November 18, 2013
“It is the law of life that each one of us has something in our heart, a problem that hurts the heart, so that we are all the same no matter how else it appears.” -Bernadette Rebienot, Grandmothers Counsel the World
“The deep, deep bruises and hurts from a collective past or a childhood past may make a blow or even a touch very, very painful in the present, may even make us respond to a gentle touch as if it were a blow.” -Gloria Steinem, Grandmothers Counsel the World
These wounds are the deep, hidden currents that emerge as painful patterns in our close relationships. We often see only what lies on the surface – the arguing, the blame, the withdrawal. The content of our conflict does not seem related to our past; we only see what is right in front of us. Yet, as long as these wounds remain unspoken and unacknowledged, they have power over us. If my partner says or does something that reminds me of my wounded story that “nobody understands me”, and I’m not aware of this, I will be likely be hurt, which may lead to withdrawal or lashing out in anger.
However, if I am aware of this, I may say to my partner, “I don’t think you understand me, and I would like for you to.” At this point, it can be very useful for my partner to have an understanding of the broader concepts in this article – that we are all wounded in some way, and that these wounds are active in relationship. Through this understanding, my partner can “hold” or “host” my woundedness. This doesn’t necessarily mean tending to my woundedness as though I am not an adult. Such understanding cultivates compassion and empathy, so that my partner will, hopefully, be more likely to be willing to attempt to meet my need to be understood.