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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Healthy Recovery

***

As Janet drives, she is struck by the transformation of the foliage as she ascends the mountainside. The desolate terrain gives way to a forest that stretches out like a multicolored carpet. When Janet turns the corner into downtown, she notices yellow and crimson leaves dancing across the street, reminding her of Midwestern autumns. She is lost in her sweet memories and emotions when she is jolted out of her reverie by a sharp cry and the abrupt curling of her husband's body in the passenger seat, as if he is blocking thing right book a prizefighter. 

Shocked and upset, she yells at him: "What's wrong with you?"
His body is now poised like an animal ready to pounce. She is both surprised and curious about his erratic behavior. 
"What's the matter?" she says impatiently. 
"There was a car pulling out, and you didn't see it," he says with agitation, his finger pointing in the direction of the parking space.
"I saw it," she snaps back, feeling attacked and defensive.
"Well, you didn't act like you saw it," he says in an accusatory tone.
"Well, I did," she says with indignation.

Janet feels insulted and dismissed. "Does he think I am incapable of driving?" she wonders from her victim stance.

Janet takes a deep breath. She wants to unleash her anger and shame on him, but instead takes another breath, attempting to calm herself. This is where the challenge lies in mature emotional connection. Despite how her partner acted or how she makes herself into a victim, Janet must choose to move beyond her primal response by interrupting the knee-jerk reaction.

Janet takes another breath, securing her containment boundary with the intention of creating emotional safety within the relationship. If she released her unbridled rage, she would experience boundary failure. She would be living in the reaction of her wounding. Instead, she chooses to collect her feelings, reactions, and thoughts.

Janet chooses to respond from a mature and emotionally centered place. She will become curious about her response, as well as her partner's. She will become clear about her own history as it relates to the present moment and will invite her partner to do the same. This is where intimacy and vulnerability begin.

Each of us is a collection of experiences that, when explained, will weave a clear path to understanding, compassion, and connection in our relationships. This conscious thought and action takes a lot of energy, awareness, and willingness. It is a practiced behavior that, with continued reinforcement, becomes more and more automatic.  

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