In “The Art of Surrender”, I talked about this unprecedented time; the deep fear, grief and pain that is surfacing for so many at this time. The new normal of working from home, managing distance-learning, and being faced with the feeling of needing to do all the things.
For many couples, this is the first time they’ve been without a break. Constantly together. With the addition of kids at home and the dynamic of distance-learning, on top of the collective anxiety, it feels like we’ve reached a breaking point. Which makes sense, as our two biggest mirrors are our children and our partners. And being face-to-face with a mirror of our pain in one of the most collectively painful times leads to an almost combustible situation.
At this time, all of our shadows are coming to light. All of the deep pain that we have carried for so long, whether it’s childhood pain, a chronic painful story (like “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t belong”), or just a lifetime of masking our feelings, is coming up to be seen, felt, and healed.
In this pressure-cooker-like situation, we are being asked to take on more than we can bear within a constantly stimulated environment, so it’s no wonder that all of our pain is spilling out. Unfortunately, for those with deep pain or without the proper healing tools or support, it is spilling out onto our loved ones. We are being shown our deepest pain and darkest shadows through those that we love.
For some, the pain of their partner is being projected onto them. For others, they are seeing their biggest fears played out through their partner (either real or perceived). And for others, it feels like constant turmoil with no end or a constant state of feeling almost ready to burst; impatient, irritable and overwhelmed.
You may be seeing a painful side of yourself or your partner that you have never seen before, or it may feel like one of you is an entirely different person, which may leave you questioning your relationship or your future together.
Finding Relief & Healing
First, understand that pain can be healed, and no situation is permanent. This is a truly unprecedented time where we are dealing with events and situations completely unlike anything we’ve ever known, so it makes sense that this would uncover wounds within us never before seen. Even if you or a loved one is in deep pain, or your relationship is at the breaking point, there is always help and there is always a possibility of healing if both people are willing to heal. Find a healer, a mentor, a therapist – individually and/or together.
Second, find space. Whether this is only 5 minutes alone in the bathroom several times a day, a quick 10-minute meditation in the morning, or an evening bath, take space for yourself. Make it a priority to check in with yourself several times a day and give yourself what you need, setting appropriate boundaries for those in your life. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so make sure you take care of yourself and fill your cup first, even if you have ten people waiting in line behind you. Everyone else can wait; they really can.
Boundaries are important, and it needs to be said that if you are in a dangerous or abusive situation, do not wait for healing. Get into a safe space and then see if healing and a healthy partnership is possible from your safe and separate space. It takes two people to create a healthy partnership and both of you must be willing to do the emotional work necessary to create a healthy partnership. No one can do enough healing work to make up for another’s lack of healing.
If you are not in a dangerous situation, but your partner is not treating you with respect or care and they are taking their pain out on you, set immediate and strong boundaries. The moment they start spewing pain onto you, let them know you are not available to be treated like that and you will continue the conversation when it can be done in a healthy way, then remove yourself from the situation (even if it means hanging out in the bathroom for a few minutes while they calm down). Do your best not to engage with them when you are not both calm.
One of the most helpful things for me has been to shift my perspective of the person or situation. To realize that hurt people hurt people. If someone is spewing pain at you, it’s because they are in great pain. This is not to excuse what they are doing, as it’s their responsibility to heal their pain and not transfer it onto others, but it does allow us to have compassion for them and it makes it easier to show up with love in response to pain.
Also, every situation, experience or person that triggers us (makes us feel angry, sad, irritated, upset) is like a neon sign pointing to the next layer of our own healing. It may seem like your partner is to blame or your kids are constantly misbehaving, but if you can shift your perspective to look at what it’s bringing up within you, you will find a call for healing instead of just pain. This is not to say that no one else is doing anything “wrong,” but that if it triggers you, there is also healing there for you.
Everything is always happening for us. Always. This pain is a call for deep healing and this can be a time of great growth and a return to wholeness if you allow it, both individually and within our partnerships.