Relational Awareness (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness (Part 2)
Mirroring Unresolved Wounds
By Dorothy Wallis

 Make sure you read Part 1!

Did a ray of sunlight enter your life and suddenly a radiant being appeared in your midst that invoked a magnetic pull?  What attracted you to your partner in the first place?  Did she have a smile that melted you?  Did his enthusiasm and playful nature capture your desire for freedom and fun?  Did you admire his or her humor, assertiveness, confidence, or intellect?  Did she or he possess a savvy adventurous spirit?  Did you share similar interests or concordant life paths?  Perhaps it was charm and kindness that felt like a comforting hug.  Did you feel safe?  Maybe you experienced your partner intently absorbed and interested in you.  It felt so special.  To be truly seen fulfills a longing to be known.  

Knowing we are accepted just as we are gives us a sense of deep belonging.

Initially, attraction is coupled with the external qualities of a person including their physical appearance, their lifestyle, job, interests or demeanor.  At the same time, there is the indescribable euphoric attraction called “chemistry.”  You fall into a magical wonderland of being “In Love.”  You are on “Cloud 9” and literally may not touch the ground for a while.  The gravity of the biological magnetism invites you to move past the outer characteristics and behaviors and to move into relationship.  At around six to eighteen months, the intensity of the infatuation diminishes.  No longer blinded by overwhelming attraction and desire, you begin to see other parts of this person.  Underneath the allure are many internal layers of deep discoveries to mine.  Relationship is more than cohabitating together to provide you with the means to survive and procreate; it is actually a journey into the richness of finding the deeper truth of who you are.

Does that peak your curiosity?  The timber and tone of your voice, your behaviors, your values, attitudes and moods, how you handle change, crisis, emotions, and how you respond or react to every part of life is mirrored back to you through relationship with “another.”  The mirror reflects their response to your energy, how it is received and how it impacts them.  Your kindest most benevolent qualities as well as the gritty gnarly rough bits are seen.  You may have been unaware of disagreeable or undesirable traits within yourself.  You may not have acknowledged parts of yourself that push away relationship rather than attract connection.

Magnetic Attraction to Heal

An even stronger energetic attraction than the sexual or outer physical characteristics has been engaged from the start.  There is a familiarity about this person that is captivating.  There may be aspects of your partner that remind you of your parents, caregivers or someone that had a major influence on your upbringing.  Harville Hendrix coined the term, Imago, which is a Latin word describing our unconscious attraction to a composite image of what we perceive constitutes love.  It includes both the positive and negative qualities of our caregivers.  The Imago is the energetic signature or blueprint that magnetically pulls you toward a romantic partner.  Unconsciously, you look for your “Imago Match” in order to heal your childhood wounds.

No person goes unscathed in life.  Whatever dysfunctions occurred in the households of your childhood and adolescent years had an impact on you.  Your partner will enact aspects that “trigger” the unhealed or unresolved parts of you, which brings them to the forefront.  Relationship invites you to heal the childhood attachment and developmental wounds that keep you from wholeness.  You can no longer hide or keep hidden the sacred wounds of the past.  They pop up whenever there is a similarity between something in the present and something that was hurtful from the past.

Yikes…you thought you were free of past wounds and here you face them again.  Your task is to heal these wounds through learning how to have a different response, owning your “stuff,” regaining the truth within you, and integrating the past so that it no longer has a hold on you.  In other words, freedom is found through personal growth and learning how to be relational.

Myth:  Partnership and relationship will give me the Unconditional Love that I never received, which will heal me.   Grip Yourself….

The Truth is that you will not receive Unconditional Love from Your

Partner, nor will You Give it.

 Power Struggle

You merrily go into relationship with an unconscious belief that this person will give you what you missed growing up.  You have found the person that will understand you, give you security, support you, accept you, share with you and basically give you the unconditional love you crave.  It is a fantasy to think that unconditional love occurs in adult relationships.  How shocking when your partner jabs you with the same dysfunctional stuff that you experienced growing up.  Once again you find yourself with someone criticizing you, neglecting you, dismissing or invalidating you, being unsupportive, or being irresponsible, or withholding, withdrawing, abandoning, or perhaps venting their anger and frustrations on you, or having addictions.  The list goes on.  Whatever touches your deepest vulnerabilities and sensitivities will show up in the characteristics and behaviors of your partner.  Suddenly, you are in a power struggle with your partner and the experience of being wounded all over again.

Your Partner does not know all of Your Wounds and neither do You. 

They will Inadvertently Activate those Parts of You that need to be Healed.

 When you were a child, you were dependent on your parents or caretakers.   You had to cope with painful situations the best that you could.  As much as those coping strategies helped you get through those times, in its wake you were left with wounds to your heart. These are your unresolved issues that surface in relationship.  You may have experienced feelings of powerlessness.  A parent’s job is to unconditionally love their child.  Yet, no parent can do this perfectly.  In essence, your desire is to be re-parented to receive unconditional love and your partner has this underlying desire as well.  Yet, you are not in relationship to parent your partner, nor is he or she there to parent you.  Your love is conditional.  Think about it.  Will you stay in a relationship under any circumstance?  Will you stay if you are abused or your children are harmed?  You have “conditions” which are important for your safety, your values and integrity, and for your personal growth.

Your Relationship is a Crucible for Growth

 The “Love Bond” (in Relationships Part 1) can be a container for your growth as well as your partners.  Honoring and having reverence for your relationship as a living structure for Healing and Growth changes your perspective.  When both of you agree to value the life of your relationship, you agree to be willing to touch the pain you hold and support your partner in their pain.

Being Present to Disharmony

When there is disharmony, be aware of the potential for growth individually and for the relationship.  This is an opportunity to not only repair but to heal.  One or both of you may be experiencing a disruption.  Instead of ignoring the disturbance, you move towards the pain.  Is your partner upset?  Are you upset?  Be aware of what your first natural reaction or response is when you are triggered.  This is known as your “First Consciousness.”

First Consciousness

Your limbic system energizes when it senses threat.  A disturbance in the harmony of your relationship will activate your defenses, which is your “first consciousness.”  In what way do you defend or protect yourself when you are “triggered?”  Do you get angry and attack your partner with blame, shame, verbal abuse or physically threaten them?  Do you believe it is your partner’s entire problem and so you do not take responsibility for your part?  Do you defend yourself by explaining your intention(s) without acknowledging the pain your partner is experiencing, which does nothing to assuage their hurt?  Do you silence and withdraw?  Do you run away?  Do you counter their thoughts and feelings by dismissing them as not valid or wrong?  Do you sulk, stonewall, or become a victim?  Since all of these reactions are defensive, they push your partner away, nothing is resolved, and you have not dealt with your own uncomfortable feelings and pain.

Looking in the Mirror

What is your pattern when you are embroiled in an emotional trigger?  It may be different with acquaintances and friends than with your partner.  You may not project anger or walk-out on your friends or at your job but you may spew your anger or walk out on your partner.  This shadow part of you arises because you allow yourself to shut out your partner, who is familiar and known and unconsciously reminds you of the one(s) that wounded you in the past.

Your psyche reacts from the impulse to protect and defend using non-relational adaptive strategies of the ego.  Unfortunately, defense only escalates disconnection and is not concerned with repair.  The mirror your partner holds up is a powerful and very useful aspect to show you the behavioral stance you use to protect yourself.  Terrence Real brought forward four basic patterns of behaviors that your ego uses to defend and protect.  The ego will either use power and control to “puff up” and feel Better than others, 1 Up, or contract and diminish and go, 1 Down, to be Less than others.  It also defends by either not containing afflictive energy, which is a form of attack, or will retreat in containment and disconnection.  Notice which of these stances most often emerges when there is conflict in your relationships.

The 4 basic Patterns of Non-Relational Behavioral Stances

1 Up and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  It exemplifies a grandiose, superior stance.  You see your partner as less than you in some way.  Being boundaryless, you control the situation in order to defend and protect yourself.  You do not contain your emotions; you project onto others often with anger.  You may nag, vent, blame, shame, be verbally and emotionally abusive, shout, rage, or have uncontrolled outbursts.  You may be narcissistic and entitled.  You may become physically abusive.
2 Up and Walled Off and Contained:  1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  You feel a sense of righteousness and superiority.  You contain your emotions by being indifferent to your partner.  They are not worth your attention.  You feel contempt and Wall yourself off from them and are Love Avoidant.  You disconnect, retreat and withdraw even if you are in the same room.  You may silence the other and punish them by not connecting.  You may be mean spirited and passive aggressive.
3 Down and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than. You see yourself as a victim.  You are hungry for affection, which may show up as insatiable neediness.  You do not like being alone and will cling to your partner.  You are Love dependent/addicted with a fear of being rejected.   Insecurity, helplessness, dependence and desperation are hallmarks of this stance.  You may use seduction and manipulation to get what you want.
4 Down and Boundaryless and Contained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than.  You withdraw from life and contain your emotions.  You feel small with no energy.  You are downtrodden with depression, resignation, and futility.  “Why bother?”  You feel defeated with no “fight left” or energy to express your thoughts, emotions or to take any action.  You retract inside yourself and may be suicidal.

When you find yourself behaving in any of these ways, know that this is a reaction to pain.  You are feeling emotionally hurt.  Your self-esteem has taken a hit.  Ask: What is underneath the surface pain?  What is it mirroring for you?  Notice if you ruminate or cannot let go of the disturbance.  If your reaction is extreme then it can be a clue that the hurt is more than the present interaction and is catalyzing a deeper wound.

Awareness is your friend.  Knowing your pattern of reaction when you are triggered is the first step in being able to come back to a healthy state of consciousness.  When you find yourself in a non-relational behavioral stance be aware, breathe, and wait until you feel calm and centered before communicating with your partner.

Holding up the Mirror to yourself reveals the truth of your pain.  When you push away or disconnect from your partner, you are literally disconnecting from your own discomfort and pain.  This may sound great but it never works to resolve the inner wounds and it keeps you from having healthy, loving relationships.  Compassionately connect with the truth of your hurt and from this place you will find relief.  Discovering the core of what ails you and reconnecting with yourself allows you to move towards connection with your partner.  Remember that shining light when you first met your partner?   That ray of sunlight was for you all along to shine a light on your wounds releasing the old hurts of the past and when you do, you connect with yourself and Open to Love. 


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. and

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth