It never ceases to amaze me when a trigger erupts and, taken completely by surprise, I buy into its power to blow away the here and now as it catapults me into the then and there way back when.
Yesterday morning, C.C. and I had a conversation about something around our relationship. The issue isn't important. What happened within me is.
The night before I had asked a question that had put him on the defensive -- because I wasn't thinking about what I wanted to create with him, I leaped into my 'green' sweet spot of questioning to gain information, not listening to gain understanding. The next morning when I mentioned the conversation, he listened quietly, responded and that was that. Conversation over. In his mind, the issue was resolved.
For me, it wasn't quite so simple! I have a tendency to worry at issues, make them more complex than necessary, to drain them of all meaning -- it is one of my self-defeating games. Unfortunately, the game kicked in, the trigger was pulled. I felt like he was shutting me down, closing himself off, tuning out.
In that instance, I shut down. Smiled sweetly (don't ever let your opponent see you're hurt!) and went about emptying the dishwasher. Feeding the dogs. Making coffee. And all the while I was stuffing my feelings down, trying not to cry, trying not to show I was upset.
Inside my head, I could hear the voices of reason struggling to rise above the tapes hammering away at my peace of mind, but their attempts to be heard were pretty futile against the pull of my self-defeating behaviours grasping for a foothold in the grubby soils of past pains and hurts.
"Why bother," they whispered. "Just quit. Forget it. There's no hope for a meaningful relationship here. Leave before he does. Nothing is worth this. Relationship takes way too much work. You're much better off alone."
I wanted to quietly slink out of the kitchen, go into my bedroom, slam the door and scream! LOL -- I wanted to make a scene so that I could be the centre of attention. Boy, he'd know then how he hurt me! How dare he!
Now, for me, feeling like I'm being shut down, closed out, is lethal. That's where the tapes come in. It's also where awareness helped me understand what I was feeling had little to do with what had happened between C.C. and me and everything to do with the past.
As the battle of past hurts raged within, the voice of awareness began to unravel the then and there from the here and now.
"This isn't about what just happened, Louise," the voice said. "You're feeling the fear of the past repeating itself. You're breathing life into what happened way back then with G., and losing sight of what's going on right now."
I knew the voice was right. When I was married to my daughter's father, G., I felt like I was hammering futilely at his walls, trying to find some entry into his emotions. G. had often said that emotions were not worth the energy. Better to stay unemotional in every instance. I have a litany of things he did to demonstrate it, and they all wanted to come out yesterday morning and dance in my head to remind me that 'Intimacy is not safe."
Choosing emotionally unavailable men was a self-defeating game I played all the time back then. By being with someone emotionally unavailable, I could appear to be working hard at relationship, all the while knowing that what I was really doing was acting out my script that said, "Men don't have feelings. Men always hurt you."
Men do have feelings. Men do not always hurt me.
Yesterday morning, as I worried away at the problem and busily pushed my tears back while emptying the dishwasher, C.C. stepped towards me. He stilled my hands, put his arms around me and said, "I'm sorry I upset you."
The tears started.
Not because of what he'd done before that I had taken on as a 'hurt', but because he had done something different, something no one else had ever done. He'd stepped towards me even though I was upset. He'd opened himself up to feeling my tears and not closed himself off.
The words rushed out in a river of tears. "I spent 11 years of my marriage desperately trying to get my husband to see me, acknowledge me, and to let me see him. In that moment this morning, I felt the fear overwhelm me that the past was once again the future." I took a breath. "I know that was then, this is now. I know you want what I want in relationship and that you are willing to work to create it with me. Thank you for stepping towards me."
"That's what two people do when they care about each other," he said.
We talked some more and then went about our days. I had a meeting with a producer who wanted to hire me to write a screenplay (she did!) and C.C. had to meet with a CFO he was hiring for his company. Later in the afternoon, we met up and spent a wonderful evening watching the football game at a local pub, laughing and enjoying the antics of the group of rabid Roughrider fans at the table next to us.
All in all, a day well spent. A day filled with intimacy opening up time for in-to-me-see. A day of opportunity, growth, love and laughter.
The question is: Where do you buy into the tapes that would tell you the past is always present? Where do you give into the lie history repeats itself with your refusal to step into the truth that you have a choice to do it differently?