How do you take care of those [emotional] bruises? You can’t touch them, you can’t see them, you can’t comfort them. If you can’t see their tangibility and existence, how can others? How can the one standing across from you see the intensity with which you hurt? How can they know that the pain is hot and unbearable? That the fear and sadness make you want to run away and hide until they cease? How can they know?
It’s a tough challenge taking care of ourselves, and letting others take a part in our healing journey. I know that for me, even with my years of experience as a Marriage & Family Therapist, I still struggle. I struggle in showing my pain and letting myself be vulnerable because what if I hurt again? That thought alone is enough to make my protective shield come up.
I talked about life experiences in an earlier piece (you can read it here) — about how they shape who we become, how we present ourselves to the world, how we show up in relationships with others. My life experiences sometime feel like I decided to go for 5K and ended up taking the Ultramarathon route instead. It feels like there are challenges that are never-ending. I know that they’re not permanent, and I know that the journey eventually will end. But meanwhile, the emotional bruises that these journeys have created, have left some deep scars — pieces of me that are too sensitive and easily hurt.
A few weeks ago, I fell from my bike, and oh, did that fall leave some nasty bruises. But some ice and rest did wonders for that kind of pain.
Emotional pain, however, doesn’t work like that. For that kind of pain, we need to learn to find other ways of healing. And usually, it involves being able to be vulnerable and let ourselves be cared for and supported — by ourselves and by others.
So what about when this pain shows up in relationships with others? Specifically, our partners? When something they do or they say hits a trigger point, and you start hurting? And reacting!
I see often, in my practice and in my personal life, that we are masters at protecting ourselves. We become defensive, we use passive-aggressiveness, we shut down and isolate ourselves, we use angry words towards our partners and the relationship — all with the…