Think back to some difficult childhood times. How did you cope? Did you sleep with the radio loud to drown out your parents fighting, or did you spend all your time out of the house to avoid them? Were you stuck in the middle and forced to fight for survival, or protect others, from the angry drunken wrath of your father? Were you forced to fend for yourself, and deny that you had needs because your mother was too overwhelmed and depressed to notice you?
Write down how you learned to get by, or survive, in your childhood home. These are behaviors we learned to help us when we were in distress. These early relational patterns were necessary then, and without realizing it, we carry them with us. Most likely, this is how we guard ourselves against distress in current relationships, and consequently, these patterns may also be the cause of the distress in our relationships.
Write down what you do currently when you’re in distress. Do you avoid tough conversations because you are afraid it will lead to a fight? Maybe you have your guard up so high, protecting you from possible threats that you don’t let your partner in enough to feel loved. Or maybe, you have simply become a self-sufficient, independent person who doesn’t need anybody, then find yourself alone, and unable to get your needs met by others.
If we looked honestly at ourselves, taking ownership for what we create, would we realize that these patterns are damaging our lives and relationships?
Sometimes writing down what we need, emotionally, from our partners and our lives can give us an accurate picture of what we have re-created. Often times it is what we are doing, or not-doing, that keeps us from getting what we want and need. For example, if you often feel alone and unfulfilled in relationships, and you have realized that you often hide who you really are, and hide your needs and wants, they you can start thinking about how to open yourself up to giving and receiving more love, companionship, and compassion so you are able to feel more fulfilled.
Now write down what will keep you from meeting your needs. Is it fear, embarrassment, the unknown? This is what you have to push through and overcome. Change is always frightening. We often keep the same unhealthy patterns because it is what we know: there is comfort in habits and routine, even if they no longer serve us well.
We can cross the street and enter a new way of being. By acknowledging new feelings that will come up for us, we can decide which is the best option: living our lives with the same hurtful patterns, or entering a place of not knowing, where the outcome can be more of the same, or pleasantly sweet and unexpected. Will will never know what is on the other side until we get there.