Are you dragging around issues with you that come up every fight?
Do you get reminded of mistakes you made months and years ago, even though you’ve apologized?
The ghosts of our mistakes and injuries can follow us around for years without proper care and healing. Learning to properly take care of injuries the first time saves us time and heartache, but few us of have the tools to do so.
As a result, we bury injuries behind forced smiles. “Im fine. It’s fine,” until they come up when we are angry about something else, surprising even us. We avoid talking about it out of fear and shame. Fear that we won’t be understood and taken care of, shame that we cannot let it go.
Many a day occurs when I am annoyed or hurt or upset by something my husband has done, but I don’t have the energy to talk about it, I don’t want to ruin a nice evening, or I fear being wrong about it. I have to force myself to find ways to be honest and do the work to clear these injuries so they don’t hurt us further. Conflict avoidance runs strong in both my husband and myself and we are not always on top of this.
Every couple carries these ghosts. Few have the tools to properly soothe and release the old injuries of the past. The toll of carrying these is heavy, but there is always the possibility of putting these down and creating greater honesty, connection and freedom.
So how does one release them and create a practice of preventing build up?
First, we have to set some time aside to inventory the crap. With care and honesty, we need to sit down together and acknowledge what we have built up and create a list of what needs healing. Where possible, practice humor and humility in acknowledging our own mistakes and what we contributed to the pile-up. Understanding this and offering this understanding to each other, provides the safety to nurture the honesty needed in this process.
Next, take a look at the list you have created together and sift it in order of importance. Some may release just in acknowledgement. At times, just hearing aloud, “I know I hurt you when I did this,” is all we need to have them release and be forgiven. At other times, we need a bit more care. Sort the list into injuries or junk that need healing and care and set that list aside.
Following this, prepare the ground for healing. Talk together about what you each need to feel cared for in both offering and receiving repair. Listen closely to how your partner will feel taken care of in offering and receiving repair. Take time to think about and prepare to offer what your partner needs. Listen closely and share honestly to your own needs in giving and receiving repair. Take some time to get yourself ready to do this, understanding the resources-physically, emotionally, relationally— necessary to go through this process. Gather these resources.
Some may need external support, in the form of a therapist, coach, friend, mentor or spiritual guide. If you have hesitation to do this process alone, listen to this voice and gather that support. You both deserve to have any support needed.
Create a structure that supports each of you to do this. This could be taking a bit of time once a week to create healing for one thing at a time. It could be creating bigger space — such as a weekend away together — to build the container for this healing. Build in the recreation, the relaxation and the connection to support your hearts and brains in between sessions of healing. It does not need to be a slog — there should be rest and celebration for the work being completed sprinkled throughout.
As you go through the process, take turns listening fully to each other’s experience and develop a full understanding of the impact of each action. Take as many breaks as needed to be able to take in your partner’s experience so you understand their experience, which creates the greatest possibility of full and complete repair. We need to understand the impact of our actions and inactions in order to be able to fully clean them up. Again, be caring and generous with yourself as you listen. We each need this and offering it is one of the most powerful things we can do to create both healing and the deep connection we crave.
Following this, work to create the most meaningful repair possible. For additional support around repair, read this blog and watch this Instagram live. Making sure you have everything you need to create effective repair is important to seeing success in this process.
Once these events are properly repaired, create a celebration! You have cleaned up and deserve celebrate and rest!
Finally, looking back over the process, talk together about what you have learned about yourselves and each other. Talk about what you need to not repeat your mistakes, to the best of your ability. What can you offer your partner to help them be their best? What do you need to be your best? Take note of these things and develop daily practices to support each other.
Create the structure needed to clear out any build up as it occurs. This can be a weekly check-in, a radical honesty practice or some kind of relationship evaluation process. Create accountability for yourself and your relationship.
Finally, offer gratitude to each other for taking the time and care to go through this process. It is brave and scary; daunting and hard. Watch as you see the waves of growth, gratitude and connection move through your relationship, creating a new level of depth and love.
If you need support, I have created a Release and Renew workshop to provide the tools for this process. The live event, May 21st, has sold out, but the replay will be available May 28th and will contain both the teaching and the guided exercises and written tools to walk you through this process step by step. Register by May 20th to get access to this. It is only 77$.