Trixie came to me with an insightful observation. She explained, whenever she made any step toward more intimacy with her beloved, by being vulnerable and asking for some vulnerability or emotional honesty in return, he’d stone-wall her. She felt shut down and ultimately rejected by him. As we worked together to find the feeling of rejection and where the root of the rejection resided—it did not originate in this relationship—we found it was a long ago emotional wounding that was being triggered. Thus, began the process of healing that wound.
This is Part 2 of the Compassionate Witnessing blog previously posted here. In Part One, I talked about a painful, grade-school experience and how talking about it to a compassionate witness helped me. I also wrote about the importance of having a compassionate witness.
I’ve had the honour and privilege to be a compassionate witness to many people. And, have since been enlightened by other gifted teachers, like my daughter, Ali in taking this process even further so that emotional wounding can be more deeply understood, healed and then fully integrated.
The Steps to Healing Emotional Wounds (Review)
- Find some alone time and connect with your body.
- Feel where, in your body, there is tension, pain or heaviness.
- connect to a place with any of those feelings, just be aware of them. Observe them.
- Breathe space around the feeling, giving them room to grow.
- Name it. What is the wound? What caused it?
- Find a Compassionate Witness OR you can be your own compassionate witness.
The Wound is Where the Light is
Every rejection we feel triggers our original emotional wounding. Our original wounds repeatedly appear dressed up as different scenarios. The original wound goes something like this:
a) your primary source of survival—a parent/guardian/caregiver—physically and or emotionally removes their attention/caregiving/love from you.
B) you perceive this as you are bad and wrong—and love—and in your innocence, what you believe is your source of survival—has been taken away and you must conform, reform, reject some aspect of yourself to get that love/source of survival back.
c) from then on, any perceived threat to security re-enforces your belief and behavior to reject/change/subjugate some part of yourself so that you can be loved, not alone, not rejected.
d) That original wound, in fact, is not a ‘poor me, sad-rejection’ incident. It is an opportunity. An aspect of yourself was presented-YOUR UNIQUE EXPRESSION OF THE LIGHT. Instead of it being met with encouragement or even curiosity as an expression of your very specific personal will, desire, power, etc., you were subjected to disapproval/shame/fear, because it did not fit with your familial/cultural/societal rule of what is acceptable.
e) because you had no understanding or ability to be autonomous, you shut down, hid, cut off that part of yourself and accepted the present belief pattern to stay safe and be loved. You made the decision to conform and go along.
f) now, in present time, any situation that feels remotely like rejection triggers the same shutting down and cutting off of self in return for love you perceive is outside of yourself.
Emotional Healing Exercise
Trixie is taken back to her first memory of her mom disapproving of her. She sees her mom withdrawing and feels the deep sense of fear and loss in the moment. Trixie’s current, adult-self is guided to come along side child-self Trixie and encourage the aspect of herself that is willful. Trixie tells her small-self that who she is and what she wants is valid and that love does not go away, her mother believes she is helping her. Trixie is then guided to stand beside her adult-self in her current intimate relationship scene and profess the same thing—you and what you desire are worthy and love cannot go away, even if this person rejects my offering of intimacy.’ In fact,’ Trixie tells herself, you have no idea what is causing your partner to withdraw.
We all have aspects of ourselves that we have shut down and/or cut off so we can be ‘worthy’ of love. Those aspects are still there awaiting attention and ultimately restoration. Emotional pain is the signal flare alerting us to where a divine aspect of ones’ self has been buried.