You looked at me so strangely,
As if I smacked you in the face.
The calmness and excitement gone,
Severe anger in its place.
What happened to the one who was loving?
Where did that person go?
All I did was ask a question,
But you’re acting like I hurt you so.
It seems you are seeing something else,
Something that isn’t about me and you.
The trigger is clearly so painful,
But I didn’t do those things to you.
Now our joy is hampered,
What we were starting to create contaminated.
Suddenly there are issues and problems,
Because your past is somewhat jaded.
I cannot make you love me,
And I cannot undo what was done.
But I’m trying to see past the confusion,
And get back to what was begun.
You do not trust me with your feelings,
You’re choosing to close down your heart.
You’re keeping me at a painful distance,
But you weren’t this way at the start.
Maybe you don’t want to risk it,
Maybe true love is your fear.
I’ve tried to prove that I’m trustworthy,
And now I’m the one hurting here.
So even though I can understand,
That your past is still causing you pain,
I can’t keep putting my heart on the line,
So you can play with it time and again.
I have to accept where we are at now,
And deal with the sadness within.
I’ll try to be grateful for the good times
Even though it was gone before it could begin.
Have you ever noticed how, in the beginning stages of a relationship, things can go from incredible and awesome to confusing and crushing?
I say it that way because time and time again I have clients coming to me asking for relationship advice and some perspective on why their new relationship starting turning sour, seemingly without warning.
It’s true, our relationships often drive us…They are either lifting us up to great heights or they are pulling us down. We look to our social relationships (all of them, not just our romantic, intimate and/or sexual ones) for emotional fuel. We look to our relationships for value, support, validation and ultimately, love.
We tend to put a lot of value on our intimate and romantic relationships, and because of this, it is those relationships that often become the most painful and disappointing.
What brings two people together in a romantic/intimate relationship can often fall short when it comes to moving past the infatuation stage into the mature, committed love that so many of us seek. So, what happens in the interim?
What usually happens when the infatuation starts to wear off and reality starts to set in? Why is it that so often, even though two people might have everything working for them, when the infatuation fades the relationship crashes instead of developing into the more mature, committed love relationship?
Triggers. When we experience a trigger it means that something happens now, in our current lives that make us feel emotions that we buried deep down inside of ourselves sometime in our past.
And unfortunately, when we start a new relationship, and all the excitement and good feelings are too much to resist, we stop resisting feelings altogether, and the emotional “baggage” that we carry around with us starts to get “triggered”.
This is usually when the initial infatuation stage starts to fade, and if we do not have the maturity to recognize when we are being triggered and have the skills to work with those triggers, the relationship suffers. In fact, often times, the new relationship starts to feel and look a lot like our old relationships (if the new one doesn’t end immediately that is.)
Let’s set aside the fact that sometimes two people are attracted to each other a lot physically but they don’t have enough in common to go beyond the physical infatuation (because this happens too). And let’s just look at the scenario where key elements do exist and still the relationship ends up in turmoil. That being said, let’s assume some of the key elements are there like:
- Physical attraction
- Similar beliefs and viewpoints
- Common interests
So, we have these key elements and find that we get along great, have a great time, and start feeling all kinds of exciting feelings. We are hopeful that this time, finally, we have found our “true love” or “soul mate”, someone who gets us like no one else ever has. Someone who makes us feel things that we thought we would never feel…
We may start to let our emotional barriers down, even a little bit at first, or we might open up completely emotionally and surrender to the exhilaration that this new relationship has brought. We start to feel things, things like ‘love’. We might even feel like we are falling in love…
And then things change. Often they change very quickly, because something happens and one person gets upset. This “upset” can mean different things, but usually the emotional reaction of the person is not entirely based on the current relationship or circumstance. I’m not saying that whatever happens isn’t upsetting, but that the degree of the hurt isn’t congruent to the offense.
Here’s a fictional story as an example:
When Todd met Ali, he saw stars. He didn’t even know how to explain the draw that he had to Ali, but he knew he had to get to know her. It was like, well, it was like “love at first sight”. It wasn’t logical or rational, and Todd knew it, and even though Todd was always a rational and logical person, he couldn’t help but throw his logic aside and get as close as he could to Ali.
Ali felt the same way, and although she normally tried to take things slow with men, her cautions seemed a little ridiculous when it came to Todd. She felt very comfortable with him, as if they had known each other for years, and she just couldn’t help but give in to Todd’s persistence so they could get to know each other.
So Todd and Ali spent a lot of time together, talking, laughing and hanging around town. And the more time they spent together, the more they both started to realize that they had a lot in common. The connection they felt was almost overwhelming, causing them to crave being with each other, and wanting to be as close as possible. They even ended up being intimate way before their normal “time frame” for something like that when dating.
A few weeks go by and everything seems to be going great. They haven’t even argued yet, and so they start making plans to spend more time together in the future. They don’t talk about marriage or anything like that yet, but it has become the assumption that one of them would be sleeping at the other’s place almost every night. They do just about everything together.
After a few weeks pass, Ali starts to feel the urge to spend a little time by herself, especially so she could tend to things that she had been neglecting at home since she started seeing Todd. So she lets Todd know that she needs to be home working on stuff for the next couple days and although Todd is a little disappointed, he tells Ali that he understands and that he could use the time to himself too. But Todd is a little more than disappointed.
Consequently, during the time that they are apart, Todd starts to let his mind wander, and his feelings of disappointment start to get to him. He starts to struggle with the disappointment, wanting to not feel it and wanting to feel better, and so he starts to resist how he feels. And then he starts to feel a little angry. “Why couldn’t Ali do what she needs to do with me there? What is it that she really needs to take care of anyway?” The insecurity and doubt starts to set in, and the hurt and disappointment from Todd’s previously failed relationships begins to surface, without him realizing it. His mind is able to find some connection to how he is feeling to what is going on in his current life, so it doesn’t occur to him that some of the emotions are actually from his past.
Even with his shifting emotions, what Todd really wants is to be calm, so when he talks to Ali, he acts like everything is just fine. They only spend two nights away from each other and although Todd knows in his head that this is no big deal, emotionally he is “upset”. He can’t really explain his feelings to Ali because he really doesn’t understand why he is so upset, because it doesn’t make sense. So Todd, the next time he is with Ali, holds his feelings in.
Ali missed being with Todd, and when she sees him, her face lights up in excitement. She goes to him as she usually does, wrapping her arms around him and giving him a kiss. But Todd’s response is a little different. Ali can’t quite put her finger on it, but she senses that something is wrong. She asks Todd if he is upset, and because he wants to be fine, he tells her that he is. But he makes a mental note that he needs to control his feelings better because Ali could tell something was wrong. He doesn’t want to talk about it and he doesn’t want to make things worse, so he tries to act like everything is “normal”.
Later that night, while they are lying on the couch watching a movie, Ali makes a comment about being tired and wanting to go to bed. Todd, having held in his feelings all day and now being a little bit tired himself, reacts unknowingly with “Don’t you want to go home tonight?”
Ali is surprised by Todd’s comment, and immediately she sits up and looks at him. “Do you want me to go home?” she asks, a little hurt and confused.
Todd doesn’t want Ali to go home, not at all, but he doesn’t want to expect her to sleep at his house if she is just going to leave. Todd doesn’t want to feel disappointed again, and in an attempt to prepare himself for that possibility, he acts as though he doesn’t care if Ali goes home that night. “If you want to, I’m fine either way.”
Ali takes Todd’s comment personally, as if Todd doesn’t want her to spend the night. In her confusing, she starts to panic, and she has to hold back the tears forming in her eyes. “If you want me to go home to sleep, Todd, just say so.”
“I told you, I’m fine either way” he says, with a cold look on his face.
Ali doesn’t want to be there if he doesn’t want her there, and she starts to feel hurt and rejected. She is unsure of what happened, of why Todd doesn’t want her to stay over, and she gathers her things and heads for the door.
“So that’s it, huh? You’re leaving? Just like that?” Todd’s expression is now angry and cold.
Ali doesn’t know how to respond and she is unsure about what she did that has made Todd so upset. “It doesn’t seem like you want me to stay, Todd. So, yeah, I’ll go home.”
Todd stands there, in the middle of the room, several feet from Ali and keeps his expression blank. He can’t believe that she is going home, again. And all of the disappointment and hurt he had been pushing down for the last couple days as well as the hurt from his past relationships starts to take over.
“Fine.” He says, as he continues to keep his distance from Ali.
Ali doesn’t want to seem weak, or too sensitive, so she holds back her tears and walks out. It isn’t until she gets into her car that she succumbs to the hurt. She has no idea what has happened or why Todd didn’t want her there all of the sudden, especially because things were so great. She was starting to really trust Todd and let her guard down, and how could she not? He had been so wonderful to her all this time. Since they met, Todd made her feel like he really cared about her and her feelings, and now, all of the sudden it was as if Todd felt nothing for her. Ali starts to feel the familiar feelings of rejection and disappointment, as well as regret and she cries all the way back to her house. She also starts to feel overwhelmed by emotion as her past feelings get triggered by the current events.
Both Todd and Ali had been hurt before, by other people. And they both dealt with their hurt as much as could, the best that they knew how and they “moved on”. And when they met each other, they both were craving love and positive attention, so the excitement of being together was exhilarating. So what do you think would be the most likely scenario to follow in that story?
Most likely both Todd and Ali would continue to try to deal with their feelings as they have in the past, and if neither of them has the maturity level to actually address the issues (and feelings), the relationship would likely end in a short amount of time. “Another failed relationship”.
But what happened? And what would a more mature couple do differently to avoid the failing of the relationship?
Well, for starters, both people had repressed emotions that they entered the relationship with…baggage.
But neither one of them really knew it because they thought they dealt with their feelings and moved on. But more often than not, “dealing” with our feelings looks a lot like ignoring them, distracting ourselves from them, repressing them and acting them out towards other people. None of these approaches actually puts us in the position of being fully healed and starting a new relationship with a clean slate.
When we get into a new relationship and start to feel the new feelings, we let our guard down and stop resisting feelings altogether. Once we stop resisting feelings, old (repressed or suppressed) feelings start to surface, because the old feelings have been sitting there, waiting to come out. And you can’t truly be selective as to which feelings you will allow yourself to feel, you can only try to ignore some of them.
Both Todd and Ali had the opportunity to communicate with each other about their feelings, but neither of them did. Instead, because they did not understand their feelings and because they were not used to feeling their emotions, they were driven by their feelings to protect themselves from more possible hurt, disappointment and rejection. Ironically, they created what they were trying to avoid. This is a common scenario. And to me, it is a sad one.
The fact of the matter is that most people have not been taught how to properly deal with their feelings, and so once they are repressed, they start to influence our day to day lives.
The most common feelings to get repressed are the ones that are painful, uncomfortable or scary, and so those, specifically, start to make our new relationships toxic because when an emotion is repressed, it is always naturally trying to move out of us or be “set free”. Repressing an emotion is holding onto it, usually unintentionally. And resisting emotions often leads to repressing them.
When you hold onto an emotion and enter a new relationship, that emotion is bound to surface when you start to feel even the good feelings from the new relationship.
How you handle your feelings is critical when you are in a relationship, and choosing to communicate about those feelings without necessarily blaming your partner is essential if you want the relationship to last. It is also important to realize that you probably have some repressed emotions, and that some of what you may start to feel in a new relationship may actually be from your past and not from the new relationship.
The new relationship may “trigger” the old emotions, but if those old emotions weren’t there already,the circumstance that triggers you would probably be much more manageable.
How we are treated by people we care about does affect how we feel about them and ourselves, so we can’t dismiss our feelings about someone’s behavior. But if you want to have a great relationship, understand that it can be very helpful for you to mentally “go back” and allow some of the repressed emotions to surface and be dealt with. Or you can use current triggers to guide you to repressed emotions just by looking at how you are feeling and times in your past that you first remember feeling that way.
Using your logic won’t make those emotions go away and neither will ignoring them, so make the decision to start acknowledging how you feel, and how you felt when you were hurt in your past. Talk to someone about those feelings, ideally someone who is not involved in the situation (like neutral friends or even a therapist) and/or write them out in a journal, but most importantly, stop resisting them!
You don’t have to act on those emotions, or make any decisions based on them (and I recommend that you don’t), but take some time every day to just sit and welcome your feelings, whatever they are. And as the Sedona Method teaches, welcome your thoughts about those feelings as well as the sensations in your body “as best as you can”.
This is really important because emotions were meant to come to you, be felt and move through you…leaving. The energy of the emotion, when you resist it, gets stuck (potentially actually getting stuck in your body). And it stays stuck until you stop resisting it. And when you “fall in love” or let your guard down, you stop resisting your feelings, and that’s when the old emotions start to creep out.
I am not suggesting that this is an easy process to go though, but I also know that even though the old feelings might be scary or overwhelming, it is unlikely that they are anything that you can’t handle…especially if you are proactively choosing to allow them to be felt so they can leave. And if you are choosing to deal with them, you are unlikely going to inappropriately blame someone in your life today for how you feel, because most of us are feeling repressed emotions more than emotions caused by what’s going on in our lives today anyway!
The theory is the more you release old emotions, the better you will feel naturally, because we are naturally wired to be peaceful.
For more information about The Sedona Method, click here.
For information about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) click here.