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How Can I Go Beyond Destructive Repeat Behavior in My Relationships?


heart to heart
Question
When I get emotionally hurt and feel betrayed, I numb myself out from feeling and go into survivor mode. I lost my parents as a teenager, my mother to suicide and my father due to a heart attack, I have 3 divorces with men who have all betrayed me and I forgave them all - my son recently committed suicide at 31 on February 28, 2006.

I am still grieving and now in a new relationship and concerned that I am not good in relationships, I worked on myself for the last three years to heal and accept my sorrows. I realized I was a rescuer and changed my ways of thinking. I find that recently after a disagreement and possible betrayal of my current relationship, I just numbed myself out and it took about a day and a half to care again. I resorted to my survivor mode of not caring and thinking I could just make it okay alone. I have unfolded my wings to fly so-to-speak in what my calling is in music and teaching and my faith in God is huge. I am never alone for he is within me and my savior is Jesus Christ.

Here are my questions to you: Are my reactions abnormal? And what can I do to deal with the issues and not go into this mode?

Wallace's reply
Wallace Your email very clearly demonstrates the power of hidden patterns and beliefs carried over into adulthood from early childhood experiences. I wouldn't use the word abnormal to describe your behavior, because many of us unwittingly repeat old outmoded patterns from childhood, but I would certainly call it unhealthy.

I encourage you to write about your memories of what happened and what it felt like, when your mother committed suicide and then do the same for the time when your father died of a heart attack. Try and really unearth the hidden feelings and experiences. If doing this brings up painful emotions, so much the better. Then travel back in time to each of your failed relationships and the suicide of your son and do the same exercise.

See if you can discover repeating patterns in these experiences that date from the time your mother and father died. Unearth buried beliefs that have formed as a result of these early experiences with your parents and through your writing see if you can discover how these hidden beliefs from childhood have been shaping your adult experiences and relationships. For example you may uncover the belief that when you enter into a relationship it is not secure because the person will only leave. (This is how a child might rationalize the loss of a parent). If you have this belief and other related beliefs become aware of them by writing them down and perhaps sharing them with a friend.

Once you become conscious of your hidden beliefs and how they are determining the course of your relationships in adult life, you need to create a space between who you really are (a strong and powerful adult) and these childhood beliefs. A child has no way of rationalizing or understanding loss, and so creates simple beliefs that she can use to explain what is happening. You need no longer be that hurt and wounded child with these wayward beliefs. You can choose to have mature adult beliefs about relationships, death and loss. You need to create these new more mature beliefs and write them down after a period of reflection. Then if you are in a relationship and you find these old patterns and emotions arising, you need to catch that these are old outmoded reactions, identify the childhood beliefs that underlie them, and switch to your new adult beliefs.

Once you can successfully create a space between you and your old childhood beliefs and instead adopt new adult beliefs about relationships, you will have more mature relationships in all areas of your life. If you want further help with this I suggest doing Peter Shepherd's Communication and Relationships Course to give you an adults understanding and belief system about relationships. If you would like to do a workshop with other people to address these issues I suggest www.landmarkeducation.com. This is a worldwide organization that runs weekend courses to help people discover and go beyond destructive patterns they are repeating in their lives.

By committing yourself to working through the buried emotional pain and trauma, discovering your hidden childhood beliefs about relationships, and replacing them with new adult beliefs, you will be laying the seeds for a new joyful beginning, with successful relationships in all areas of your life.

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