wallerstein refers to as a rescue relationship. Some of us couldn’t hold out that long and broke free from our families without the safety net of a supportive partnership.
Few of us enter into a relationship with the conscious intention of recovering from our wounds or even an awareness of the wounds themselves. But in an environment in which both people feel loved, accepted, and supported, there is a natural tendency to bring out all that has previously been withheld and denied. The feeling of safety in the relationship compels the emergence of that which needs care, draws us into the process. The depth of our commitment allows us to transcend the circumstances we found ourselves in as children and young adults.
There are those of us who are possessed by a single-minded dedication that borders on obsession to free ourselves from the constraints of the world that was intolerable. We are driven by an overpowering ambition to overcome the conditions that caused grave limitations in our ability to live life fully. We are determined to now live our lives with authenticity, integrity, and passion. It is the mutual support that we are able to provide for one another that enables us to break free from the old patterns.
The process is not one-sided. When both partners are in need of healing both are transformed. In situations where a couple is labeled as co-dependent, it is a failure on the part of each person to recover their own wholeness. But the potential is still there. At any point, we can step into that possibility. We all go through a stage that could be called co-dependent, but we don’t have to stay there. We can continue our own growth and development to eventually break through and became more responsible. Instead of putting the responsibility for our well-being in the hands of the other, we can finally accept the responsibility ourselves. And we can do this without shutting out our partner’s influence and support.
The reopening of old emotional wounds, which have not been fully healed, is often a painful process involving more than many people are willing to endure. It is usually not a decision that is made intentionally or even consciously. It is rather a state of being that couples open to when they feel trusting of their partner. There is an intuitive awareness that the possibility of healing is available with this person. Recognizing that wholeness is possible is the incentive to overcome the resistance to facing the old painful experiences.
It’s not surprising that so many people choose lives of “quiet desperation” rather than face their demons. Overcoming the resistance to this process requires great courage, strength, commitment, and perhaps most importantly the support of a partner who is willing to go the distance. We possess the ability to heal at the very beginning of our journey together. The road is paved with surprises, failures, and victories, awaiting our attention to use them for our growth and development. By the time our healing is complete, we are no longer the same people who began the journey. Both partners are transformed by the healing process, to ultimately become more autonomous as individuals, and more intimately bonded as a couple. The path of growth and healing is a challenging one, but if you ask those who are reaping the benefits, there is no question about the true value of the restorative and beneficial journey.