Treasure Hunting in Minefields

Guest post by Melody Brooke, MA, LPC, LMFT

Sometimes talking to our partner is like walking on a minefield, isn’t it?  And, you don’t know when you are going to lose a limb!

What if you could release the trigger with no casualties? It would allow you to discover the treasure inside the mine.

You know how it is, when couples have been together for a while, there are just some topics, some areas, that even if you want a change; you learn to just not ever go there.

Eventually, you will just distance yourself from the person that you love rather than push to get what you really want from your partner because it’s just to risky. It just doesn’t seem worth to communicate our needs.

Its no wonder communication is so hard for us. Yet those of us who can overcome our difficulties with communication are the best equipped for any career and have far more financial and social success.

For myself, my “dysfunctional family” further complicated all the cultural edicts against communication. I learned to keep secrets, to protect others from my feelings (I didn’t want anyone to know how badly I hurt because then I would have to tell them why), and to try to guess what others wanted from me since they wouldn’t come out and tell me.

To get to good communication in my marriage we had to fight a number of difficulties from the very beginning. First, I was phobic of his anger (anger in my family meant someone would get abandoned or hurt) and because of his own Self-Protector mode anger was his primary emotion.  Second, I hid my real feelings because of how I had been trained as a child.  The first year of our marriage was turbulent and extremely painful at times.  It was a good thing we were so crazy about each other or we could never have survived it!

Overcoming the fear of really being heard was a tough thing for me.  I was pretty thoroughly entrenched in the “Victim” role.  It has been an evolving process that resembles the peeling of the layers of an onion.  My husband loved me enough to hang in there with me as I peeled off the excess skin and let him see my real self.  Because of my childhood wounds I never believed anyone would or could love the “real” me.  Yet the opposite has proved to be true.  The more I allow my real self to be exposed the more he loves me and the better friendships I develop.

But exposing my real self means telling people what I really think, feel, and need and that can make me feel very vulnerable. What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like me? What if they get mad at me? What if they leave me? What if “something terrible” happens?  I didn’t realize the value of what was inside me and so I expected to be abandoned.

But the worst thing that can happen is my abandoning myself.  It may not feel like that is the worst thing in the heat of the moment.  In the heat of the moment the fear of the other person’s reaction feels worse than the consequences to the quality of the relationship, or the impact it has on you.  But it is not.  Abandoning yourself in this way prevents you from getting what it is you really want in your life and in your relationships. And ultimately, it keeps you from feeling good about yourself.

The ugly truth is that if we speak our truths, if we say what we really feel and want (in ways that are both respectful and empathetic) the other person could still reject us and we could lose them.  But which is worse, rejecting ourselves or being rejected by another person? My personal experience is that if we are maintaining the relationship with a lie about who we are the relationship is doomed anyway.

In the course of my first marriage I seldom told my whole truth, I struggled to keep up the lie that I was okay with how things were going. I have never been so depressed as I was during those years. Today, though my husband doesn’t always like it, I tell him what I think and what I need.  This adds depth and authenticity to our relationship and cements our commitment to each other.  That’s a real treasure.

Speaking our truth may be hard. It may be terrifying in fact. But not speaking our truth can condemn us to unsatisfying, painful relationships with others as well as with ourselves.  Taking Ownership if our needs, wants and feelings while being Respectful and Empathetic with those we love can transform our lives and our relationships. It may be unsettling at first, but oh, is it ever worth it!

When people are in dire circumstances, like poverty, they keep moving, keep hoping the next place will be better. This is what happens when our relationships are in poverty; we give up and move on, hoping it will be better next time.  Sometimes we just give up and don’t even try again.  Ever known people like that?

Developing an emotionally wealthy relationship requires walking through the minefields. Not all of us are brave enough to do it, that’s what the divorce rate is so high.

But once you discover how each trigger contains important, valuable, and precious pieces of information about you and your partner; that changes everything.  These parts are the very things that drew you to them in the first place, but they have been hiding behind layers of dynamite. Fearing the explosions, you have tiptoed around trying not to set off the blast only to lose your partner and your love in the process.

Once you discover how to defuse the charge and hold the treasure in your hands, providing the safety and nurturing that part needs to come into the light of day, you’ll discover the fun of playing with the person you fell in love with so long ago.

Nearly 20 years experience helping severely emotionally disturbed clients as well as normal couples; troubled adolescents and their families has honed Melody’s message of respect, love, and happiness. Melody is a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, graduating Texas Woman’s University in 1989. She is published in The Radix Journal, Dallas Recovery Magazine, The Southwest Morticians Journal, Plano Child Magazine, on the Dan and Jennifer Relationship website, and is the author of Cycles of the Heart; A way out of the egocentrism of everyday life, and Oh WOW! This changes everything. Her latest work, the This is Great Sex Workbook transforms relationship land mines into relationship gold mines. Melody is currently in private practice in Richardson, Texas and helps clients all over the globe via Skype sessions. To find out more go to http://www.awakenedheartproductions.com

 

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