Relationships and Trauma: Healing Together
Our individual ability to feel, operate from health, and heal is something my partner and I work on consistently. This individual commitment allows us to make a partnered one. In order to not have our family’s foundation be built upon the wounds we’ve individually experienced, we must choose to unravel before ourselves and the other, anchoring in to the truth we’re cultivating together. It’s not easy, and we are immensely privileged to do it.
I feel truly safe with Sara a percentage of the time, and I am demanded to hold space for my internal healing 100% of the time, due to my extensive traumas. Sara feels safe nearly 100% of the time with me, but in that same breath also has her own share of real wounds and real residual impacts to contend with that require her attention. Both of us are different, but we both choose individual internal work just as much as the other.
It’s unfair, unjust, and painful to be the one accountable to the residual impacts we hold post-trauma(s). Shifting that unfathomable reality from solely responsible for our trauma(s) into empowered responsibility for the emotional impacts of our wounds is where our freedoms lie. Everything else comes after, with time and with resource.
It’s not my partner’s job to make me feel safe 100% of the time, nor can she. Of course, it is intimately natural to try and take up guilt for the times I feel unsafe in her presence, and the impact of what that does to her. However, when all I feel is the guilt I have limited space to do my own internal work. The work that asks me to hold the compassion for my well-founded survival, hold accountability in where I can learn how to better communicate my needs, and also believe the emotions of my person. It’s not my job to make Sara feel safe 100% of the time, nor can I. However, like me when all she feels is guilty for when she acts from impacts of her own wounds, she has no space to do her own individual healing.
Trauma, pain, grief, hurt, residual impacts, mental health. Life is not linear, and neither is healing or experiences. Our pain demands to be felt and holds no issue at being loud in the most inopportune moments. Nevertheless, I stand behind my consistent extension of understanding that we will never feel our hurt until we are truly safe enough to. Sometimes that’s patterned, where we slowly grow into it like I did. Sometimes it feels like a glacier, and we have to learn how to chip away and it in our own individual ways. None of what you experience is wrong, and it is okay to feel frustration and hurt when we/our partners slide from safe to unsafe in front of our eyes.
Sara and I both work intentionally to provide healthy space to the other, and it is hard as fuck when things feel out of our control. As a partner to someone with extensive trauma, as a partner to someone with anxiety and depression, it’s nearly impossible to not feel the weight of the other’s hurt when we both sometimes look and feel like our wounds. Like our own individual work, there is only freedom in our partnership when we choose to not hold the full responsibility for the other’s hurt, but instead take up the empowered accountability towards our own actions.
In our partnership Sara’s “I am so in with love yous,” are most often my “I commit to yous”. My “I commit to you” is my own sustainable choice to create an anchor in our partnership that I can return to. Similarly to what I created in myself, as I was rocked my memory after memory, and unravelled before my own eyes. This is a resting place to swing my way back to as I sway on my pendulum of safe and unsafe, externally. A solid ground that still remains when all else falls away and life is painful. My “I commit to yous” allow me to bridge the gap between my wounds and the present, when everything is blurry and all I know is pain. In my past, in those pattern experiences, I have operated from well-founded survival that separates me from the “other”. Whereas here, I have the permission to choose long-term commitment that connects me to Sara through my own individual work and willingness to continue it.
To feel our individual hurts so tenderly, so agonisingly, is our choice and our privilege. Feeling allows us to go from immediately believing that this hurt we feel comes from our home and family, towards slowly recognizing that this hurt something we once knew. That our hurt is a wound that was real, but it is also a wound and not our current reality. Meaning, it can become our reality if we don’t both commit to the individual and partnered work. Through communication, vulnerability, and resources we make an effort to do so.
For me, I am not being wounded, but I was once abuse horrifically and I do feel the residual impacts of that. To recognize it, talk to my body that is feeling the hurt, and also be able to be patient with myself in the processing time is my biggest treasure. Something I am overwhelmed to hold, and as aforementioned so aware is not a resource many know. Which is why I am pursuing the work I am, so I can teach it. Not to be remembered for it, but to extend the invitation for others to hold the option to remember themselves through it.
Our present circumstances may mirror what we once knew, hence why we are all (no matter what our pasts hold) walking triggers for one another. However, with the resources to do this work we’re able to eventually (in our own unique and autonomous ways) recognize our present reality versus our past experiences.
Speaking on behalf, and to, the eighteen little girls in me is never without hurdles. As I do this work, internally and externally, it is hard on my body. The level of illnesses flaring in me remind me that I am experiencing hurt on many levels outside my control. However, my growing ability to communicate that I am allowed to feel this, I am allowed to pause until I know with clarity how to talk about it without extending guilt, and I am committed to my family takes considerable effort. Treasured effort. Privileged effort. Real effort. For us both.
Partnership and healing is messy, raw, vulnerable, and so beautiful. What we learn individually and together extends out into everything we do. This is a snippet of it, and I will absolutely be discussing it more.
Wherever you are in your healing, I witness it with honour. You are not less than at any stage. You are valid and valued. Your truths are allowed here; believed. What you’re feeling is real, even if you don’t have the words. Even when the words feel unspeakable. Even when you speak them, and then run head first into your own version of well-founded survival. How hazzy and disconcerting, how unfair. The reality of residual impacts. The reality of our wounds.