Reaching for the Love that Heals
We ‘think’ we desire love and awakening, but often on a subconscious level, we are playing out old trauma patterns and pushing away the love and truth that would heal us. With this wisdom under our sleeve, we can begin to choose love again and open to magical possibilities…
One of the most remarkable (and difficult to accept) patterns of human behavior is that we unconsciously re-create traumatic events in our lives, over and over again until we heal that pattern. Some people refer to this as our ‘law of attraction’, or ‘negative karma’. Most people are in denial of this phenomenon, because it is operating below the level of conscious awareness until you begin looking for it. It applies to the areas of our lives where we hold past traumas and fears, but in other arenas we may be functioning very well and have few problems. In the traumatized parts of our psyche we often create the exact opposite of what we think we want at a conscious level. This is perplexing and nearly unbelievable to the conscious mind. But, despite our attempts at denial, our unconscious mind is truly running the show on an emotional level.
It is easiest to see this pattern in children engaging in ‘play therapy’, who re-enact traumatic events with stick figures in the sandbox over and over again, until they somehow solve the problem and come to a different resolution. Or, it can be seen in recurring dreams that suddenly stop when the dream advances to a different ending. But, it is not limited to children and dreams. The same pattern is happening with our own ‘inner child’ who recreates childhood traumas in our current life in an attempt to solve them and come to resolution. We simply pick new people as substitutes for our parents (stick figure parents!). These might be intimate partners, bosses, ‘friends’, etc. It can also extend to events in our lives. For example, if we felt physically abandoned and had survival fears as a child, as an adult we may have issues with money, which gives us the feeling of security in the physical world.
We can also clearly see this pattern in our intimate relationships. We unconsciously choose partners who hold some of our parents’ key personality traits. They may appear on the surface to be completely different from our parents, but they share some core emotional patterns. Said in another way, we unconsciously marry our parents.
Why would we do that? We are attempting to heal a childhood emotional conflict with our parents by replaying that same dynamic again and again in our current relationships, naively hoping for a different outcome. We want our partner to give us what our parents did not, but they are too much like our parents to help us. At times we may even unconsciously provoke our partners to intensify these behaviors to ensure our relationship dramas continue.
So, if our parents did not give us physical affection and a sense of emotional safety, what’s wrong with reaching for that with our current partner? Nothing, if they are able to give it, but therein lies the rub. Until we have healed this pattern, we choose people like our parents, who aren’t capable of fulfilling these desires. We ask them to be present when they are too wounded to be present. We ask them to support the family financially when they are too scared to do that. We ask them to be physically affectionate and express their love for us when they are withdrawn and taciturn. We ask them to share their sexuality with us when they are terrified of it. In essence, we choose people who cannot fulfill our desires on some level. Thus we have recreated the core emotional dynamic of our own childhood, in which it was ‘hopeless’ to receive a certain quality of love and safety. We are reaching for love and support from the wrong person, from a personality who cannot possibly give it. Or, alternately, we may give up hope and stop reaching for love completely, preferring the safety of our ‘independence’, which perpetuates the loneliness we felt in childhood. This push and pull from wounded models of love is the essence of our relationship traumas and dramas.
So, if you are in a troubled relationship now, is it hopeless that it could change? Possibly, it depends on how much you and your partner want to grow. Your relationship is likely fulfilling some of your desires for love, connection, support, sexuality, etc. And, it is probably an upgrade from your childhood relationship with your parents. Most people fear reaching for change in the relationship because they fear their partner will leave them, or fear discovering that they themselves will want to end the relationship. But, if you dream of taking it to the next level, and fulfilling your deepest desires and longings, it will require a major emotional transformation in yourself as well as your partner. That change will always involve feeling uncomfortable emotions. Without that change, it is hopeless. Withthat transformation, anything is possible.
In order for a relationship to grow, both partners must be willing to change – one partner cannot force it upon the other. It takes committed co-responsibility from both partners. We cannot change or rescue others. We can only invite.
Sometimes promises are given, but the true and self-motivated commitment to grow is missing. If one partner changes and the other chooses not to, or goes at a very different pace, they will grow apart or the relationship could end. It takes a great deal of honesty to assess whether we and our partners are really on board for the journey. And it takes courage, especially if we are the first one to change and are unsure if our partner will follow.
It also requires that we stop reaching for love, connection, support and approval from people or personalities that cannot support us – and most importantly that includes no longer reaching out to the wounded aspects of our parents and partners. It requires that we stop hoping for the impossible and re-assess the situation with unflinching honesty. This process requires that our inner child realizes the hopelessness of receiving the kind of love we wanted from our parents or their innumerable ‘stand-ins’ that we drew into our lives. The love and support we want is available, but it must come from new places. And we must reach for it.
It is not enough to understand these emotions on an intellectual level, we must surrender to them and feel them completely. It is an intensely emotional process that always involves releasing deep grief, and often anger and depression as well.
It is the hero or heroine’s journey – literally the subject of myth – the hardest and most rewarding adventure we could ever imagine. As we heal and reclaim aspects of our personality that fragmented off at an early developmental age, we can emerge into more integrated and mature humans, capable of giving and receiving love in a powerful new way. Through this process we are able to hold a new frequency of love in our lives, and attract a new frequency of relationship. In this energy it becomes possible to connect with your soulmate or other soul-fulfilling relationships. This is the transformation of love that infuses your whole life with a different quality of being.
Artist Credits (in order of appearance, images in the public domain):
Dante Gabriel Rossetti ‘Roman de la Rose’
Eward Burne-Jones, 1894