69. Relationship Realities: Some People Are Locked In An Emotional System Hoping That Their Relationships Will Heal Their Childhood Issues. Are You?
Similar to the family system (blog 34/35) during which each family member learns consciously or unconsciously to play certain roles within their family, the same applies to relationships.
We bring what we have learnt from the past into our relationships and often we play the same role that we learnt within our families of origin. This is not always obvious in the beginning of a relationship – sometimes it only becomes evident much later on.
However, when people share a huge amount of childhood issues they can very slowly become entangled and then locked into an emotional system or an unconscious fantasy or hope – that somehow the relationship will heal something of each partner’s past.
But relationships are not therapy.
Unfortunately many forget this, or possibly don’t realise that when two people become attracted to one another, usually it is because they are attracted to what they both share either consciously or unconsciously.
This allows people to become emotionally interwoven and often the more they share emotionally – the more their issues will merge.
Once a couple become locked into a particular relationship system, unlocking what has become an emotionally merged and entangled couple is often very hard.
The worse scenario is watching a couple endure domestic violence. Outsiders often wonder why the couple cannot separate. Yet sometimes no matter how violent the abuse may be, a couple can remain locked in an emotional system that is very hard to break away from.
Within this scenario, the couple can stubbornly hang on to their fantasy – that somehow tomorrow everything will be better and that they will find healing. This is when the shared couple fantasy or hope can become very powerful.
And observers can become very impatient as they watch the couple act out their system over and over again. As a result, friends and family members often just walk away – leaving the couple feeling very isolated.
Yet you will hear all sorts of excuses as to why a couple cannot split.
Sometimes these excuses or reasons have to be taken very seriously. If one member tries to leave, this can trigger a whole range of emotions, including fear of abandonment and so on. At this point, the violence can get worse. And in some cases, the end result could even be fatal for either partner.
This is why this system of intertwining can be very frightening and dangerous, for those involved in this game of unconscious hope and fantasy.
This is often referred to as ‘trauma bonding’.
This is when two people become addicted to living on an emotional rollercoaster and cannot find a way of separating. They remain locked in the addiction – needing one another to feed their cortisol and dopamine levels via either their dangerous or violent behaviour or when things are calm.
Often the only way a couple can help themselves – is if they find a way of tearing themselves apart. Another alternative is through long-term therapy.
When a couple project unaddressed issues onto one another, the relationship can become very complex. At this point, often outside help is needed, so that each member can begin to understand all the threads and connections that have made them, and as a result, the couple relationship so very unhappy.
Although I have used this extreme example to explain how a couple can get locked into a particular system – most couples share issues that tie or connect them together.
This is why understanding your past, your possible unaddressed issues, big or small, becomes so vital within a relationship. Without having self-knowledge or self-awareness a relationship can become emotionally chaotic and fraught with pain.
This is why I repeatedly said, ‘Being in a relationships is not the equivalent of being in therapy. It is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own lives because no one, no one will ever rescue any of us. It is up to each one of us to do that for ourselves.’
So that we can make sure that our issues do not become too intertwined with our partners – as this can cause much pain. So why do it?
© 2017 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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